99. Freed From the Fetters of Jealousy
By Lin Hui, China
Last year, I was elected to serve as church leader and Sister Li Muguang was elected as a gospel deacon. I resolved to seek the truth and fulfill my duties as best I could. When my brothers and sisters came to me with problems and difficulties, I did my best to fellowship truth and help resolve their issues. As a result, I quickly earned their respect. Some time later, I noticed that Muguang had a good caliber, gave enlightening fellowships of the truth and the brothers and sisters all said she gave practical fellowship of the truth and was able to resolve problems. One time during a gathering, a sister praised Muguang in front of me, saying that she had found her fellowship very practical and edifying. I knew that what the sister had said was perfectly true, but it still made me a bit uncomfortable. I thought: “I’ve been fulfilling my duties for longer than Muguang and I’m a leader, but everyone is praising her. If this keeps up, I’ll gradually be replaced by her in people’s hearts.” Following that, I continually heard people saying how enthusiastic and positive Muguang was in fulfilling her duty and seeking the truth. Over time, I became jealous and displeased with her, thinking she had stolen my thunder. Compared with her, the others would certainly think that I didn’t seek the truth as well as her and they wouldn’t elect me in the next election. The more I thought about this, the worse I felt and I became panicked. I had to redouble my efforts in seeking the truth and couldn’t let her surpass me, otherwise I would lose my status and image in the hearts of the brothers and sisters.
After that, I observed Muguang in secret, studying how she fellowshiped the truth to resolve problems. I discovered that when she encountered problems in her duties, she would focus on seeking the truth to reflect upon and know herself and she was able to open up to others in fellowship about her corruption and inadequacies. As a result, the brothers and sisters liked to go to her seeking counsel. I thought to myself: “I should also focus on reflecting upon and knowing myself, seeking the truth to resolve problems and opening up to my brothers and sisters. I need to show people that I’m just as good as Muguang.” During that time, I would ponder over God’s words before gatherings and think of how to fellowship on them in the most practical way, but the more I thought about it, the less I was able to actually fellowship, and I couldn’t grasp the brothers’ and sisters’ problems. I felt awful and became even more jealous of Muguang. One time, when I heard my partner Sister Zheng Xun say that Muguang was making quick progress, gave very practical fellowship in gatherings and was very effective in her duties, I became very unhappy and thought: “Muguang and I were elected as leader and deacon at the same time and I’ve been working so hard in my duties, why don’t you recognize what I’ve done? Muguang has made progress, but I’m not doing so bad either! Why do the brothers and sisters only ever praise her? If this keeps up, she will soon surpass me and my leadership role will be in jeopardy.” I felt so exasperated, but to keep Zheng Xun from discovering that I was jealous of Muguang, I forced myself to say: “Yes, Muguang has been progressing quickly these days.”
Not long after that, Muguang’s husband cheated on her and it had an impact on her state. During gatherings she rarely fellowshiped. I was secretly delighted by this turn of events and only hoped that she would continue to wallow in her current state of negativity. If she did, then the brothers and sisters wouldn’t have such a high opinion of her anymore. But then I felt a bit guilty for thinking this way—I was a leader, and yet, not only was I not supporting her, I even hoped she would continue in her negativity. I was truly lacking humanity. Having thought of this, I briefly fellowshiped with her. To my surprise, through prayer and reading God’s words, Muguang gradually emerged from her negative state. Seeing how quickly she had turned her state around I became quite upset. If her state had recovered, didn’t that mean that she’d soon surpass me again? If everyone had such a high opinion of her, when would I ever get a chance to distinguish myself? Having thought of all this, I felt seriously dejected. After that, I put less effort into my work in the church and I kept making mistakes and running into problems when arranging work. Even though I was still performing my duties, I was in spiritual darkness and pain and kept being constrained by corrupt dispositions from which I was unable to free myself. I knew I was in a bad state, but I was unwilling to open up to my brothers and sisters because I worried that people would think I had poor humanity if they knew that I was jealous of Muguang and excluded her. In the midst of my misery, I reached out to God in prayer: “God, it’s making me miserable to see how everyone admires Muguang. I would that You enlighten me so that I may come to know myself.”
After concluding my prayer, I thought of how God’s words expose those who suppress and are jealous of others, and I hurriedly went to find relevant passages. God’s words say: “To be a church leader is not merely to learn to use the truth to resolve problems, but also to discover and cultivate people of talent, whom you absolutely must not envy or suppress. Practicing in this way is beneficial to the work of the church. If you can cultivate a few pursuers of the truth to cooperate well with you in all the work you do, and in the end, all of you have experiential testimonies, then you will be a qualified leader. If you grow able to act in all things according to the principles, you will then be living up to your loyalty. There are some who are always afraid that others are better than they and higher than they, that others will be esteemed while they are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only about one’s own interests, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for others or the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). “When antichrists fulfill a duty, no matter what it is and regardless of the group they are in, they demonstrate a distinct form of conduct, which is that in everything, they always want to stand out and show off, they always tend to constrain people and control them, they always want to lead people and have the final say, they always want to be in the limelight, they want to draw people’s eyes and attention to them, and they want approval from everyone. Whenever antichrists join a group, regardless of its numbers, who the members of the group are, or what their profession or identity is, antichrists first take stock of things to see who is imposing and outstanding, who speaks well, who is impressive, and who is qualified or has prestige. They evaluate who they can beat and who they can’t, as well as who surpasses them and who is inferior. These are the first things they look at. After quickly assessing the situation, they begin their work, setting aside and ignoring those who are beneath them. They go first to those who they believe are superior, who have some prestige and status, or those with gifts and talent. These are the people they first measure themselves against. If any of these people are held in esteem by the brothers and sisters, or have been long-time believers in God and are in good standing, then they become targets of the antichrists’ envy, and are seen as competition. Then, the antichrists quietly compare themselves to these people who are esteemed, who have status, and who command the brothers’ and sisters’ admiration. They begin to ponder such people, examining what they can do and what they have mastered. Watching and observing, the antichrists realize that these people are experts in a certain profession, as well as the fact that everyone holds them in high regard, because they have believed in God for longer, and because they can speak about experiences and testimony. Antichrists regard such people as ‘prey’ and recognize them as opponents, and then they form a plan of action. What plan of action? They look at the aspects where they do not match up with their opponents and then begin to work on these aspects. For example, if they are not as good at a certain profession as them, they will study that profession, reading books, looking up all sorts of information, and humbly asking others for instruction. They will participate in every kind of work related to that profession, gradually accumulating experience and cultivating their own power. … What is their core objective? It is to gain status. The target on which all their work, all their toil, and all the price they pay is centered is the thing in their hearts they worship the most: status and power” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). God’s words were a precise exposition of my current state. I was always so worried that if Muguang surpassed me she would threaten my position, and so I did everything I could to outshine her. Was I not being jealous of Muguang for being more capable than myself and vying with her for status? This was a manifestation of my antichrist disposition. Seeing how Muguang gave practical fellowship of the truth and was able to resolve the problems and difficulties of the brothers and sisters, I worried that she would unseat me in my role as leader, so I studied and copied her good qualities in an effort to surpass her and solidify my status in the church. When Muguang showed an ability to bear a burden in her duties, made fast progress in her life and earned the praise of our brothers and sisters, I felt resentful and was unwilling to accept what I considered to be defeat, so I began to compete against her in secret. When she sunk into a negative state, not only did I not support her with love, I even secretly delighted at the turn of events and wanted nothing more than to see her continue to wallow in negativity. Even when she was unable to perform her duties well and the work of the church was negatively impacted, I didn’t care at all. How despicable and malicious I was! It was entirely due to God’s grace that I had been selected as a leader and so I ought to spend more time discovering and cultivating other talented people. I should give the brothers and sisters the chance to put their talents into play and contribute their efforts to the work of the church. Only in so doing would I be being considerate of God’s intentions. Instead, I spent my time vying for status and envying those more capable than me. I was even willing to neglect the interests of the church in order to maintain my own status and reputation. How could I claim to be fulfilling my duty? I was just perpetrating evil and resisting God.
Later on, I came across two passages of God’s words that gave me a path to resolve my corrupt disposition. God’s words say: “If you recommend a good person and let them undergo training and perform a duty, thereby adding a person of talent to God’s house, will your work not then be easier to do? Will you not then have lived up to your loyalty in this duty? This is a good deed before God; it is the minimum of conscience and sense of which one who is a leader should be possessed. Those who are capable of putting the truth into practice can accept God’s scrutiny when doing things. When you accept God’s scrutiny, your heart is set straight. If you only ever do things for others to see, always want to gain others’ praise and admiration, yet you do not accept God’s scrutiny, then is God still in your heart? Such people have no reverence for God. Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; do not consider the interests of man, and give no thought to your own pride, reputation, or status. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have been loyal, fulfilled your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of the church. You must give consideration to these things” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). “For all who fulfill their duty, however profound or shallow their understanding of the truth, the simplest way of practice by which to enter the reality of the truth is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything, and to let go of selfish desires, individual intentions, motives, pride, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least one should do” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). Through God’s words, I realized that we must set the right intentions in everything we do, accept God’s scrutiny, stop worrying about our dignity and status and be more considerate of the work of the church. Only in so doing are we being loyal and doing good deeds. It occurred to me that God arranged for me and Muguang to work together so that we could draw on each other’s strengths and offset our weaknesses, cooperate harmoniously, and maintain progress in the work of the church together. Muguang’s ability to practically fellowship the truth and resolve our brothers’ and sisters’ problems was a boon to the work of the church and the life entry of our brothers and sisters. As such, I should support and cooperate with her and learn from her strengths. When Muguang encountered difficulties and sank into a negative state, it was my duty as leader to support her, help her emerge from that negativity and work with her in a spirit of cooperation to carry out the work of the church. Only in so doing would I be showing consideration for God’s will. After that, I summoned the courage to open up to Muguang in fellowship about how I had been jealous of her and reflected on and came to know myself. With regard to her husband’s adultery, I also fellowshiped with her about how we must seek the truth and recognize how evil, worldly trends bring great suffering and harm to people. When I finished fellowshiping, Muguang said: “That was very practical and helpful for me! It’s so great to open up and fellowship like this!” I felt a bit ashamed and guilty and I realized that only by letting go of a desire for status and reputation and putting a stop to my own jealousy of and competition with Muguang was I able to feel a real sense of peace.
Achieving a change in disposition, however, is not easy and as soon as the right situation arose, I fell back into my old ways. At the end of the year, the church held a survey prior to the election. Everyone had approving things to say in their appraisal of Muguang: “She is so loving and is able to open herself up to people with honesty and simplemindedness.” Their assessments of me, by contrast, listed several inadequacies, and some of the brothers and sisters also said that I rarely laid myself bare before others. I felt a bit aggrieved upon reading their evaluations: “I’ve worked really hard in my duties this year. Why don’t you all recognize my strengths? Muguang might be able to open up about herself, but she has an arrogant disposition, is ineffective in carrying out practical work and she doesn’t place much importance on resolving problems in spreading the gospel. Why didn’t you notice any of these issues? In terms of work performance, she’s no match for me!” The more I thought about this, the more indignant and unhappy I felt. It seemed to me that Muguang’s presence was preventing me from being seen and recognized. Without even realizing it, I once again became jealous of her. I even thought about leaving this church, not wanting to work with her anymore. Soon after, the leader called us in for a gathering. I was thinking that during critical times like the current election period, unsuitable leaders and workers should be replaced and reassigned. I should tell the leader about Muguang’s issues and let them know that she was having lots of problems and had a very arrogant disposition. If she were reassigned, then she wouldn’t threaten my status anymore. During the gathering, the leader asked why the gospel work had failed to produce results. As soon as I heard the leader ask this question, I knew my chance had come—Muguang was the gospel deacon, this was her responsibility and she hadn’t fulfilled her duties well. So I said to the leader: “Muguang talks a good game, but she has failed to do real, practical work and solve real problems….” The leader responded, saying: “If Muguang is failing to do practical work, this is a very serious problem and we need to look into how she is performing her work.” It seemed like the leader was now already a bit suspicious of Muguang. If the leader saw that Muguang was arrogant, self-righteous and not as able to accept criticism from others, would she be reassigned? I got excited at the thought of this and looked forward to the day when Muguang would be replaced. Not long after that, during a co-worker gathering, things became a bit tense when Muguang held to her opinion and was unwilling to accept my and Zheng Xun’s viewpoint and suggestions. It occurred to me that now that Zheng Xun had seen Muguang was arrogant, self-righteous and didn’t accept the opinions of others, if she reported this issue to the leader, Muguang would be reassigned even sooner. So, when the gathering concluded, I made a point of saying to Zheng Xun: “Every time someone’s opinion differs from Muguang, she always stubbornly stands by her own viewpoint and is unwilling to accept anyone else’s suggestions. Don’t you think she’s a bit arrogant, self-righteous and unwilling to accept the truth?” Zheng Xun replied: “Muguang is a bit arrogant, but she’s a correct person and bears a burden in her duty. It’s normal to have some corruption and deficiencies, we should support her more.” Seeing that Zheng Xun didn’t seem to have been influenced by what I said, I followed up, asking: “Why did you give her such a good review if you have also observed the issues she’s having?” Zheng Xun replied: “Muguang has her strengths. We should consider that she is still developing as a person and treat her fairly.” I felt a little bit guilty after hearing this—why was Zheng Xun able to make a fair assessment of Muguang’s strengths and weaknesses, whereas I just relentlessly harped on her issues and even wanted to get her reassigned by the leader? I brought my question before God in prayer and seeking, asking God to help me reflect upon and know myself.
One day, I came across this passage of God’s words: “Antichrists think of the interests of the house of God and the church as entirely their own, as personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. The only things they think about when doing the work of the church are their own interests, their own status, and their own image. They do not allow anyone to harm their interests, much less do they allow anyone who has caliber and is able to speak of their experiences and testimony to threaten their status and prestige. And so, they try to undermine and exclude as competitors those who are able to talk of experiences and testimony, as well as who can fellowship the truth and provide for God’s chosen ones, and they desperately try to isolate them from everyone else, to drag their name through the mud, and to bring them down. Only then will the antichrists feel at peace. If these people are never negative, and are able to carry on performing their duty, speaking of their testimony, and supporting others, then the antichrists will turn to their last resort, finding faults with them, condemning them, framing them, fabricating lies to make things hard for them, until they are thrown out of the church. Only then will the antichrists completely relax. This is what is most insidious and vicious about the antichrists. What causes them the most fear and anxiety is the people who pursue the truth and are possessed of true experiences and testimony, because people with experiences and testimony are the ones whom God’s chosen ones approve of and support the most, rather than those who blather on about doctrine. Antichrists do not possess true experiences and testimony, nor are they capable of practicing the truth; at best, they are capable of doing a few good deeds to curry favor with people. But no matter how many good deeds they do or how many nice-sounding things they say, these are still incomparable to the benefits and advantages that a good experiential testimony can bring to people. Nothing is a substitute for the effects of the provision and watering provided to God’s chosen ones by those who are able to speak of experiences and testimony. And so, when antichrists see someone speaking of experiences and testimony, their gaze becomes a dagger. Rage ignites in their hearts, hatred rises up, and they are chomping at the bit to shut the speaker up and stop them from saying any more. If they carry on talking, the antichrists’ reputation will be completely ruined, their ugly faces will be completely exposed for all to see, and so the antichrists find a pretext to disturb the person speaking testimony and undermine them. Antichrists only permit themselves to deceive people with words and doctrine, and they never allow God’s chosen ones to glorify God by speaking of their experiences and testimony, which indicates what kind of people the antichrists hate and fear the most. When someone distinguishes themselves with a little work, or when someone is able to talk of true experiences and testimony in order to benefit, edify, and support the chosen ones, and earns great praise from everyone, envy and hate grows in the hearts of the antichrists, they try to alienate and undermine them. Also, under no circumstances do they allow such people to undertake any work, in order to prevent them from threatening their status. People with the realities of truth accentuate and highlight the poverty, miserableness, ugliness, and wickedness of the antichrists when they’re next to them, so when an antichrist chooses a partner or co-worker, they never select someone with the realities of truth, they never select people who can speak of experiences and testimony, and they never select honest people or people who are able to practice the truth. These are the people the antichrists envy and hate the most, and they are a thorn in the side of the antichrists. No matter how much these people do that is good or of benefit to the work of God’s house, the antichrists will try their hardest to cover these deeds up. They will even twist the facts to claim the credit for good things while shifting the blame for bad things onto other people as a means to elevate themselves and belittle others. Antichrists have a great jealousy and hatred toward those who pursue the truth and are able to speak of experiences and testimony, they are fearful that these people will threaten their own status, and so they do all they can to attack and exclude them. They prohibit the brothers and sisters from going near them, from getting close to them, or supporting or praising these people who are able to speak of experiences and testimony. This highlights most of all the satanic nature of antichrists of being sick of the truth and hating God. And so, too, does it prove that the antichrists are an evil countercurrent in the church, they are the ones to blame for the disturbance to church work and impedance of God’s will” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). Through God’s words, I realized that the nature of antichrists is arrogant and evil—they abide by the notion that “There can only be one alpha male” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” They prize their reputation and status above everything else, always competing and vying with others and pining for the top position, never letting anyone else surpass them. They exclude and attack anyone they see as a threat to their position without the slightest thought to the work of the church. Reflecting on myself with respect to these behaviors, it seemed that the disposition I manifested was just like that of an antichrist. When I saw how everyone thought well of Muguang and had good things to say about her, I felt like she was stealing my thunder and was a threat to my status, so I became jealous of her and criticized her behind her back, seizing relentlessly on the corrupt behaviors she displayed. I purposely spoke about Muguang’s inadequacies in front of my co-workers and leaders, hoping to secretly use them to get her reassigned and, in so doing, cement my own status. I used such lowly methods to exclude those that didn’t conform to my ideas so as to preserve my own status. What I revealed was precisely the disposition of antichrists! I thought about how, in order to preserve their authority and tyrannical rule, the CCP would use any means possible to suppress, eradicate and thoroughly eliminate anyone that challenged their status. I also thought of the antichrists who had been expelled from the church, and how, in order to maintain their status and gain power, they had excluded, suppressed and punished anyone that threatened their position and would even expel them from the church. How was my disposition any different from that of the great red dragon or the antichrists? If I acted according to my antichrist disposition, was I not walking the road of the antichrist? It was then that I realized that Satan lures people by making them pursue status—this is one way in which Satan harms people. I had become increasingly selfish, malicious and inhuman in the pursuit of the preservation of my status. If I didn’t change my ways and repent, I would ultimately become an evil-doing antichrist and be punished and cursed by God. Having realized all this, I prayed to God, saying: “Dear God, recently, in order to preserve my own status, I’ve stopped at nothing to exclude Muguang. I’ve been so malicious and rebellious! God, I don’t want to live by my corrupt disposition anymore. I’m willing to repent to You and work harmoniously with Muguang to perform my duty well.”
After that, I came across the following passage of God’s words: “You must learn to let go and set aside these things, to recommend others, and to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle or rush to take advantage the moment you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain glory. You must be able to put aside these things, but must not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who works in quiet obscurity, and who does not show off to others while you loyally perform your duty. The more you let go of your prestige and status, and the more you let go of your own interests, the more peaceful you will become, the more light there will be within your heart, and the more your state will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker your state will be. If you do not believe it, try it and see! If you want to turn this sort of corrupt state around, and not be controlled by these things, you must seek the truth, and clearly understand the essence of these things, and then put them aside, relinquish them. Otherwise, the more you struggle, the more darkness will surround you, and the more jealousy and hatred you will feel, and your desire to obtain will only grow stronger. The stronger your desire to obtain, the less capable you will be to do so, and as you can’t obtain, your hatred will increase. As your hatred increases, you will grow darker inside. The darker you are inside, the more poorly you will perform your duty; the more poorly you perform your duty, the less useful to the house of God you will be. This is an interlinked, vicious cycle. If you can never perform your duty well, then, gradually, you will be cast out” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). Through God’s words, I realized that if I wanted to free myself from the fetters and constraints of status, I had to consciously forsake my flesh, stop clinging to status and face and be more considerate of the work of the church. Muguang had good caliber, bore a burden in her duties, and was able to open up to others—these were all qualities I didn’t possess. I needed to learn from her strengths to offset my own weaknesses. Muguang might have some inadequacies and corruption, but she was a true believer and accepted the truth, so I should treat her properly and support her with love. Indeed, this was all part of my responsibility as a leader of the church. Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that being a leader was a chance for me to practice. He wanted me to be able to be considerate of His intentions, to pursue the truth and dispositional transformation, and cooperate with others who pursued the truth to carry out the work of the church. But once I had obtained status, I wanted to preserve my status and I was jealous of other people’s talents and sought to exclude and suppress anyone I perceived to be better than me. How malicious, inhumane and unreasonable I had been! When I realized all this, I felt very ashamed of myself and was willing to forsake myself and practice the truth in my ensuing work.
After that, I prayed to God and was willing to relinquish my desire for status and dignity. During fellowships, I consciously laid myself bare, opening up about my corruption and my inadequacies. Gradually, I found that I didn’t care as much about what other people thought of me and wasn’t as jealous of Muguang as I had been in the past. Quite the opposite, I realized that she had a lot of strengths that I could learn from. When she showed signs of a corrupt disposition, I wouldn’t seize on them, but approached her inadequacies in the proper way, consciously seeking the principles of the truth to help her. Over time, Muguang and I began to get along better. I experienced how good it feels to stop caring about reputation and status and practice the truth according to God’s words. Thanks be to God!