3. What the differences are between performing one’s duty and rendering service
Relevant Words of God:
Man’s performance of his duty is, in actuality, the accomplishment of all that is inherent within man, which is to say, that which is possible for man. It is then that his duty is fulfilled. The defects of man during his service are gradually reduced through progressive experience and the process of his undergoing judgment; they do not hinder or affect man’s duty. Those who cease to serve or yield and fall back for fear that there may be drawbacks to their service are the most cowardly of all. If people cannot express what they ought to express during service or achieve what is inherently possible for them, and instead fool about and go through the motions, they have lost the function that a created being should have. Such people are what are known as “mediocrities”; they are useless refuse. How can such people properly be called created beings? Are they not corrupt beings that shine on the outside but are rotten within?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man
What is the difference between rendering service and performing one’s duty? Rendering service means that you do whatever you want to, at least, provided that what you do does not offend God’s disposition. As long as nobody investigates your actions and as long as what you do is passable, then that is good enough. You do not concern yourself with changes of disposition, with doing things in accordance with the truth principles, with satisfying God’s will, and even less with how to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, or with how to do your duty well and give an account of it to God. You pay no mind to any of these things, and this is what is called service-doing. Service-doing is about exerting oneself with all that you have and working as though you were a slave, from morning until night. If you ask such a person, “All these years of bitter, hard work that you have immersed yourself in, what has it all been for?” then they will reply, “Why, so that I may gain blessings.” If you ask them whether their disposition has had some change as a result of all of their years of believing in God, whether they have become certain of God’s existence, whether they have some degree of true understanding or experience of the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements, the answer to all of these will be a categorical “No,” and they will be unable to speak about any of these things. When there has been no improvement or progression in any of the indicators relating to changes in disposition, such a person just constantly renders service. Supposing a person does service for many years and, without realizing it, comes to understand that they possess a corrupt disposition, that they often rebel against God, that they often utter complaints, that they often are unable to obey God, that they are deeply corrupted, that no matter how God tells them to submit to Him they are unable to do so. They attempt to restrain themselves but this does not work, and neither does cursing themselves or swearing oaths. In the end, they discover: “Man truly does possess a corrupt disposition, and that is why he is able to rebel against God. Whenever something happens people always have their own desires, and they are always researching God’s orchestrations and arrangements. Although they are willing to exert themselves, the moment something implicates their disposition and their wild ambitions and desires, intentions and wishes, they are unable to forsake them or let them go. They always want to do things in a way that satisfies themselves. This is me, and I am truly a handful to manage! What can be done?” If they have begun to ponder these things, then they already have some small understanding of human ways. If at some time people who are engaged in service-doing are able to take up the real work, are able to focus their minds upon changes of disposition, gain understanding that in fact they also have a corrupt disposition, that they too are arrogant and unable to submit to God, and that it will not do to continue in this way; when the time comes that they are able to think of these things, then they will have begun to turn themselves around and there is hope that their disposition might change and that they might attain salvation. Suppose that someone never thinks of these things, and all they know is how to labor, thinking that finishing the work in their hands is all that is required to complete God’s commission, and that once they have finished exerting themselves they will have properly performed their duty, never thinking about what God’s requirements are, about what the truth is, or about whether they may be counted as someone who obeys God—they never ponder these things. Can someone who approaches their duty in such a way attain salvation? The answer is no. They have not set foot upon the path to attaining salvation or on the right track of belief in God, nor have they established normal relations with God, and yet still they exert themselves and engage in service-doing in the house of God. This kind of person does service in the house of God, and God looks after and protects them, but He does not plan to save them, nor does He deal with them and prune them, nor judge and chastise them, nor subject them to trials or refinement; He only allows them to gain some measure of blessings in this lifetime, and nothing more. If a time comes when these people know to reflect on these things and understand the sermons they hear, they will realize: “So, this is what believing in God is all about. Well then, I must seek to attain salvation. If I don’t, and instead settle for rendering service, then that will have nothing to do with belief in God.” They then ponder: “What aspects of a corrupt disposition do I possess? What exactly is this thing, this corrupt disposition? No matter what, first I must submit to God!” These things relate to the truth and to changes of disposition, and there is hope for them.
—“Only by Seeking the Truth Principles Can One Perform Their Duty Well” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
No matter what duty you fulfill, you must always seek to grasp God’s will and understand what His requirements are regarding your duty; only then will you be able to handle matters in a principled way. In performing your duty, you absolutely cannot go by your personal preferences, by just doing whatever you would like to do, whatever you would be happy and comfortable doing, or whatever would make you look good. If you forcibly impose your personal preferences on God or practice them as though they were the truth, observing them as if they were the truth principles, then that is not fulfilling your duty, and performing your duty in this way will not be remembered by God. Some people do not understand the truth, and they do not know what it means to fulfill their duties well. They feel that since they have put their heart and effort into it, forsaken their flesh and suffered, then the fulfilling of their duties should be up to standard—but why, then, is God always dissatisfied? Where have these people gone wrong? Their mistake was to not seek out God’s requirements, and instead act according to their own ideas; they treated their own desires, preferences, and selfish motives as the truth, and they treated them as though they were what God loved, as though they were His standards and requirements. They saw what they believed to be correct, good, and beautiful to be the truth; this is wrong. In fact, even though people might sometimes think something is right and that it accords with the truth, that does not necessarily mean that it accords with God’s will. The more people think something is right, the more cautious they should be and the more they should seek the truth to see whether what they are thinking meets God’s requirements. If it happens to run counter to His requirements and counter to His words, then it is unacceptable even if you think it is right, it is but a human thought, and it will not necessarily accord with the truth no matter how right you think it is. Your determination of right and wrong must be based solely on God’s words, and no matter how right you think something is, unless there is a basis for it in God’s words, you must discard it. What is duty? It is a commission entrusted by God to people. So how should you fulfill your duty? By acting in accordance with God’s requirements and standards, and by basing your behavior on the truth principles rather than on human subjective desires. In this way, your fulfilling of your duties will be up to standard.
—“Only by Seeking the Truth Principles Can One Perform Their Duty Well” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Whatever sort of talents, gifts, or skills one has, if they simply take action and exert themselves in performing their duty, and, no matter what they do, rely on their imaginings or notions, or on their own instincts as they exert themselves, and never seek the will of God, and there is not any concept or need in their heart that says, “I must put the truth into practice. I am performing my duty”; and their sole impetus is to do their job well and complete their tasks, then are they not someone who lives entirely by their gifts, talents, abilities, and skills? Are there many such people? In faith, they think only of exerting themselves, selling their own labor, and selling their own skills. Particularly when God’s house gives people general work to do, most will take such a point of view in doing it. All they do is exert themselves. Sometimes that means using their mouth to speak a bit; sometimes it means using their hands and physical strength; and sometimes it means using their legs to run about. Why is it said that relying on those things to live is using one’s strength, rather than putting the truth into practice? When someone has accepted a task given to them by God’s house, they think only of how to complete it as soon as possible, so that they can give an account to their leaders and gain their praise. They might lay out a step-by-step plan, and they may appear quite earnest, but they focus only on completing the task so that others may see, or when they are doing it, they set their own standards to judge their performance, based on how they can act such that they might arrive at happiness and contentment, and achieve the level of perfection they strive for. No matter what standards they set for themselves, if they are unconnected to the truth, and they do not seek the truth, or to understand and confirm what God asks of them before taking action, instead acting blindly, in bewilderment, then what they are doing is mere exertion. They are acting according to their own wishes, by dint of their own mind or their gifts, or on strength of their own abilities or skills. What is the consequence of acting this way? The task may have been accomplished, and perhaps no one found fault with it, and you may feel very pleased—but, in the course of doing it, firstly, you did not understand God’s will, and secondly, you did not act with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength—you did not put your whole heart into it. If you had sought the truth principles and sought the will of God, then you would have accomplished nine-tenths of the task, and you would also have been able to enter into the truth reality and to understand correctly that what you were doing was in accord with God’s will. If you acted carelessly and haphazardly, however, though the task was done, you would not know in your heart how well it was done. You would have no benchmark, and you would not know whether it accorded with God’s will or with the truth. Therefore, to describe any performance of duty in such a state, two words will suffice—exerting yourself.
Everyone who believes in God should understand His will. Only those who perform their duties well can satisfy God, and only by completing the tasks with which He entrusts them can one’s performance of their duty be satisfactory. There are standards for the accomplishment of God’s commission. The Lord Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Loving God is one aspect of what He requires of people. In truth, so long as God has given people a commission, and so long as they believe in Him and perform their duty, these are the standards that He requires of them: that they act with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind, and with all their strength. If you are present but your heart is not—if the memory and thoughts of your mind are present, but your heart is not—and if you accomplish things by means of your own abilities, are you fulfilling God’s commission? So, what is the standard that must be met in order to fulfill God’s commission, and to perform your duty loyally and well? It is to do your duty with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. If you attempt to perform your duty well without a heart of love for God, it will not work. If your love for God grows ever stronger and more genuine, then you will naturally be able to perform your duty with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
—“Exactly What People Have Been Relying on to Live” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Most people do their duties in this state of mind: “If someone leads, I follow. I will follow them wherever they lead, and do whatever they ask me to do.” Taking on responsibility or concern or paying extra attention, on the other hand, are things they cannot achieve and prices they are unwilling to pay. They have a share in exerting physical effort, but they do not share in the responsibility. This is not truly doing one’s duty. You must learn to put your heart into your duty; if one has a heart, one must be able to use it. If someone never uses their heart, this proves they are heartless, and a heartless person cannot attain the truth! Why can they not attain the truth? They do not know how to come before God; they do not know how to put their heart into perceiving God’s enlightenment and guidance, or how to put their heart into contemplation, or into seeking the truth, or into seeking, understanding and showing consideration for God’s will. Do you have those states in which you are able to be quiet before God often, and in which, no matter what arises and no matter your duty, you are able to come often before God, and use your heart to contemplate God’s words, and put your heart into seeking the truth and contemplating how your duty should be performed? Are there many such times? Putting your heart into your duty and being able to take responsibility require you to suffer and to pay a price—it is not enough simply to talk about it. If you do not put your heart into your duty, instead wanting always to exert physical effort, then your duty will certainly not be done well. You will simply go through the motions and nothing more, and you will not know how well you have done your duty. If you put your heart into it, you will gradually come to understand the truth; if you do not, then you will not. When you put your heart into performing your duty and pursuing the truth, you then become gradually able to understand God’s will, to discover your own corruption and deficiencies, and to master all your various states. If you do not use your heart to examine yourself, and focus only on making external efforts, then you will be unable to discover the different states that arise in your heart and all the reactions you have to different external environments; if you do not use your heart to examine yourself, then it will be hard for you to resolve the issues in your heart. Therefore, you must use your heart and your honesty to praise and worship God. To use your heart and honesty to worship God, you must have a heart that is quiet and sincere; in the deepest recesses of your heart, you must know to seek God’s will and the truth, and you must contemplate how to do your duty well, contemplating which parts of your duty you do not yet understand and how to do your duty better. Only by thinking of these things often in your heart will you be able to gain the truth. If these things are not what you contemplate often in your heart, and your heart is filled instead with things of the mind or external things, occupied with such things that have nothing to do with using your heart and honesty to worship God—nothing whatsoever to do with it—are you then able to gain the truth? Do you have a relationship with God?
—“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Your attitude toward your duty is, “I’ll see how little I can do, what I can get away with”; you drag your feet, unconcerned with how long a delay you cause. But if you took things seriously, you would get them done in no time at all. There are some things you do not know how to do, so I give you exact instructions. You do not have to think, you just have to listen and get on with it—but even that is beyond you. Where is your loyalty? It is nowhere to be seen! You are all talk and no heart. Even when your heart understands, you do nothing. This is someone who does not love the truth! If you can see it with your eyes and feel it in your heart but still do nothing, then why even have a heart? Your scrap of conscience does not govern your actions, it does not direct your thoughts—so what use is it? It counts for nothing; it is just decoration. Man’s faith is truly pathetic! And what is pathetic about it? Even when he does understand the truth, he does not put it into practice. Even when he thoroughly understands the problem, he does not take responsibility for it; he knows that it is his responsibility, but he does not put his heart into it. If you do not take on the responsibilities that are within your grasp, what is the value of those meager responsibilities that you do undertake? What effect do they have? You are just making a token effort, saying things for the sake of it. You do not put your heart into it, much less all your energy. This is not performing your duty to an acceptable standard, there is no loyalty involved; you are just living by the sweat of your brow, getting by as a follower of God. Is there any significance to faith like this? Such faith is so paltry—what is it worth? When you perform your duty, you must pay a price. You must take it seriously. What does it mean to take it seriously? Taking it seriously does not mean putting in a little effort or suffering some physical torment. What is key is that there is God in your heart, and a burden. In your heart, you must weigh the importance of your duty, and then carry this burden and responsibility in all you do and put your heart into it. You must make yourself worthy of the mission God has given you, as well as everything God has done for you, and His hopes for you. Only doing so is being serious. There is no use in you going through the motions; you may trick people, but you cannot fool God. If there is no real price and no loyalty when you perform your duty, then it is not up to standard. If you do not take your faith in God and performance of your duty seriously; if you always go through the motions and are perfunctory in your actions, like an unbeliever working for their boss; if you just make a token effort, muddling through each day as it comes, ignoring messes when you see them, seeing a spill and not cleaning it up, and indiscriminately dismissing everything that is not to your own benefit—then is this not trouble? How could someone like this be a member of God’s household? Such people are outsiders; they are not of the house of God. In your heart, you are clear about whether you are being true, being serious, when you perform your duty, and God keeps account, too. So, have you ever taken the performance of your duty seriously? Have you ever taken it to heart? Have you treated it as your responsibility, your obligation? Have you taken ownership of it? Have you ever spoken up when you have discovered a problem when performing your duty? If you have never spoken up after discovering a problem, nor even thought to, if you are disinclined to concern yourself with such things, and think the less trouble the better—if that is the principle you take toward them, then you are not performing your duty; you are living by the sweat of your brow, you are doing service. Service-doers do not belong to the house of God. They are employees; after finishing their work they take their money and leave, each goes their own way and becomes a stranger to the other. That is their relationship with the house of God. Members of the house of God are different: They take pains over everything in God’s house, they take responsibility, their eyes see what needs doing in God’s house and they keep those tasks in mind, they remember everything they think and see, they are emburdened, they have a sense of responsibility—these are members of God’s house. Have you reached this point? (No.) Then you still have a long way to go, so you must keep pursuing! If you do not consider yourself a member of God’s house and eliminate yourself, then how does God look upon you? God does not treat you as an outsider; it is you who put yourself beyond His door. So, objectively speaking, what kind of person are you exactly? You are not in His house. Does this have anything to do with what God says or determines? It is you who have placed your end and position outside the house of God—who else is there to blame?
—“Performing Duty Well Requires a Conscience, at the Very Least” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
On the surface, some people do not seem to have any serious problems. They do not cause disruptions or disturbances, or do what the wicked do, and they do not walk the path of the antichrists. In performing their duty, they do not have any mistakes or problems of principle come up, yet, without realizing it, they are exposed. Why is this so? People cannot see an issue, but God scrutinizes their innermost hearts, and He sees the problem. As time goes on and they remain unrepentant, they ought to be exposed. What does it mean to remain unrepentant? It means they act always with the wrong attitude, an attitude of carelessness and perfunctoriness, a casual attitude, and they are never conscientious, much less devoted. They may put in a little effort, but they are just going through the motions. They are not giving it their all, and their transgressions are without end. God, from His vantage, has never seen them repent or seen them change their careless and perfunctory attitude—that is, they do not relinquish the evil in their hands and repent to Him. God does not see in them an attitude of repentance, and He does not see a reversal in their attitude. They are persistent in regarding their duty and God’s commission with such an attitude and such a method. Throughout, there is no change in this stubborn, intransigent disposition, and, what is more, they have never felt indebted to God, have never felt that their carelessness and perfunctoriness is a transgression, an evildoing. In their hearts, there is no indebtedness, no guilt, no self-reproach, and much less is there self-accusation. And, as much time passes, God sees that this person is beyond remedy. No matter what God says, and no matter how many sermons they hear or how much of the truth they understand, their heart is not moved and their attitude is not altered or turned around. God says: “There is no hope for this person. Nothing I say touches their heart, and nothing I say turns them around. There is no means of changing them. This person is unfit to perform their duty, and they are unfit to render service in My house.” And why is this so? It is because when they perform their duty and do work, no matter how much forbearance and patience extended to them, it has no effect and cannot make them change. It cannot make them do better, it cannot allow them to embark on the path of truly pursuing the truth. This person is beyond remedy. When God determines that a person is beyond remedy, will He still keep a tight hold on this person? He will not. God will let them go. Some people always beg, “God, go easy on me, don’t make me suffer, don’t discipline me. Give me some freedom! Let me do things a little carelessly and perfunctorily! Let me be a bit dissolute!” They do not want to be restrained. God says, “Since you do not wish to walk the right path, then I shall let you go. I shall give you free rein. Go and do what you want. I shall not save you, for you are beyond remedy.” Do those who are beyond remedy have any sense of conscience? Do they have any sense of indebtedness? Do they have any sense of accusation? Are they able to sense God’s reproach, discipline, smiting, and judgment? They cannot feel it. They are unaware of any of these things; these things are faint in their heart, or even absent. When a person has come to this stage, with God no longer in their heart, can they still achieve salvation? It is hard to say. When one’s faith has come to such a point, they are in trouble. Do you know how you should pursue, how you should practice, and what path you should choose to avoid this consequence and assure that such a state will not arise? What is most important is first to choose the correct path, and then to focus on performing well the duty you should perform at present. This is what is most important. The thing that most directly and perceptibly reflects the bond that links you to God is how you treat the matters God entrusts to you and the tasks He assigns you, and the attitude you have. What is observable most directly is this issue. When you have grasped this crucial point and fulfilled the commission God has given to you, your relationship with God will be normal. If, when God entrusts a task to you, or tells you to perform a certain duty, your attitude is cursory and apathetic, and you do not see it as a priority, is this not precisely the opposite of giving all your heart and strength? So, your attitude when performing your duty is of crucial importance, as are the method and path you choose. What is the result of performing your duty carelessly and perfunctorily, and treating it lightly? It is the poor performance of your duty, though you are capable of performing it well—your performance will not be up to standard, and God will not be satisfied with your attitude toward your duty. If, originally, you had sought and cooperated normally; if you had devoted all your thoughts to it; if you had put your heart and soul into doing it, and put all your effort into it, and had devoted a period of your labor, your striving, and your thoughts to it, or had devoted some time to referencing materials, and committed the whole of your mind and body to it; had you been capable of such cooperation, then God would be up ahead, guiding you. You do not need to exert much strength; when you spare no effort in cooperating, God will have already arranged everything for you. If you are wily and treacherous, and, halfway through the job, you have a change of heart and go astray, then God will show no interest in you; you will have lost this opportunity, and God will say, “You are not good enough; you are useless. Go stand off to the side. You like being lazy, no? You like being deceitful and cunning, do you not? You like resting? Well then, take a rest.” God will give this grace and opportunity to the next person. What do you say: Is this a loss or a win? It is an enormous loss!
For some people, no matter what issue they might encounter when performing their duties, they do not seek the truth, and they always act according to their own thoughts, notions, imaginings, and desires. They are constantly satisfying their own selfish desires, and their corrupt dispositions are always in control over their actions. Though they may complete the duties to which they have been assigned, they do not gain any truth. So, what are such people relying on when performing their duties? They are relying neither on the truth nor on God. That bit of truth that they do understand has not taken up sovereignty in their hearts; they are relying on their own gifts and abilities, on whatever knowledge that they have acquired, and on their talents, as well as on their own willpower or good intentions, to complete these duties. Is this doing their duty well? Is this doing their duty satisfactorily? Though you may sometimes rely on your naturalness, imagination, notions, knowledge, and learning to fulfill your duty, no issues of principle emerge in some of the things you do. On the surface, it looks as though you have not taken the wrong path, but there is one thing that cannot be overlooked: During the process of performing your duty, if your notions, imaginings, and personal desires never change and are never replaced with the truth, and if your actions and deeds are never done in accordance with the truth principle, then what will the final outcome be? You will become a service-doer. This is precisely what was written in the Bible: “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:22–23). Why does God call these people who exert effort and who render service, “you that work iniquity”? There is one point we can be sure on, and that is that no matter what duties or work these people do, their motivations, impetus, intentions, and thoughts arise entirely from their selfish desires, are totally based on their own ideas and personal interests, and their considerations and plans completely revolve around their reputation, status, vanity, and future prospects. Deep down, they possess no truth, nor do they act in accordance with the truth principle. Thus, what is crucial for you to seek now? (We should seek the truth, and perform our duties in accordance with God’s will and requirements.) What specifically should you do when performing your duties in accordance with God’s requirements? With regard to your intentions and ideas when doing something, you must learn how to discern whether or not they accord with the truth, as well as whether your intentions and ideas are geared toward fulfilling your own selfish desires or the interests of God’s house. If your intentions and ideas accord with the truth, then you can do your duty in line with your thinking; however, if they do not accord with the truth, then you must quickly turn around and abandon that path. That path is not right, and you cannot practice that way; if you continue to walk that path, then you will end up committing evil.
—“How to Experience God’s Words in One’s Duties” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Peter was made perfect through experiencing dealing and refinement. He said, “I must satisfy God’s desire at all times. In all that I do I only seek to satisfy God’s desire, and whether I am chastised, or judged, still I am happy to do so.” Peter gave his all to God, and his work, words, and entire life were all for the sake of loving God. He was someone who sought holiness, and the more he experienced, the greater was his love for God deep within his heart. Paul, meanwhile, did only outward work, and though he also worked hard, his labors were for the sake of doing his work properly and thus gaining a reward. Had he known that he would receive no reward, he would have given up his work. What Peter cared about was the true love within his heart, and that which was practical and could be achieved. He did not care about whether he would receive a reward, but about whether his disposition could be changed. Paul cared about working ever harder, he cared about outward work and devotion, and about the doctrines not experienced by normal people. He cared nothing for changes deep within him nor for the true love for God. The experiences of Peter were in order to achieve true love and true knowledge of God. His experiences were in order to gain a closer relationship to God, and to have a practical living out. The work of Paul was done because of that entrusted to him by Jesus, and in order to obtain the things that he longed for, yet these were unrelated to his knowledge of himself and God. His work was solely for the sake of escaping chastisement and judgment. What Peter sought was pure love, and what Paul sought was the crown of righteousness. Peter experienced many years of the work of the Holy Spirit, and had a practical knowledge of Christ, as well as a profound knowledge of himself. And so, his love of God was pure. Many years of refinement had elevated his knowledge of Jesus and life, and his love was an unconditional love, it was a spontaneous love, and he asked for nothing in return, nor did he hope for any benefits. Paul worked for many years, yet he did not possess a great knowledge of Christ, and his knowledge of himself was also pitiably small. He simply had no love for Christ, and his work and the course that he ran were in order to obtain the final laurel. What he sought was the finest crown, not the purest love. He did not seek actively, but passively; he was not performing his duty, but was compelled in his pursuit after having been seized by the work of the Holy Spirit. And so, his pursuit does not prove that he was a qualified creature of God; it was Peter who was a qualified creature of God who performed his duty. Man thinks that all those who make a contribution to God should receive a reward, and that the greater the contribution, the more it is taken for granted that they should receive God’s favor. The essence of man’s viewpoint is transactional, and he does not actively seek to perform his duty as a creature of God. For God, the more that people seek a true love for God and complete obedience to God, which also means seeking to perform their duty as a creature of God, the more they are able to gain God’s approval. God’s viewpoint is to demand that man recover his original duty and status. Man is a creature of God, and so man should not overstep himself by making any demands of God, and should do nothing more than perform his duty as a creature of God. The destinations of Paul and Peter were measured according to whether they could perform their duty as creatures of God, and not according to the size of their contribution; their destinations were determined according to that which they sought from the beginning, not according to how much work they did, or other people’s estimation of them. And so, seeking to actively perform one’s duty as a creature of God is the path to success; seeking the path of the true love for God is the most correct path; seeking changes in one’s old disposition, and seeking the pure love for God, is the path to success. Such a path to success is the path of the recovery of the original duty as well as the original appearance of a creature of God. It is the path of recovery, and it is also the aim of all of God’s work from beginning to end. If the pursuit of man is tainted with personal extravagant demands and irrational longings, then the effect that is achieved will not be changes in man’s disposition. This is at odds with the work of recovery. It is undoubtedly not work done by the Holy Spirit, and so this proves that pursuit of this kind is not approved of by God. What significance has a pursuit that is not approved of by God?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks
All that Peter sought was after God’s heart. He sought to fulfill God’s desire, and regardless of the suffering and adversity, still he was willing to fulfill God’s desire. There is no greater pursuit by a believer in God. What Paul sought was tainted by his own flesh, by his own notions, and by his own plans and schemes. He was by no means a qualified creature of God, was not someone who sought to fulfill God’s desire. Peter sought to submit to God’s orchestrations, and although the work he did was not great, the motivation behind his pursuit and the path that he walked were right; though he was not able to gain many people, he was able to pursue the way of truth. Because of this it can be said that he was a qualified creature of God. Today, even if you are not a worker, you should be able to perform the duty of a creature of God and seek to submit to all of God’s orchestrations. You should be able to obey whatever God says, and experience all manner of tribulations and refinement, and though you are weak, in your heart you should still be able to love God. Those who take responsibility for their own life are willing to perform the duty of a creature of God, and such people’s viewpoint about pursuit is the right one. These are the people that God needs. If you did much work, and others gained your teachings, but you yourself did not change, and did not bear any testimony, or have any true experience, such that at the end of your life, still none of what you have done bears testimony, then are you someone who has changed? Are you someone who pursues the truth? At the time, the Holy Spirit used you, but when He used you, He used the part of you that could be used to work, and He did not use the part of you that could not be used. If you sought to change, then you would gradually be made perfect during the process of being used. Yet the Holy Spirit accepts no responsibility for whether or not you will ultimately be gained, and this depends on the manner of your pursuit. If there are no changes in your personal disposition, then that is because your viewpoint toward pursuit is wrong. If you are granted no reward, then that is your own problem, and because you yourself have not put the truth into practice and are unable to fulfill God’s desire. And so, nothing is of greater importance than your personal experiences, and nothing is more critical than your personal entry! Some people will end up saying, “I’ve done so much work for You, and though I may not have made any celebrated achievements, still I have been diligent in my efforts. Can’t You just let me into heaven to eat the fruit of life?” You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy, then it will be intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and who are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect. If you only look to rewards, and do not seek to change your own life disposition, then all your efforts will be in vain—this is an unalterable truth!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks