147. The Principles of How to Treat Relatives of the Flesh
(1) If a wife, husband, and their children all believe in God, they should read His words often, fellowship on the truth, support each other, and revere Christ as the Lord;
(2) If one’s wife, husband, or children do not believe in God, yet are not opposed to belief, they should be offered testimony to God and fellowship of the truth, as long as doing so accords with the principles of spreading the gospel;
(3) A wife, husband, or child who opposes belief in God and hates the truth should be treated wisely. Evil people must not be enlisted into belief in God;
(4) Whether one should leave their family should be decided based on whether their unbelieving family members resist them or persecute them, as well as on the degree of such persecution.
Relevant Words of God:
In God’s words, what principle is mentioned with regard to how people should treat each other? Love what God loves, and hate what God hates. That is, the people God loves, who truly pursue the truth and do God’s will, are the very ones you should love. Those who do not do God’s will, who hate God, who disobey Him, and whom He despises are ones we, too, should despise and reject. This is what God’s word requires. If your parents do not believe in God, then they hate Him; and if they hate Him, then God certainly loathes them. So, if you were told to hate your parents, could you do it? If they resist God and revile Him, then they are certainly people He hates and curses. Under such circumstances, how should you treat your parents if either they obstruct your believing in God, or if they do not? During the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus said, “Who is My mother? And who are My brothers? … For whoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.” This saying already existed back in the Age of Grace, and now God’s words are even more apt: “Love what God loves, and hate what God hates.” These words cut straight to the point, yet people are often unable to appreciate their true meaning. If a person is cursed by God, but from all outward appearances seems to be quite good, or is a parent or relative of yours, then you might find yourself unable to hate that person, and there might even be a good deal of intimacy and a close relationship between you. When you hear such words from God, you get upset and are unable to harden your heart toward or abandon such a person. This is because there is a traditional notion here that is binding you. You think that if you do this, you will incur the wrath of Heaven, be punished by Heaven, and even be cast aside by society and condemned in the court of public opinion. Furthermore, an even more pragmatic problem is that it will be on your conscience. This conscience comes from what your parents taught you from childhood, or from the influence and infection of social culture, either of which has planted such a root and way of thinking inside you that you cannot practice God’s word and love what He loves and hate what He hates. However, deep down, you know that you should hate them and reject them, for your life came from God, and was not given by your parents. Man ought to worship God and return himself to Him. Even though you say and think that, you simply cannot come around and are simply unable to put it into practice. What is going on here? It is that these things have bound you, tightly and profoundly. Satan uses these things to bind your thoughts, your mind, and your heart so that you cannot accept God’s words. Such things have filled you up completely, to the point that you have no room for God’s words. Moreover, if you try to put His words into practice, then those things will take effect inside you and make you controvert His words and requirements, thus making you unable to extricate yourself from these knots and unable to break free from this bondage. It will be hopeless, and, without the strength to struggle, you will give up after a while. Some people manage to struggle free, while others give up. “Traditional notions and moral standards are what matter,” they think. “Let’s set God’s words aside. We’re living in this world, after all, and we have to rely on these people.” Rather than court negative public opinion and censure, which they would be unable to bear, they choose to offend God, abandon the truth and God’s words, and surrender themselves to the bondage of public opinion or traditional notions. Is man not pitiful? Does he not have need of God’s salvation?
Excerpted from “Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Every person who lives in our present society, no matter how much education they have received, has many things within their thinking and views. Traditional Chinese women, in particular, believe a woman’s place is in the home, that women must be good wives and mothers who spend and devote their whole lives to their husbands and children. Three meals a day for their family, cleaning, laundry—they must do everything in the house, and do it exceptionally well. This is, of course, the standard in our society for a “good wife and mother.” Every woman believes this is how she should act, and that, if she does not, she is not a good woman, and will have gone against her conscience, and will have violated standards of morality. There are even some who, having played this role poorly or without regard for society’s standards, are gnawed by conscience, and feel they have let down their children and their husband. Does having come to believe in God and being called to perform your duty create a conflict with your being a good wife and mother, a model mom, a woman who conforms to standards? If you wish to be a good wife and mother, then you cannot spend one hundred percent of your time on your duty. When a conflict arises between your role as a wife and mother and your duty, which do you choose? If you chose to perform your duty and take responsibility for the work of God’s house, to do all you can, with absolute devotion to God, and, in doing so, were obliged to set aside your wifely and maternal obligations, how would you feel? What would reverberate in your mind? Would you feel you have failed your children? Where does this sense of failure, this unease come from? Do you feel uneasy when you have not performed the duty of a created being well? You are not uneasy, nor do you feel blame, because this positive thing is not instilled in your thoughts, views, and conscience. What, then, is instilled in them? Being a good wife and mother. If you are not a good wife and mother, then you are not a good woman, not a “decent” woman. Is that not your standard? This standard binds you; you are made to carry it with you as you believe in God and perform your duty. When a conflict arises between performing your duty and being a good wife and a loving mother, though you may reluctantly choose to perform your duty or be loyal to God, there will be a measure of unease in your heart, and a greater measure of blame. When you are not performing your duty, you go home and take good care of your children or your husband, trying to make up for your absence, though, in doing so, you endure greater hardship of the flesh. It is a mental injunction that makes you do this. Yet have we performed our responsibility, our obligation, and our duty before God? When we are careless and perfunctory in our duty, or when we do not wish to do it, is there a sense of blame in our hearts, or a sense of reproach? We feel not the slightest reproach, as such a thing does not exist within people’s humanity. Therefore, though you might perform a bit of your duty, you remain quite removed from the standards of the truth and of God. God said, “God is the source of man’s life.” What is the meaning of these words? They are meant to let all people know this: Our lives and our spirits come from God, not from our parents, and certainly not from mankind, or this society of ours, or from nature. They were given to us by God, and, though our fleshly bodies are birthed by our parents, it is God who controls our destinies. That we can believe in God is an opportunity He has given us; it is ordained by Him, and it is His grace. Therefore, you are under no obligation to undertake obligations or to take responsibility for any other person; your only obligation is to perform for God the duty a created being should perform. This is what man is most supposed to do, and, among all the great matters in a person’s life, it is the one they most ought to complete—it is the main affair of one’s life. If you do not perform your duty well, you are not a true created being. In the eyes of man, you may be a good wife and mother, a wonderful housewife, a dutiful daughter, and an upstanding member of civil society, but, before God, you are one who rebels against Him, one who performs none of their obligations or duty, and one who did not fulfill the commission they accepted from God. Would such a person still have standing before God? Such a person is not worth a copper penny.
Excerpted from “Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Filial piety to your parents: Is this the truth? (No.) Filial piety to one’s parents is not wrong, it is a positive thing—but why do I say it is not the truth? If your parents believe in God and treat you well, are you filial? (Yes.) How are you filial? You treat them differently from the other brothers and sisters. You respect them as parents, you do everything they say, and if they are old, you stay by their side to care for them, which stops you from going out to perform your duty. Is it right to do this? What should you do at such times? This depends on the circumstances. If you are still able to look after them whilst performing your duty nearby, and your parents do not object to your faith in God, then you should fulfill your responsibility as a son or daughter and help your parents. If they are ill, look after them; if something is troubling them, comfort them; if your financial circumstances allow, buy them the proper supplements and nutrition. What, however, should you choose to do if you are busy with your duty, there is no one to look after your parents, and they, too, believe in God? What truth should you practice? Given that filial piety to parents is not a truth, but merely a personal responsibility and obligation, what should you do when there is a conflict between your obligations and your duty? (Our duty takes precedence, it should come first.) Your obligations are not your duty. Performing your duty is practicing the truth; fulfilling your obligations is not practicing the truth. Why do I say this is not practicing the truth? If circumstances allow and you have a certain responsibility or obligation, you should go and do it—but what should you do if the situation does not allow you to? You should say, “I must go and perform my duty. This is the truth I must practice; filial piety to my parents is not.” If you have no duty at the moment, and are not working away from home, and are with your parents, then find a way to care for them, do what you can to make their lives better and a little less arduous. But this also depends on what kind of people your parents are. What should you do if they are of poor humanity, a constant drag on your faith in God and your performance of your duty, and they obstruct your faith in God? What truth should you practice? (Rejection.) At such a time, you must reject them. You have fulfilled your obligation; they do not believe in God, so you have no obligation to take care of them. If they believe in God, then you are family, they are your parents. If they do not believe in God, then you walk separate paths, you are two different sorts of people. They embrace Satan. They venerate Satan. They walk the path of Satan, the path of worshiping Satan, a path that is different from your faith in God. You are two different types of people, and so there is no question that they are your enemies; you are not of the same family, and so you are under no obligation to care for them. Which is the truth? Performing one’s duty is the truth. Performing your duty in the house of God is not simply fulfilling some minor obligation, doing a little of what you are supposed to do—it is the performance of your duty as a creature of God living in the world! This is your obligation, your responsibility, and this responsibility is true responsibility, it is the fulfillment of your responsibility and obligation before the Lord of creation. Between performing the duty of a creature of God and filial piety to your parents, which is the truth? Performing the duty of a creature of God is the truth, it is a heaven-sent vocation. Filial piety to parents is filial piety to people, it is not practicing the truth.
Excerpted from “What Is Truth Reality?” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Kin who are not of the faith (your children, your husband or wife, your sisters or your parents, and so on) should not be forced into the church. God’s household is not short of members, and there is no need to make up its numbers with people who have no use. All those who do not believe gladly must not be led into the church. This decree is directed at all people. You should check, monitor, and remind each other of this matter; no one may violate it. Even when kin who are not of the faith do reluctantly enter the church, they must not be issued books nor given a new name; such people are not of God’s household, and their entry into the church must be halted by any means necessary. If trouble is brought upon the church due to the invasion of demons, then you yourself will be expelled or will have restrictions placed upon you. In short, everyone has a responsibility in this matter, though you should not be reckless, nor use it to settle personal scores.
Excerpted from “The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Those who drag their utterly unbelieving children and relatives into church are all extremely selfish, and they are just exhibiting kindness. These people only focus on being loving, regardless of whether they believe or not and regardless of whether it is God’s will. Some bring their wives before God, or drag their parents before God, and whether or not the Holy Spirit agrees with this or is working in them, they blindly continue to “adopt talented people” for God. What benefit can possibly be gained from extending kindness toward these nonbelievers? Even if they, who are without the presence of the Holy Spirit, struggle to follow God, they still cannot be saved as one might believe. Those who can receive salvation are not actually so easy to obtain. People who have not undergone the Holy Spirit’s work and trials, and have not been perfected by God incarnate, are utterly incapable of being made complete. Therefore, from the moment they begin to nominally follow God, those people lack the Holy Spirit’s presence. In light of their conditions and actual states, they simply cannot be made complete. As such, the Holy Spirit decides not to expend much energy upon them, nor does He provide any enlightenment or guide them in any way; He merely allows them to follow along, and will ultimately reveal their outcomes—this is enough. Humanity’s enthusiasm and intentions come from Satan, and in no way can these things complete the Holy Spirit’s work. No matter what people are like, they must have the work of the Holy Spirit. Can humans make humans complete? Why does a husband love his wife? Why does a wife love her husband? Why are children dutiful to their parents? Why do parents dote on their children? What sorts of intentions do people actually harbor? Is their intent not to satisfy their own plans and selfish desires? Do they truly mean to act for the sake of God’s management plan? Are they really acting for the sake of God’s work? Is their intent to fulfill the duties of a created being? Those who, ever since the moment they began to believe in God, have been unable to attain the presence of the Holy Spirit, can never gain the work of the Holy Spirit; these people have been designated as objects to be destroyed. No matter how much love one has for them, it cannot replace the work of the Holy Spirit. People’s enthusiasm and love represent human intentions, but cannot represent God’s intentions, and nor can they be a substitute for God’s work. Even if one extends the greatest possible amount of love or mercy toward those people who nominally believe in God and pretend to follow Him without knowing what it actually means to believe in God, they will still not obtain God’s sympathy, nor will they gain the work of the Holy Spirit. Even if people who sincerely follow God are of poor caliber and unable to understand a lot of truths, they can still occasionally gain the work of the Holy Spirit; however, those who are of relatively good caliber, but do not sincerely believe, simply cannot gain the Holy Spirit’s presence. There is absolutely no possibility for salvation with such people. Even if they read God’s words or occasionally listen to sermons, or even sing praises to God, they will ultimately not be able to survive until the time of rest.
Excerpted from “God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, was not greedy or hedonistic as a result of God’s blessings to him, and he did not fixate upon quality of life. Instead, he was humble and modest, he was not given to ostentation, and he was cautious and careful before God. He often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God. In his daily life, Job often rose early to offer burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. In other words, not only did Job himself fear God, but he also hoped that his children would likewise fear God and not sin against God. Job’s material wealth held no place within his heart, nor did it replace the position held by God; whether for his own sake or his children’s, Job’s daily actions were all connected to fearing God and shunning evil. His fear of Jehovah God did not stop at his mouth, but was something he put into action and reflected in each and every part of his daily life. This actual conduct by Job shows us that he was honest, and was possessed of an essence that loved justice and things that were positive. That Job often sent and sanctified his sons and daughters means he did not sanction or approve of his children’s behavior; instead, in his heart he was frustrated with their behavior, and condemned them. He had concluded that the behavior of his sons and daughters was not pleasing to Jehovah God, and thus he often called on them to go before Jehovah God and confess their sins. Job’s actions show us another side of his humanity, one in which he never walked with those who often sinned and offended God, but instead shunned and avoided them. Even though these people were his sons and daughters, he did not forsake his own principles of conduct because they were his own kin, nor did he indulge their sins because of his own sentiments. Rather, he urged them to confess and gain Jehovah God’s forbearance, and he warned them not to forsake God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment. The principles of how Job treated others are inseparable from the principles of his fear of God and shunning of evil. He loved that which was accepted by God, and loathed that which repulsed God; he loved those who feared God in their hearts, and loathed those who committed evil or sinned against God. Such love and loathing was demonstrated in his everyday life, and was the very uprightness of Job seen by God’s eyes. Naturally, this is also the expression and living out of Job’s true humanity in his relations with others in his daily life, about which we must learn.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Another side of Job’s humanity is demonstrated in this exchange between him and his wife: “Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9–10). Seeing the torment he was suffering, Job’s wife tried to give Job advice to help him escape his torment, yet her “good intentions” did not gain Job’s approval; instead, they stirred his anger, for she denied his faith in, and obedience to Jehovah God, and also denied the existence of Jehovah God. This was intolerable to Job, for he had never allowed himself to do anything that opposed or hurt God, to say nothing of others. How could he remain indifferent when he saw others speak words that blasphemed against and insulted God? Thus he called his wife a “foolish woman.” Job’s attitude toward his wife was one of anger and hate, as well as reproach and reprimand. This was the natural expression of Job’s humanity—differentiating between love and hate—and it was a true representation of his upright humanity. Job was possessed of a sense of justice—one which made him hate the winds and tides of wickedness, and loathe, condemn, and reject absurd heresy, ridiculous arguments, and ludicrous assertions, and allowed him to hold true to his own, correct principles and stance when he had been rejected by the masses and deserted by those who were close to him.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Though quite a few people believe in God, may appear on the outside to be very spiritual, but with regard to the views and attitudes of parents toward children and of children toward parents, they are clueless about how to put this aspect of the truth into practice, as well as about which principles should be applied in treating and dealing with these matters. In a parent’s eyes, the parent is always a parent and the child is always a child; as such, the relationship between parent and child becomes very difficult to deal with. Actually, in a lot of things, parents refuse to budge from their status as parents. They always see themselves as the elders, and they think that at all times, children must listen to their parents, and that this fact will never change. This leads to constant resistance from their children. Such viewpoints leave both sides miserable, wretched, and exhausted. Is this not a manifestation of not understanding the truth? When people do not understand the truth, they are always constrained by status. How could they not suffer as a result? In such cases, then, how is the truth to be practiced? (By letting go of yourself.) What does letting go mean? With what sort of viewpoint and attitude should you treat this matter in order to genuinely let go? How do you implement this letting go? It is actually pretty simple. You must be an ordinary person, and not constrained by status. Treat your children and other members of your family the same as you would ordinary brothers or sisters. Although you have a responsibility toward them, and a relationship of the flesh with them, nevertheless, the position and perspective you should have is the same as you should have with friends or ordinary brothers and sisters. You absolutely must not stand in the position of a parent, and must not hold your children back, fetter them, or try to control everything about them. You should treat them as equals. You should allow them to make mistakes, to say the wrong things, to do childish and immature things, and to do stupid things. No matter what happens, you should sit down and calmly talk with them, and seek the truth. In this way, you will be talking to them with the right attitude, and the problem will be resolved. What are you letting go of here? You are letting go of the position and status of a parent, the airs of a parent, and all of the responsibility you think you should assume as a parent; instead, it is enough that you do the best you can in terms of responsibility as an ordinary brother or sister. … Many parents think that as long as it is for their children’s sake, whatever they do is right. They truly have such thoughts and points of view. How could you not make mistakes? You, too, are a corrupted human, so how can you determine that you are without error? As long as you admit that you do not possess the truth and that you are a corrupted human, then you have faults and can make mistakes. You are capable of making mistakes—yet how is it that at every turn, you try to take charge of your children and make them constantly obey you? Is this not an arrogant disposition? This is an arrogant disposition, and a ferocious one at that.
Excerpted from God’s Fellowship
Each person has a fate, and it is destined by God. No one can control another’s fate, so when it comes to your family, relax, and learn how to let go and put everything aside. How do you do that? Partly, it is through praying to God. You must also ponder this: The non-believers in your family pursue the world, they pursue material gratification, and they pursue wealth—what kind of path do they walk? If you do not perform your duty, and live with them, are you likely to suffer pain and torment? If you live with them, will you get along with them? Will you think the same way? Apart from your affection for each other, is there anything else? No. So what is the depth of this affection? You care about them so much, but how do they feel about you? Can you really find peace and happiness living with them? It can only bring you pain and emptiness. You do not walk the same path as them; your outlook on the world, on life, your life’s path, what you pursue—they are all different. Today, when you are apart from your family, your blood ties cause you to still always feel a kinship with them, and that they are your family. But when you really are with them, it does not even take a year—after a month, you have had enough. You cannot bear to hear their views, their way of dealing with people, their philosophies for living, the lies that fill their mouths, their ways and means of doing things, their outlook on life, or their values, and you think to yourself, “I used to miss them all the time, and I was constantly afraid their lives were hard. But now that I live with them, my life is insufferable!” You develop an aversion to them. Right now, it is still not clear to you what kind of people they are, so you still think that blood ties are more important than anything else, more real. You are still ruled by emotion. If you can put matters of emotion aside, then do so completely; if you cannot do this, then put your duty first, your mission and commission are what are most important; first complete your commission, your mission, and your duty, and ignore the rest for the time being. Once people have performed their commission and duty well, the truth becomes increasingly clear to them, their relationship with God becomes increasingly normal, their desire to obey God grows ever greater, their reverence for God grows ever greater and more evident, and there is a change in their inner state. Once your state changes, your worldly views and affections will begin to dissipate, and you will no longer pursue such things. Your heart will seek how to love God, how to satisfy God, how to live out a semblance that satisfies God, and how to live a life with truth. Once your heart endeavors in this regard, those things to do with affections of the flesh will slowly fade away, and they will no longer be able to shackle or control you.
Excerpted from “The Principles of Practice Concerning Submission to God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Those words spoken in the past, “When one believes in the Lord, fortune smiles upon one’s entire family,” are suitable for the Age of Grace, but are unrelated to humanity’s destination. They were only appropriate for a stage during the Age of Grace. The connotation of those words was directed at the peace and material blessings that people enjoyed; they did not mean that the entire family of one who believes in the Lord will be saved, nor did they mean that when one obtains good fortune, one’s entire family can also be brought into rest. Whether one receives blessings or suffers misfortune is determined according to one’s essence, not according to any common essence one might share with others. That sort of saying or rule simply has no place in the kingdom. If a person is ultimately able to survive, it is because they have met God’s requirements, and if they are ultimately unable to remain until the time of rest, it is because they have been disobedient toward God and have not satisfied God’s requirements. Everyone has a suitable destination. These destinations are determined according to each individual’s essence, and have absolutely nothing to do with other people. A child’s wicked behavior cannot be transferred to their parents, nor can a child’s righteousness be shared with their parents. A parent’s wicked behavior cannot be transferred to their children, nor can a parent’s righteousness be shared with their children. Everyone bears their respective sins, and everyone enjoys their respective fortune. No one can be a substitute for another person; this is righteousness. From man’s perspective, if parents obtain good fortune, then their children should be able to, too, and if children commit evil, then their parents must atone for those sins. This is a human perspective and a human way of doing things; it is not God’s perspective. Everyone’s outcome is determined according to the essence that comes from their conduct, and it is always determined appropriately. No one can bear the sins of another; even more so, no one can receive punishment in another’s stead. This is absolute. A parent’s doting care for their children does not indicate that they can perform righteous deeds in their children’s stead, nor does the dutiful affection of a child to their parents mean that they can perform righteous deeds in their parents’ stead. This is what is truly meant by the words, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” People cannot take their evildoing children into rest on the basis of their deep love for them, nor can anyone take their wife (or husband) into rest on the basis of their own righteous conduct. This is an administrative rule; there can be no exceptions for anyone. In the end, doers of righteousness are doers of righteousness, and evildoers are evildoers. The righteous will eventually be allowed to survive, while the evildoers will be destroyed. The holy are holy; they are not filthy. The filthy are filthy, and not one part of them is holy. The people who will be destroyed are all the wicked ones, and the ones who will survive are all the righteous—even if the children of the wicked ones perform righteous deeds, and even if the parents of the righteous ones commit evil deeds. There is no relationship between a believing husband and an unbelieving wife, and there is no relationship between believing children and unbelieving parents; these two types of people are completely incompatible. Prior to entering into rest, one has physical relatives, but once one has entered into rest, one will no longer have any physical relatives to speak of. Those who do their duty are enemies of those who do not; those who love God and those who hate Him are in opposition to one another. Those who will enter into rest and those who will have been destroyed are two incompatible types of creatures. Creatures that fulfill their duties will be able to survive, while those that do not fulfill their duties will be objects of destruction; what is more, this shall last through eternity. Do you love your husband in order to fulfill your duty as a created being? Do you love your wife in order to fulfill your duty as a created being? Are you dutiful to your unbelieving parents in order to fulfill your duty as a created being? Is the human view on believing in God right or wrong? Why do you believe in God? What do you wish to gain? How do you love God? Those who cannot fulfill their duties as created beings, and who cannot make an all-out effort, will become objects of destruction. There are physical relationships that exist between the people of today, as well as associations by blood, but in the future, these will all be shattered. Believers and unbelievers are not compatible; rather, they are opposed to one another. Those in rest will believe that there is a God and will submit to God, whereas those who are disobedient to God will all have been destroyed. Families will no longer exist upon earth; how could there be parents or children or spousal relationships? The very incompatibility of belief and unbelief will have utterly severed such physical relationships!
Excerpted from “God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh