24. The Rewards of Fulfilling One’s Duty
By Yang Mingzhen, Canada
Almighty God says, “Submission to the work of God must be real and actual, and it must be lived out. Superficial submission alone cannot receive God’s praise, and merely obeying the superficial aspects of God’s word, without seeking change in one’s disposition, is not after God’s heart. Obedience to God and submission to the work of God are one and the same. Those who submit only to God but not to His work cannot be deemed obedient, much less those who do not truly submit but are outwardly sycophantic. Those who truly submit to God are all able to gain from the work and achieve understanding of the disposition and work of God. Only such people truly submit to God. Such people are able to gain new knowledge, and undergo new changes, from new work. Only these people are praised by God, only these people are perfected, and only these are the ones whose dispositions have changed. Those who are praised by God are those who gladly submit to God, and to His word and work. Only such people are in the right, only such people sincerely want God, and sincerely seek God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God). Reading these words of God reminds me of my experience of submission to God.
It all started in March 2016 when I fled China to escape the Chinese Communist Party’s arrest and persecution, so that I could practice my faith freely. Some time later, the church leader Sister Zhang came to me and asked, “Would you like to take on watering duties?” Overjoyed, I replied, “That would be great! I’ll be able to help brothers and sisters understand the truth and establish a foundation in the true way. That is a good deed!” I thought to myself: If the brothers and sisters who knew me found out I was doing watering duty, they’d really admire me and look up to me. It would make me look so good. Just when I’d gotten my hopes up, however, the leader came to talk with me again. She said some sisters had to move due to emergencies, but they hadn’t found a suitable place. She said my home would work well, and asked if I could do hosting duties. I felt such inner turmoil when she said that. I’d thought I was going to do watering duties, but now it was hosting duty. Wouldn’t I just be spending all my time in the kitchen? It would be hard work, but more than that it would be shaming! Out in the world, I’d dealt in big business and had my own factory. Friends and relatives all called me superwoman. At home, I had the nanny do the laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Now I was to take on that role and cook for others. I really didn’t want to do it. But I thought about how the sisters had nowhere to live and couldn’t do their duties in peace, plus my house was suitable for hosting, so I reluctantly agreed.
Over the next few days, I was doing my hosting duties on the surface, but inside I was in turmoil, and I started getting suspicious. Did my brothers and sisters think I wasn’t suited for watering duties? Why else would they ask me to be a host? If the brothers and sisters who knew me found out, would they say I lacked the reality of the truth, and that I couldn’t do other duties, but could only be a host? This thought made me even more upset. I then thought of the resolution I’d made before God, that no matter what duty I was assigned to, as long as it benefited the church’s work, I would try my best to do it well, and even if I didn’t like it, I would still submit to satisfy God. So why wasn’t I able to submit now that I was being asked to do hosting duties? I said a silent prayer to God. I said, “Oh God, You have ruled and arranged for me to do hosting duties, but I always feel like rebelling and can never submit. Please enlighten and guide me so I can understand Your will.”
Afterward, I read two passages of God’s words: “In measuring whether or not people can obey God, the key thing to look at is whether they desire anything extravagant from God, and whether or not they have ulterior motives. If people are always making demands of God, it proves that they are not obedient to Him. Whatever happens to you, if you cannot receive it from God, cannot seek the truth, are always speaking from your own subjective reasoning and always feeling that only you are right, and are even still capable of doubting God, then you will be in trouble. Such people are the most arrogant and rebellious to God. People who always make demands of God can never truly obey Him. If you make demands of God, this proves that you are making a deal with God, that you are choosing your own thoughts, and acting according to your own thoughts. In this, you betray God, and are without obedience” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. People Make Too Many Demands of God). “What is true submission? Whenever God does something that goes your way, and you feel that everything is satisfactory and proper, and you have been allowed to stand out, you feel this is quite glorious, and you say ‘thank God’ and can submit to His orchestration and arrangements. However, whenever you are assigned to an unremarkable place where you are never able to stand out, and in which no one ever acknowledges you, then you stop feeling happy and find it difficult to submit. … Submitting while conditions are favorable is usually easy. If you can also submit in adverse circumstances—those in which things do not go your way and your feelings get hurt, that make you weak, that make you suffer physically and take a blow to your reputation, that cannot satisfy your vanity and pride, and that make you suffer psychologically—then you truly have stature. Is this not the goal you should be pursuing? If you have such a drive, such a goal, then there is hope” (God’s Fellowship). God’s words showed me that true submission is not a transaction, and that personal choice doesn’t come into it. Whether I like it or not, whether it benefits me or not, as long as it comes from God and helps the church’s work, then I should submit absolutely. But what was I doing instead? When I was asked to do hosting duties, being considerate of God’s will or upholding church work wasn’t on my mind, but instead I only thought about whether I’d be able to show off, to make others look up to me, and whether my vanity would be satisfied. How was that submitting to God? I thought back to when I was a group leader. The church leader always fellowshiped with me first about the work in the church. I used to think the leader thought highly of me, and my brothers and sisters looked up to me. No effort was too great in my duty, and no matter how hard or tiring, I was happy to do it. But faced with hosting duties, I became negative, thinking it was lowly. More importantly, no matter how hard I tried, that effort would be invisible to others. That’s why I felt averse to it, and didn’t want to do it. Only at that point did I see that I put so much effort into my old duty because I could show off and others would look up to me. Hosting duties, however, could in no way satisfy my ambition, so I was unable to submit. I then realized that I’d always had personal preferences and choices in my duty, and all I ever thought about was my reputation, status, and how it benefited me. I wasn’t pursuing the truth or submitting to God at all!
I later read these words of God: “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, and do not accept God’s scrutiny, then is God still in your heart? People like this have no reverence for God. Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, prestige, or reputation. Also do not consider the interests of man. 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 done your utmost to be loyal, done your best to fulfill your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth). I found a path of practice in God’s words. I had to accept God’s scrutiny in my duty, have a God-fearing heart, be able to let go of personal gain and just do whatever benefited the church. After understanding God’s will, I said this prayer: “Oh God, I’m willing to accept Your scrutiny. I won’t focus on what others think of me anymore. I just want to be able to submit to Your arrangements and do my hosting duty well.” Over the days that followed, my church sisters knew I’d just arrived in this foreign country and buying things was hard for me, so they found time to go shopping for essentials with me. They were really busy in their duties, but they would help me with housework when they could. Whenever I had a problem, they would fellowship on God’s words with me, and fellowship on their own experiences to help and support me. None of the sisters looked down on me or shunned me because I was a host. I came to appreciate that there really is no high or low when it comes to doing duties with brothers and sisters. We just perform our duties and obligations before God. After this experience, I thought I was able to submit a little in my duty, but since I had no real understanding of my nature and essence, I still hadn’t completely let go of the pursuit of fame and status. I was exposed again the moment a situation I didn’t like cropped up.
Some time later, the church leader gave me a call saying that Sister Zhou had been very busy preaching the gospel, and she asked if I could spare a half day every Saturday to babysit Sister Zhou’s daughter. I was immediately against this idea of looking after children. I used to be so busy with my business that I didn’t even look after my own kids. Looking after other people’s kids would really make me like a nanny. What would the brothers and sisters who knew me think if they found out about this? How could I show my face? But I thought about the real difficulties Sister Zhou had, and I knew that if I didn’t help, it would be on my conscience. I thought about it for a while and then agreed. That Saturday afternoon, I went to Sister Zhou’s house. I barely made it until the evening when the kid suddenly started bawling and shouting for her mom, and I just couldn’t console her. I rushed around looking for treats to give her to make her happy, I told her stories and put cartoons on for her, and eventually she stopped crying. On my way back, I walked along and thought: “Looking after kids is so hard. It’s not only exhausting, but it’s totally menial and unnoticed.” The more I thought, the more aggrieved I felt. When I got back home, I saw the sisters there happily discussing the rewards and experiences they’d gained from their duties. I felt envious and frustrated. I thought, “When will I be able to do watering duties like my sisters? In this duty I’m doing now, I either scrub pots and pans or I look after little kids. What truths can I gain doing this? Will people say I don’t have the reality of the truth, so I’m only capable of menial labor like this?” This thought upset me even more. That night, I lay in bed tossing and turning, unable to sleep a wink, so I went before God to pray. I said, “Oh God, I feel so upset right now. I always want to do duties that make me stand out, that make others look up to me. Oh God, I know this pursuit is at odds with Your will, but I find it so hard to submit. God, please guide me and lead me, and help me to know myself so that I can leave this wrong state behind.”
I then read some of God’s words: “Man’s corrupt disposition hides within their every thought and idea, within the motives behind their every action; it hides in every viewpoint man has about anything and within every opinion, understanding, viewpoint and desire they have in their approach to all God does. It is concealed within these things” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Being Truly Obedient Is a Real Belief). “A corrupt satanic disposition is very deeply rooted in people; it becomes their life. What exactly do people seek and wish to gain? Under the driving force of a corrupt satanic disposition, what are people’s ideals, hopes, ambitions, and life goals and directions? Do they not run contrary to positive things? Firstly, people always want to have renown or be celebrities; they wish to gain great fame and prestige, and to bring honor to their ancestors. Are these positive things? These are not at all in line with positive things; moreover, they run counter to the law of God’s having dominion over the fate of mankind. Why would I say that? What kind of person does God want? Does He want a person of greatness, a celebrity, a noble person, or a world-shaking person? (No.) So, then, what kind of person does God want? He wants a person with their feet firmly on the ground who seeks to be a qualified creature of God, who can fulfill the duty of a creature, and who can keep to a human’s place. … What then does a corrupt satanic disposition bring to people? (Opposition to God.) What comes of people opposing God? (Pain.) Pain? It is destruction! Pain isn’t the half of it. What you see right before your eyes is pain, negativity, and weakness, and it is resistance and grievances—what outcome will these things bring? Annihilation! This is no small matter and it is no game” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Corrupt Dispositions Can Only Be Resolved by Seeking the Truth and Relying on God). After I’d read God’s words of judgment and revelation, I felt so ashamed. I began to reflect on myself: “Why can I never submit to the situations God arranges? Why aren’t I ever willing to do these seemingly unimportant duties? I feel like others look down on me for doing them, as though I’m inferior. I can’t hold my head up high, and I feel worthless. I feel like only those important duties where I can stand out and win others’ admiration and esteem are worth doing.” As I reflected on these thoughts, I found that I was still being controlled by my desire for fame and status. I was living by satanic poisons like “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” and “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards.” These poisons had long since taken root in me and become my nature. They’d made me so arrogant and conceited. I loved having others look up to me. I loved having a name and status, and I took these things as life goals to pursue. I realized that these were the exact same goals people out in the world pursued. Before I started believing in God, I used to be so competitive. I worked from dawn till dusk and exhausted myself with work in an effort to keep my factory doing well. Whenever I visited my hometown, and my friends and relatives greeted me warmly and called me superwoman, my vanity would be satiated, and I would be willing to pay any price. I still lived by these views after gaining my faith. Doing my duty for reputation and position made me worry about my gains and losses. With a position that others looked up to, I was happy. Without that position, when I couldn’t stand out, I became negative and unhappy, I resisted God, and I resisted the situation God had arranged. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that all these satanic poisons brought me was pain and they made me rebel against God and defy Him in spite of myself. If I carried on with that kind of pursuit, I’d surely end up incurring God’s loathing, and He would eliminate me. The more I thought about it, the more afraid I felt about the path I was following. I rushed to pray and repent to God. I didn’t want to pursue name and status or to have others look up to me anymore, but I wanted to seek to be a genuine created being in line with God’s words. After I’d prayed, my heart grew calmer.
During my devotionals the next day, I read these words of God: “You believe in God and follow God, and so in your heart you must love God. You must cast aside your corrupt disposition, you must seek to fulfill God’s desire, and you must perform the duty of a creature of God. Since you believe in and follow God, you should offer everything to Him, and should not make personal choices or demands, and you should achieve the fulfillment of God’s desire. Since you were created, you should obey the Lord that created you, for you are inherently without dominion over yourself, and have no ability to control your own destiny. Since you are a person who believes in God, you should seek holiness and change. Since you are a creature of God, you should adhere to your duty, and keep your place, and you must not overstep your duty. This is not to constrain you, or to suppress you through doctrine, but is instead the path through which you can perform your duty, and it can be achieved—and should be achieved—by all those who do righteousness” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks). Reading God’s words led me to understand that as a created being, I should submit to God’s rule and arrangements. I should pursue the truth and pursue change in my disposition. This is my duty and it’s what I should pursue. I didn’t like the situation God had arranged, but God’s good intentions were behind it. He’d carefully arranged all of it to purify me and change me. I couldn’t pursue reputation and position, or be picky about my duty anymore. I should focus on pursuing the truth, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words to resolve my corrupt disposition. I should put my all into doing my duty well.
Over the days that followed, I stopped focusing on what others thought of me but did my duty before God. Sometimes when brothers and sisters were busy with their duties and didn’t have time to look after their children, I would offer to help. When I saw brothers and sisters preaching the gospel and bringing more people before God, I felt glad in my heart. Even though I couldn’t stand out in my duty, I was able to put brothers’ and sisters’ minds at rest and quietly do my part for the expansion of the kingdom gospel. This was meaningful, too. While I was doing hosting duties and helping out with childcare, though my vanity and desire for prestige went unsatisfied, I found it so rewarding. I knew that pursuing reputation and position was not the right path. Submitting to God’s rule and arrangements and doing my best in my duty were what I should be pursuing. I truly came to appreciate that there really is no high or low in the duties in God’s house. No matter what duty I do, there are always lessons to learn and truths I should practice and enter into. As long as I submit and pursue the truth, then I will profit from it. This showed me how righteous God is and how He doesn’t favor anyone. Having this tiny bit of understanding and change is a bounty bestowed on my life by God. Thanks be to God!