God’s Words Are Our Only Lens for Viewing Others
By Shunjie, USA
Sheila and I go way back and I knew her well. Whenever we met up, she would always chat with me about her current state. She’d say she was always suspicious of others and cared a lot what others thought of her. She also said she could be very petty, and was always analyzing what people meant. She could get upset about the slightest look on someone’s face, their tone, or even some offhand remark. She didn’t want to be that way, but she couldn’t help it. She’d often say that she was deeply corrupted, treacherous and lacking in humanity, that she hated how much she prized reputation and status, and would cry as she talked. Seeing how regretful and disgusted she was with herself, I thought she really wanted to change. Perhaps this corrupt disposition was serious. It was her Achille’s heel and change wouldn’t come easy; it would take time. So I thought I should be empathetic. No matter how busy I was with my duty, if she wanted to chat, I would put aside my work and listen to her pour out her heart, and would often encourage, console and fellowship with her. But what I couldn’t understand was why even though Sheila seemed reasonable in her fellowship and knew herself well, when others pointed out her problems, she’d think they held her in contempt and she’d become negative. This happened time and again and never changed. What’s more, she had spoken with many people about this issue, had opened up many times and many people had fellowshiped with her. But after several years, she still hasn’t shown the slightest sign of improvement.
I remember one time, a supervisor was going over an issue we’d had with watering newcomers, saying we hadn’t been caring and patient enough with the newcomers, and didn’t fellowship and support them right away when they didn’t attend gatherings, which was irresponsible. The supervisor was saying this to all the watering workers, and wasn’t singling out anyone in particular. But Sheila said that the supervisor was exposing her and making her lose face, so she didn’t want to speak during the gathering. Another time, a brother was fellowshiping about his current state, and said that sometimes when he was dealing with others of poor caliber he didn’t treat them fairly. He went on to fellowship on his experience and how he improved and gained entry. But when Sheila heard this, she thought he was talking about her, and that the brother was disparaging her caliber and looking down on her. She was negative for many days after that, developed a bias against the brother, and shunned and ignored him. Another time, while discussing work, the supervisor pointed out a small issue with how Sheila watered newcomers, and she suddenly began crying and ran out, not returning until quite a while later. She sat silently to the side, tears streaming down her face, as if she had been deeply wronged. When I saw the expression on her face, I couldn’t quiet my heart and the gathering was disturbed. Ultimately, the supervisor had no choice but to comfort and encourage her, after which she finally settled down. Later on, the leader fellowshiped with her, pointing out that she prized reputation and status too much, and had to be at the center of everyone’s care and attention to do her duty. She was even less accepting of this: On the one hand she said the supervisor’s criticism was biased and unfair, while also saying that she had a difficult nature, and wanted to change but was unable to do so. She also said, “There’s no saving me. How did I have this kind of nature? Why is everyone else better than me and blessed with less complicated thoughts? Why didn’t God give me a good nature?” When I heard her say all this, I thought, “How obnoxious and unreasonable of her. How can she blame God?” But then I thought that maybe she’d been in a bad state recently, and only said these things because her reputation and status had been threatened. Perhaps when her state improved she would quit being like that.
But later I realized that no matter who she was with, she was always constrained by their expressions—if she thought someone was being cold to her or if she didn’t like their tone, she would conclude that that person had it out for her. In my own interactions with her, I would be extremely careful, always worried that I’d somehow offend her, make her become negative and delay her duties. It was suffocating trying to interact with Sheila and I often wanted to avoid her. But then I’d remember that I was corrupted too, and shouldn’t always be looking critically at others. I had to be caring and considerate of others’ struggles, and be tolerant and compassionate. So I forced myself to interact normally with her and tried my best not to offend her.
Later on, because Sheila didn’t accept the truth at all, was being unreasonable, and was disrupting the church, the leader dismissed her and asked her to isolate and reflect. I was quite surprised when I heard the news, because even though Sheila was too concerned with reputation and status and was often suspicious of others, she was still quite willing to open up and fellowship, and seemed to be seeking the truth. So why would she be isolated? It was only later on during a gathering, when the leaders read out the evaluations of Sheila and used (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). As soon as someone says something that threatens their interests, such people speak unreasonably and make a scene. Their dispositions are so vicious that others become afraid to offend and confront them. They seriously disturb the brothers and sisters and church life. Sheila was like that all along. When others pointed out her issues, she wouldn’t consider whether what they said was true and didn’t reflect, instead focusing on their tone and attitude. If they weren’t to her liking, she’d lose it and either resent them and form a poor opinion of them, thinking they had it out for her and looked down on her, or would let out her discontent by crying. This constrained other people, who always had to either avoid or accommodate her. Our supervisor went over the problems in our watering work to help us improve and do our duties better, but Sheila thought the supervisor was singling her out and bringing up her past mistakes, so she formed a poor opinion of the supervisor and continually cried as if she’d been wronged, which disrupted the whole gathering and made everyone upset. When a brother fellowshiped on his state, saying that he was unable to treat people fairly, she thought he was disparaging and looking down on her, so she ignored him, and even started bawling in order to vent her grievances. So people didn’t dare confront or offend her, and could only speak to her in a delicate way, appeasing her and going along with her. Only then would she do her duty. Sheila had been acting like that for years. She would form a poor opinion of whoever harmed her reputation and status or threatened her interests. She would even say the reason she was negative was other people’s attitude towards her, which was a completely unreasonable inversion of the truth. Wasn’t she just one of those unreasonable people God exposed? Only after realizing this did I see that being suspicious of others and being too concerned with reputation were not Sheila’s only problems; she didn’t accept the truth at all and was a vexatious and unreasonable person. I reflected on how when I saw that Sheila would often discuss her state, open up about her corruption, analyze herself in gatherings and would even break down in tears and remorse when discussing her corruption, I thought she must have real knowledge of herself and be a seeker of the truth. What was wrong with my understanding?to dissect her behavior, that I gained some discernment of her. says, “Unreasonable, relentlessly vexatious people think only of their own interests when they act. They do whatever they want, and their speech is full of preposterous heresies. They are impervious to reason, and brimming with a vicious disposition. No one dares associate with them, and no one is willing to fellowship about the truth with them, for fear of inviting disaster upon themselves. People feel nervous speaking their minds to them, afraid that if they say one word that is not to their liking or not in line with their wishes, they will seize upon it and make outrageous accusations. Are such people not evil? Are they not living demons? All those with vicious dispositions and unsound reason are living demons. And when someone interacts with a living demon, they may bring disaster upon themselves with just a moment’s carelessness. Would it not spell trouble if such living demons were present in the church? (It would.) After these living demons have thrown their tantrums and vented about their anger, they may speak like a human for a while and apologize, but they will not change afterward. Who knows when their mood will sour and when they will throw another tantrum, spouting their preposterous heresies. The target of their raging and venting is different each time; as is the source and background of their outbursts. Anything can set them off. Anything can make them feel dissatisfied, and anything can make them react in a rude and unreasonable way. How scary, and how troublesome! These evil people act as if they are mentally ill. They may lose their minds at any time, and no one knows what they are capable of doing. I have the greatest hatred for such people. Every one of them should be cleansed away—they must all be cleared out. I do not wish to engage with them. They are muddled in thought and brutish in temperament, they are filled with preposterous heresies and gibberish, and when things befall them, they vent about them in an impetuous way. … They will not admit that they have a problem, instead they shift the responsibility onto others. They will even blame their behavior on other people, claiming that they have been mistreated, as if all their tantrums and senseless trouble-making were caused by someone else, and they had no choice but to act that way. They make out as if they were acting in self-defense, that it was all other people’s fault. As soon as they feel dissatisfied, they start venting their anger, spewing nonsense, and spouting their preposterous heresies. They act as if someone else were to blame, as if they alone are good and everyone else is bad. And no matter how many tantrums they throw, and whatever preposterous heresies they spout, they still want others to speak well of them. When they have done something bad, they do not allow anyone to expose it or blame them. If you say something bad about them, they will bother you about it endlessly and never let the matter drop. Who are these people? They are unreasonable, relentlessly vexatious people, and all of them are evil”
Later on, after fellowshiping on God’s words with my brothers and sisters, I finally gained some discernment of her so-called “self-knowledge.” “When some people fellowship their self-knowledge, the first thing out of their mouths is, ‘I’m a devil, a living Satan, someone who resists God. I disobey Him and betray Him; I’m a viper, an evil person who should be cursed.’ Is this true self-knowledge? They only speak in generalities. Why do they not offer examples? Why can they not bring the shameful things they did out into the light of day for analysis? Some undiscerning people hear them and think, ‘Now, that is true self-knowledge! To know themselves as the devil, Satan, and even to curse themselves—what heights they’ve reached!’ Many people, new believers in particular, are prone to be deluded by this talk. They think that the speaker is pure and understands spiritual matters, that this is someone who loves the truth, and is qualified for leadership. However, once they interact with them for a while, they find that this is not so, that the person is not whom they imagined, but is exceptionally false and deceptive, skilled at disguise and impersonation, which comes as a great disappointment. On what basis can people be deemed to truly know themselves? You cannot just consider what they say—the key is to determine whether they are able to practice and accept the truth. For those that truly understand the truth, they not only have true knowledge of themselves, most importantly, they are able to practice the truth. They not only speak about their true understanding, but are also able to truly do what they say. That is, their words and actions are completely aligned. If what they say sounds coherent and agreeable, but they don’t do it, don’t live it out, then in this they have become Pharisees, they are hypocrites, and absolutely not people who truly know themselves. Many people sound very coherent when they fellowship the truth, but don’t realize when they have outpourings of a corrupt disposition. Are these people who know themselves? If people do not know themselves, are they people who understand the truth? All who do not know themselves are people who do not understand the truth, and all who speak empty words of self-knowledge have false spirituality, they are liars. Some people sound very coherent when they speak words of doctrine, but the state in their spirits is numb and dull-witted, they are unperceptive, and they are unresponsive to any issues. It may be said that they are numb, but sometimes, listening to them speak, their spirits seem quite sharp. For example, right after an incident, they are able to know themselves straight away: ‘Just now an idea was made apparent in me. I thought about it and realized that it was crafty, that I was deceiving God.’ Some undiscerning people are envious when they hear this, saying: ‘This person immediately realizes when they have an outpouring of corruption, and is able to open up and fellowship about it, too. They are so quick to react, their spirit is sharp, they’re much better than us. This is truly someone who pursues the truth.’ Is this an accurate way of measuring people? (No.) So what should be the basis for evaluating whether people really know themselves? It must not only be what comes out of their mouths. You must also look at what is really manifested in them, the simplest method for which is to look at whether they are able to practice the truth—this is what’s most crucial. Their ability to practice the truth proves that they truly know themselves, because those who truly know themselves manifest repentance, and only when people manifest repentance do they truly know themselves” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth). Through reading God’s words, I learned that those that truly know themselves can accept the truth, feel ashamed after revealing corruption, and truly repent and transform afterwards. Others, by contrast, say all the right words, calling themselves demons or Satan, as if they have deep self-knowledge, but when faced with pruning, they don’t accept it at all and don’t reflect, and will even repeatedly defend themselves and make specious arguments. No matter how much self-knowledge such people appear to have, it is all a ruse. I thought of how Sheila always chatted with people about her state, saying that she was too concerned with face and constrained by people’s attitudes. She also said she was treacherous and suspicious of others. On the surface, it seemed like she was quite straightforward and candid, was able to spot her own corruption and reflect on herself, even sometimes crying as she spoke. It seemed like she was truly remorseful and despised herself. So I thought that she was a seeker of the truth. But she had been talking about these behaviors for years and yet she never seemed to change. Only through the revelation of God’s words did I see that Sheila’s so-called self-knowledge was just an act; she didn’t really accept the truth or reflect on her corruption. She would often apply various profound-sounding, but empty statements to herself, saying she had poor humanity, was treacherous, malicious, an antichrist and should be sent to hell. It seemed like she had deep self-knowledge, but when others pointed out her issues or pruned and dealt with her, she wasn’t accepting in the slightest, and was even resistant, resentful, vexatious and unreasonable. She would break down in tears and argue over right and wrong, disturbing others to the point where they couldn’t gather and do their duty normally. She severely disturbed church life and the church’s work. In the past, I didn’t understand the truth and lacked discernment, so I was deceived by her outward behavior, and even thought that she was a seeker of the truth. How muddled and foolish I was. Only later did I realize that Sheila wasn’t talking about her state with others because she was seeking the truth in order to resolve her problems and rectify her state, but just because she wanted someone to vent her grievances to, someone to comfort her and help alleviate her suffering. No matter how many people she opened up to, she was always just a disturbance. If she hadn’t been dismissed and her state dissected, I wouldn’t have gained discernment of her. I would have treated her as a sister with tolerance and patience, and may even have been unwittingly deceived by her. It was then that I realized how important it is to view people by God’s words!
Later on, I read a passage of God’s words that gave me some discernment of Sheila’s motives and the tactics she used to deceive. Almighty God says, “How can one distinguish whether a person loves the truth? In one regard, one must look at whether this person can come to know themselves based on God’s word, at whether they can reflect on themselves and feel true remorse; in another regard, one must look at whether they can accept and practice the truth. If they can accept and practice the truth, they are someone who loves the truth and who can obey God’s work. If they only recognize the truth, but never accept or practice it, as some people say, ‘I understand all of the truth, but I can’t practice it,’ this proves they are not someone who loves the truth. Some people admit that God’s word is the truth and that they have corrupt dispositions, and also say that they are willing to repent and remake themselves anew, but after that, there is no change at all. Their words and actions are still the same as before. When they talk about knowing themselves, it is as if they are telling a joke or shouting a slogan. They do not reflect or come to know themselves in the depths of their hearts at all, and most importantly, they have no attitude of remorse. Less still are they opening up about their corruption in a simple way in order to genuinely self-reflect. Rather, they are pretending to know themselves by going through the process and the motions of doing so. They are not people who genuinely know themselves or accept the truth. When such people talk about knowing themselves, they are going through the motions; they are engaging in disguise and fraud, and false spirituality. Some people are deceitful, and when they see others fellowshiping their self-knowledge, they think, ‘Everyone else opens up and analyzes their own deceit. If I don’t say anything, everyone will think I don’t know myself. I’ll have to go through the motions, then!’ After which, they describe their own deceit as gravely serious, illustrating it in dramatic fashion, and their self-knowledge seems especially profound. Everyone who hears feels they truly know themselves, and thereupon looks upon them with envy, which in turn makes them feel as if they are glorious, as if they’ve just adorned themselves with a halo. This manner of self-knowledge achieved by going through the motions, coupled with their disguise and fraud, utterly misleads others. Can their conscience be at ease when they do this? Isn’t this just blatant deceit? If people are only speaking empty words about knowing themselves, then no matter how lofty or good that knowledge seems, they will still continue to reveal a corrupt disposition, just as they did before, without changing at all. That is not genuine self-knowledge. If people can deliberately pretend and deceive in this way, it proves that they do not accept the truth at all, and are just like the unbelievers. By talking about their self-knowledge in this way, they are only following the trend and saying whatever suits everyone’s tastes. Isn’t their knowledge and analysis of themselves deceptive? Is this genuine self-knowledge? It absolutely is not. This is because they are not opening up and analyzing themselves from the heart, and they are only talking a bit about knowing themselves in a false, deceptive way for the sake of going through the motions. Even more serious is that to make others admire and envy them, they deliberately exaggerate to make their problems seem more serious when discussing self-knowledge, meaning their opening up is adulterated with personal intentions and goals. When they do this, they do not feel guilty, their conscience is not uneasy after they disguise themselves and engage in fraud, they feel nothing after rebelling against and deceiving God, and they do not pray to God to admit their mistake. Aren’t people like this intransigent? If they don’t feel guilty, can they ever feel remorse? Can someone without true remorse forsake the flesh and practice the truth? Can someone without true remorse truly repent? Certainly not. If they are not even remorseful, is it not absurd to talk about self-knowledge? Isn’t this just disguise and fraud?” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth). She was fond of talking about her state with others and would use God’s words to reflect upon herself in gatherings. She would describe herself in the gravest of terms. Outwardly, she seemed to have deep self-knowledge and to be extremely remorseful and hateful of herself, but this was all just an act she put on for others to deceive them into thinking she accepted the truth and had knowledge of herself. This so-called self-knowledge was her way of deceiving and hoodwinking others, making them think she was courageously laying herself bare, so that they wouldn’t just fail to discern her, but would also have great respect for her. Also, each time Sheila revealed corruption, she would invoke God’s revelation of antichrists to describe herself, saying that she sought reputation and status, was walking the path of an antichrist, that desire for status had taken over her life and if she didn’t repent, this desire would kill her. But as soon as a situation threatened her reputation and status, she’d go back to her old ways, and so despite fellowshiping on her state for years, she hadn’t achieved any transformation. The leaders had pointed out her issues and fellowshiped with her many times, but she wouldn’t listen and didn’t make any changes. She would even become resistant, debate ceaselessly and make specious arguments. When she saw how others were able to put their egos aside and seek the truth, she didn’t learn from their strengths, instead thinking they were just born with a good nature, and that she couldn’t practice truth and was always suspicious of people because God hadn’t bestowed her with a good nature. She didn’t despise her satanic disposition, and blamed God instead, feeling reproachful of Him and saying He was not righteous. This showed that Sheila’s essence was that of a demon, and was incredibly absurd and unreasonable. If not for the revelation of God’s words, I would have treated her like a seeker of the truth.
Later on, during a gathering, I encountered this passage of God’s words. “Only those who love the truth belong to God’s house; only they are real brothers and sisters. Do you think that all those who often go to assembly are brothers and sisters? Not necessarily. What people are not brothers and sisters? (Those who are sick of the truth, who do not accept the truth.) Those who do not accept the truth and are sick of it are all evil people. They are all people without a conscience or reason. None of them are those whom God saves. These people are devoid of humanity, they are negligent in their work and rampant in their conduct. They live by satanic philosophies and employ crafty maneuvers and use, wheedle, and cheat others. They do not accept the slightest bit of the truth, and they have infiltrated God’s house solely to gain blessings. Why do we call them nonbelievers? Because they are sick of the truth, and they do not accept it. As soon as the truth is fellowshiped, they lose interest, they are sick of it, they cannot stand to hear about it, they feel it is boring and cannot stay seated. They are clearly nonbelievers and unbelievers. And whatever you do, you must not regard them as brothers and sisters. … If they are not interested in the truth, how can they practice the truth? So what do they live by? Without question, they live by the philosophies of Satan, they are always being wily and cunning, they do not have a life of normal humanity. They never pray to God or seek the truth, but handle everything using human tricks, tactics, and philosophies for living—which makes for an exhausting and painful existence. … Those who do not love the truth do not really believe in God. Those who cannot at all accept the truth cannot be called brothers and sisters. Only those who love and are able to accept the truth are brothers and sisters. Now, who are those who do not love the truth? They are all unbelievers. Those who do not at all accept the truth are fed up with and have forsaken the truth. More precisely, they are all unbelievers who have infiltrated the church. If they are able to do all kinds of evil and disturb and disrupt the church’s work, they are the minions of Satan. They should be removed and cast out. They cannot be treated as brothers and sisters. All who show them love are extremely foolish and ignorant” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Through God’s words, I realized that true brothers and sisters are those that love the truth and can accept the truth. They truly expend themselves for God and have testimonies of practicing the truth. Perhaps they can’t speak of any profound self-knowledge, but they love the truth and practice as many of God’s words as they understand. Even though they may commit transgressions, reveal corruption and become negative sometimes, because they seek the truth, when pruned and dealt with or when faced with failure, they can receive it from God, seek the truth and reflect on themselves. When they recognize their problems, they can slowly rectify them and improve. Only such people are true brothers and sisters. As for those that don’t accept and even despise the truth, they cannot be called brothers and sisters. If they have poor humanity and do all kinds of evil that disrupts the church’s work, they are evildoers and antichrists and even less qualified to be called a brother or sister. Even if they remain in the church, they are only false believers who’ve infiltrated God’s house. No matter how long they believe, they will ultimately be exposed and cast out by God. Outwardly, Sheila didn’t seem to have done any great evil, but everything she did disturbed people’s thoughts and impeded them in their duties, and she’d been doing this all along. No matter how others fellowshiped with and supported her, she never made the slightest change, and even debated, argued and acted unreasonably. This showed that Sheila didn’t accept the truth at all and was sick of the truth by nature. She is of the devil’s ilk and not one of our sisters. In the past, I didn’t understand this aspect of the truth and lacked discernment. I thought that as long as one believed in God and recognized His name, they should be treated as a brother or sister. I would blindly sympathize with and tolerate them, foolishly showing them kindness and support without discernment. As a result, many of my efforts were in vain. How foolish and muddled I was.
Now that Sheila has been isolated, I’ve seen how righteous God is. Those that don’t seek the truth and act unreasonably can’t gain a footing in the church, and will ultimately be exposed by God. I also came to understand God’s good intentions: God has arranged situations to let me learn lessons. I have to start seizing them. Going forward, I must put more time and energy into the truth, and view and do things through the lens of God’s words.