My Emotions Clouded My Judgment
By Zhou Ming, China
I got your letter. In your letter you said that our children have been cleared out from the church. I just couldn’t accept this at first. I remember a few years ago when I came home, Xiaotao and Xiaomin were still gathering and performing duties, so how did they come to be cleared out? Though they didn’t really pursue the truth, they were both true of faith. Was the leader asking too much of them? Was clearing them out a mistake? I even aimed my complaints at you. Our children were following the ways of the world, just cared about chasing money, and weren’t willing to do a duty or eat and drink of God’s word. I wondered why you hadn’t fellowshiped with them. I felt if only I’d been home, I’d have helped and supported them more and I wouldn’t have let them get to the point of being cleared out. These were the kinds of thoughts that filled my head, and I’d lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, haunted by the happy memories of us all together, singing God’s praises and eating and drinking of His word. I remember I said to you that I hoped our family could all pursue the truth, be saved by God, and live on in His kingdom, and how wonderful this would be. I’d never expected that as God’s work was about to be concluded, our children would be exposed as nonbelievers and cleared out from the church. Didn’t this mean that they’d lost their chance at salvation? I became more upset the more I thought about it. When I saw the disasters growing and the pandemic worsening, this made me especially worried about our children’s futures. I even wanted to write a letter to the church leader, asking whether our children could stay on in service of the church, so there would be some glimmer of hope for their salvation. Having spent years out on duty due to the CCP’s arrests, I felt I’d not cared for them and that I’d not fulfilled my responsibilities as their father. I felt that I’d owed them. Huijuan, did you know that while I was living in that state, my heart was filled with darkness and depression, and I couldn’t focus on my duty? I realized my state was wrong, so I prayed to God: “God! It pains me to know that my children have been cleared out from the church. Though I know You permit this and that I should submit, I just can’t let go of my children and I feel I’ve owed them so much. God! Please enlighten me to understand the truth on this matter and not be constrained by my emotions.”
After praying, I read God’s word. “Job’s practice was detailed, was it not? First let us talk about how he treated his children. His objective was to submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements in all things. He did not forcibly take the initiative to do anything God did not do, nor did he make any plans or calculations based on human ideas. In all things, he complied with and waited for God’s orchestration and arrangements. This was his general principle. … How did Job treat his children? He just fulfilled his responsibility as a father, sharing the gospel and fellowshiping on the truth with them. However, whether or not they listened to him, whether or not they obeyed, Job didn’t force them to believe in God—he didn’t drag them kicking and screaming, or interfere in their lives. Their ideas and opinions were different to his own, so he did not interfere with what they did, and did not interfere with what sort of path they were taking. Did Job seldom speak to his children about believing in God? He certainly would have had enough words with them about this, but they refused to listen, and did not accept them. What was Job’s attitude toward that? He said, ‘I have fulfilled my responsibility; as for what kind of path they are able to take, that is up to what they choose, and it is up to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. If God does not work, or move them, I will not try to force them.’ Therefore, Job did not pray for them before God, or cry tears of anguish over them, or fast for them or suffer in any way at all. He did not do these things. Why did Job not do any of these things? Because none of these were ways of submitting to God’s rule and arrangements; they all came out of human ideas and were ways of actively forcing one’s way to the forefront. … His method of practice was correct; in every way he practiced, in the viewpoint, attitude and state with which he treated everything, he was always in a situation and state of submitting, waiting, seeking, and achieving knowledge. This attitude is very important. If people never have this kind of attitude in anything they do, and have especially strong personal ideas and place personal motives and benefit before all else, then are they really submitting? (No.) In such people genuine submission cannot be seen; they are unable to achieve genuine submission” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Principles of the Practice of Submitting to God). Reading God’s word revealing Job’s experience, I felt humiliated and ashamed. I saw that Job didn’t rely on emotions in handling his children and that he was able to be rational. Though he hoped that his children would believe in God and keep themselves from evil so that they’d not sin too much and walk the road to destruction, when he saw that they didn’t worship God and lived in dissolution, he didn’t force them to change their ways or compel them to take a certain path. He just submitted to God’s arrangements and refrained from sinning against God. Later, when his children were crushed to death, Job did not blame God. I saw that in handling his children, Job revered and obeyed God. And yet, when I found out my son had left the church for worldly pursuits and my daughter had been cleared out, I focused on my fleshly affection for family. I thought of how they could hold onto some hope of being blessed. No matter whether their faith was sincere or not, or whether they pursued the truth, I just wanted them to be able to stay in the church. I even wanted to have the leader give them another chance, letting them stay on in service to the church in any way possible. When it came to my children, I just wanted to use human methods to salvage things. I wasn’t submitting to God’s sovereignty or arrangements. Especially when I found out my children were labelled as nonbelievers, I not only didn’t seek the truth to discern their essences, but lived under a misunderstanding, doubting whether the leader had handled things fairly, and I lost my drive for my duty. My heart only had room for my children; God had no place in it. I recalled the clear requirements of God’s administrative decrees. “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom). I remember that you said in your letter that others had supported them a lot, and that they themselves had chosen to not repent, to neglect reading God’s word and to stop gathering. This already showed that they were nonbelievers, yet I ignored God’s word and wanted to rely on my emotions to keep them in the church. I was so rebellious. I can’t keep relying on my emotions. In handling our children I have to be like Job, seek the truth, and submit to God’s arrangements. This is the sense that I should have.
Afterwards, I thought about all the people that have been exposed and cast out in recent years. When I saw those removal notices issued by the house of God, I didn’t have any notions. I knew that God is righteous and that in His house, the truth reigns supreme and no person is wronged. But when I saw our children cleared out, why did I not submit to God or praise His righteousness, relying instead on my emotions and doubting whether the church had handled things fairly? I went on to read God’s word. “What characterizes emotions? Certainly not anything positive. It is a focus on physical relationships and satisfying the predilections of the flesh. Favoritism, making excuses for others, doting, pampering, and indulging all fall under emotions. Some people place great stock in emotions, they react to whatever happens to them based on their emotions; in their hearts, they know full well this is wrong, and yet are still incapable of being objective, much less of acting according to principle. When people are always ruled by emotion, are they capable of practicing the truth? This is extremely difficult. Many people’s inability to practice the truth comes down to emotions; they regard emotions as especially important, they put them in first place. Are they people who love the truth? Certainly not. What are emotions, in essence? They are a kind of corrupt disposition. The manifestations of emotions can be described using several words: favoritism, over-protectiveness, maintenance of physical relationships, partiality; these are what emotions are. What are the likely consequences of people’s having emotions and living by them? Why does God most loathe people’s emotions? Some people, always governed by their emotions, cannot put the truth into practice, and though they wish to obey God, they cannot. So, they suffer emotionally. And there are many people who understand the truth but cannot put it into practice. This, too, is because they are governed by emotions. Those who pursue the truth all want to shed their emotions, but to do so is not a simple matter. It’s not enough to simply be free from their constraints—one’s nature and disposition are involved. When some people spend the whole time missing their families, and they think about them day and night, and cease to perform their duty properly, is this a problem? When some people have a secret crush on someone, and this person is the only one in their heart, and this affects their performance of their duty, is this a problem? When some people worship and admire a particular person, and don’t listen to anyone else—only that person—and not even the words of God get through to them, and they are under that person’s control, is this a problem? In their hearts, some people idolize a certain person. For them, this person is beyond reproach or criticism; pick any issues with them and they fly into a rage. They never fail to defend their idol, to claim the opposite of what was said. They can never allow ‘vilification’ of their idol. And they do their utmost to protect their idol’s good name, claiming that wrong is right, not letting people speak the truth, not letting them expose their idol. They are biased—these are their emotions talking” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Reality of the Truth?). From God’s word I understood that emotions belong to a satanic corrupt disposition, and that by relying on emotions, not only can you not view things or people fairly, but you develop biases and favoritism, and you will contravene principles to protect your fleshly relationships. Just like when I learned Xiaotao and Xiaomin had been cleared out, I didn’t seek God’s will, the lessons I should learn, or the aspect of truth I should enter into. Instead, I conjured up the idea that the leader was acting without principles. I worried that our children had been wronged and wanted to follow through by writing a letter to the leader, asking for them to be let off the hook and allowed to keep doing a duty in the church. I saw that acting emotionally with regard to my children was a form of bias and favoritism, and was without principle. After all these years in the faith, I knew that the church has principles for clearing people out and that it is done for a person’s overall behavior rather than a momentary lapse. Only if a person doesn’t repent after extensive help and fellowship, and they are eventually labelled as an evildoer or a nonbeliever, will a person be dealt with according to principles, and only with approval from at least 80% of the church can a person be cleared out. This is fair and in line with the truth. I thought of our son and how I’d asked him why he came out to do a duty. He told me, “I came out to do a duty because I missed you.” I saw that he had no place for God in his heart, that he didn’t love the truth at all, and that he wasn’t doing his duty to pursue the truth. When he saw that God’s house continually fellowshiped the truth and this couldn’t satisfy his desires, he wanted to give up on his duty. The leaders had fellowshiped with him so much but he never listened. He’d play games when he got home instead of reading God’s word. He was a nonbeliever. Likewise with our daughter, she believed for over a decade but rarely ate or drank of God’s word and her viewpoints were like those of unbelievers. Though she did her duty occasionally, whenever it didn’t align with her notions or it affected her interests, she wouldn’t do it. She didn’t have true faith in God and was, in essence, a nonbeliever too. I recall God once said: “When someone is truly classified to God as having withdrawn, it is not merely a matter of their having left His house, of their no longer being around, and of their having been stricken from the church rolls. The fact is that if a person does not read God’s words, then, regardless of the size of their faith, and regardless of whether they profess to be a believer in God, they are shown not to acknowledge in their heart that God exists, nor that His words are the truth. To God, that person has already withdrawn and is no longer counted. Those who do not read God’s words are one sort of people who have withdrawn. … There is another sort: those who refuse to perform duties. Whatever request God’s house makes of them, whatever kind of work it would have them do, whichever duty it would have them perform, in large and small matters alike, even in something so simple as having them pass an occasional message along—they do not want to do it. They, self-proclaimed believers in God, cannot even do tasks that an unbeliever could be sought out to do; this is a refusal to accept the truth and a refusal to perform a duty. However the brothers and sisters urge them along, they refuse it and do not accept it; when the church arranges some duty for them to perform, they ignore it and make copious excuses. These are the sort of people who refuse to perform duties. To God, such people have already withdrawn. Their withdrawal is not a matter of God’s house having cleared them out or stricken them from its rolls; rather, it is they who no longer have true faith—they do not acknowledge themselves as believers in God” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Twelve). “Who is Satan, who are demons, and who are God’s enemies if not resisters who do not believe in God? Are they not those people who are disobedient to God? Are they not those who claim to have faith, yet who lack truth? Are they not those who merely seek to obtain blessings while being unable to bear witness for God? You still mingle with those demons today and bear conscience and love toward them, but in this case are you not extending good intentions toward Satan? Are you not in league with demons? If people these days are still unable to distinguish between good and evil, and continue to blindly be loving and merciful without any intention of seeking God’s will or being able in any way to harbor God’s intentions as their own, then their endings will be all the more wretched” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together).
Huijuan, having read these words of God I realized how pitifully stupid I’d been. I’d wanted to use human means to keep our children in the church, thinking maybe they’d be saved in the end if they served the church. But in light of God’s word, I see how absurd my thinking was. Really, all those who believe in God but don’t read His word or do a duty are not recognized as believers by God at all, even if they haven’t yet been cleared out, as they’ve already withdrawn in God’s eyes. I compared this with our children’s behavior. After all his years of faith, Xiaotao still followed worldly trends, and didn’t read God’s word or do a duty. I saw that he didn’t love the truth at all and was essentially sick of the truth and a nonbeliever. Xiaomin had been in the faith for years but never focused on reading God’s word, and on this condition alone she could have been cleared out as a nonbeliever. God’s house does not need people like these to pad its numbers, much less the service of such nonbelievers. Even if the church hadn’t cleared them out, God would not have recognized them as believers. I should have discernment of them, stand by God in viewing things in line with principles and the truth, and submit to God’s sovereignty. But I relied on my emotions to handle our children, and without knowing the facts, I suspected the leader had wrongly cleared them out and I wanted these nonbelievers to stay and pad the church’s numbers. I was always protecting my fleshly relationships. Was I not mingling with demons, extending good intentions and love toward Satan, just as God revealed? I couldn’t tell right from wrong, was associating with demons, and was essentially resisting God. With these realizations I fully understood that Xiaotao and Xiaomin being cleared out was completely in line with God’s word, principles of the truth.
I also wondered why I felt so deeply guilty and ashamed when our children were cleared out, and why I felt I’d not fulfilled my responsibilities as a father, suspecting that if only I’d found the time to return home and fellowship and help them more, they’d never have gotten to this point. Huijuan, is your state the same as mine? Later, I read God’s word dissecting and exposing people’s traditional thinking and I saw that I’d been influenced by the traditional notion of “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault.” God’s words say, “‘To feed without teaching is the father’s fault.’ What sort of sentence is this? What is wrong with it? This sentence means that if a child is disobedient or immature, this is due to the father’s negligence, and it’s because the parents have educated them poorly. Is that actually the case, though? (No.) Some parents play by the book and try hard to be good people, yet their sons end up becoming hoodlums and their daughters end up becoming prostitutes. If a father then gets angry and says, ‘“To feed without teaching is the father’s fault”—the child is spoiled by me!’ would those words be correct? (No.) What’s incorrect about them? If you can understand what is wrong with those words, it proves that you understand the truth and can comprehend what the problem with them is. If you do not understand the truth in this, then you cannot talk clearly on this matter” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). “First, we need to clarify that the saying, ‘Children not following the right path has something to do with their parents,’ is incorrect. No matter who they are, a person is the path they walk. Is this beyond doubt? (Yes.) The path a person walks determines what they are. The path they walk and the kind of person they are is their own business. It is ordained, innate, and related to their nature. So, what role do the teachings of one’s parents play? Does it make a difference to people’s nature? (No.) What people are taught by their mother and father makes no difference to their nature; it cannot decide the path one takes. What is it that parents are able to teach? All they can teach their children is certain simple behaviors for everyday life, a few relatively crude thoughts and principles of behavior; these bear some relation to parents. Before their children grow up, parents do what they are supposed to: They teach their children to walk the right path, to study hard, to try and be successful when they grow up, to not do bad things, to not be a bad person. Parents’ responsibilities also include making sure their children follow norms of behavior, teaching them to be polite and to greet their elders, teaching them such things to do with behavior. Parents’ influence covers looking after their children and teaching them certain basic principles of behavior—but a person’s temperament is not something that can be taught by parents. Some parents are phlegmatic and do not do anything in a hurry—whereas their child’s temperament is impatient, they cannot stay anywhere long, and at the early ages of 14 or 15 they start making their own way in life. They decide what they do, they do not need their parents, and they are highly independent. Are they taught this by their mother and father? No. Therefore, a person’s temperament, disposition, even things to do with their essence, and the path they choose in the future—none of these bear any relation to their parents. … Some parents believe in God and teach their children to believe in God—but no matter what the parents say, their children refuse, and there is nothing the parents can do about it. Some parents do not believe in God and their children do, on their own initiative. After they believe in God, the children start to follow Him, expend themselves for Him, become able to accept the truth and gain His approval, and their fates are thereby transformed. Is that the result of the parents’ education? Not in the slightest. It has to do with God’s predestination and selection. There is a problem with the expression ‘To feed without teaching is the father’s fault.’ Though parents have the responsibility to educate their children, they are not the ones who decide their children’s fates; that is determined by their nature. Can education resolve problems with someone’s nature? It cannot, not at all. The path someone takes in their life isn’t decided by their parents, but is ordained by God. As they say, ‘Man’s fate is determined by Heaven.’ This is what humanity has gleaned from experience. You cannot see what anyone’s path will be before they grow up; once they are an adult, they have their own mind, they can figure things out, and so they choose what they will become in this group of people. Some people say they want to work high up in government, others that they want to be a lawyer, or a writer; each makes their own choice. Everyone has some particular idea. No one says, ‘I’ll wait for my parents to teach me, I’ll be whatever they teach me.’ No one is that stupid. After they reach adulthood, people’s minds come alive; slowly but surely, they mature, and the path and goals before them become increasingly clear; at this time, the type of person they are, and the tribe they belong to, gradually comes to the surface, appearing bit by bit. From this time onward, each person’s temperament gradually becomes clear, as does their disposition, and the path they strive for, their life’s direction, and the tribe they belong to. What is this based on? In the final analysis, this is ordained by God, and has nothing to do with their parents—this is now clear to see, right?” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). God’s word clearly dissected the traditional notion of “To feed without teaching is the father’s fault.” Our children’s futures and the paths they walk are entirely decided by their natures, which are innate. They are also determined by God’s sovereignty and have nothing to do with our parenting. Parenting can only affect a child’s daily life or some of their external behaviors, but not their natures at all. Once children mature in their thinking they choose different paths in accordance with their inborn natures, finding their way into the categories they belong to. This is predestined by God and cannot be changed by any person. But I couldn’t perceive our children’s natures or essences when it came to the path they took in their faith. I even wanted to help our children in my own way, so they would stay in the faith and in the church. I vainly hoped to rely on my own methods to salvage their fates. I was stubbornly resisting God. I am just an insignificant created being and don’t even have control over my own fate, so how could I hope to control the futures of my children or change their fates? I was so arrogant and ignorant, and overrated my own abilities. Then I wondered, “Why do I think like this?” I recalled how when they were little, we all used to believe in the Lord together and when we accepted God’s work of the last days we brought them to church and encouraged them to take on a duty. I’d thought that their being able to believe in God was directly related to our parenting. So when I learnt that they’d been cleared out, I thought that I’d not fulfilled my responsibilities as a father and that if I’d just been with them more to help and fellowship with them, maybe they wouldn’t have forsaken their faith and gone out into the world. From God’s word I now see how utterly absurd my views were and how they didn’t align with the truth at all. They’d believed in God for over a decade, read His word, listened to sermons and knew that a true life had to be lived by pursuing the truth and doing the duty of a created being. But they had no interest in the truth and when seeing they weren’t being blessed after their years of faith, they started indulging the flesh. They betrayed God and followed worldly trends despite knowing the true way and even with others often fellowshiping with them and helping them, they were stubborn and unrepentant. This shows that they are truly sick of the truth and that they uphold evil. They are not among those to be saved by God, but among the devils of this world. When they are destroyed in the coming disasters, it will be because they betrayed God, and it will be their fault alone. I also thought about the many people in the church who were not converted by their parents, but rather through chance, by colleagues, friends, or even strangers who shared the gospel with them, and their parents’ persecution couldn’t keep them from believing or doing a duty. Some parents rely on emotions to keep preaching to their children, but the children don’t believe and even resent and resist their parents. Some parents are expelled because of their unrepentant pursuit of status and numerous evils, yet their children remain unaffected and can even see into their parents’ essences in line with God’s word and reject them. Likewise, many children are cleared out and expelled and their parents are able to discern their essences in light of God’s word. From this we can see that whether a person walks the right path or the wrong one, whether they are good or evil people, whether they love or hate the truth, and even what their final outcome is, is entirely determined by their nature and essence and not a result of parenting. The responsibility parents can fulfill is raising their children to adulthood and bringing them before God. But the path they take and their fate is wholly out of the parents’ control. Our children have chosen by themselves to take the wrong path and my fulfilling my responsibilities as a father wouldn’t bring them back. This has nothing to do with whether I have fulfilled these responsibilities. Their natures are sick of the truth. Even if I stayed with them and spent all my days fellowshiping with them, it’d be for nothing. Our responsibilities as parents were to raise them and bring them before God. As for what they pursue and the path they take, these have nothing to do with us as parents. When I treated our children in line with God’s word, I felt much more liberated and was no longer disturbed in my duty.
Huijuan, this is what I have gained from the situation. I know that your affection for our children is strong and that this all must have been very hard for you. I don’t know how you’ve gotten through this. Though our children being cleared out may not have aligned with our notions, there must be lessons for us to learn from the situation God has created. I hope that you will be able to seek the truth in this and treat the matter correctly. You can write to me if you have gained anything from this situation, too. I look forward to your response.
August 20, 2022
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