An Awakening After Exacting Revenge
By Qingping, China
I was serving as a leader in a church for a while. Sister Zhang, the gospel deacon, had a burden for her duty and was really proactive in it. But she was pretty frank and tended to use a harsh tone. Sometimes she’d point out problems she noticed in me very directly. She said I scolded people imperiously, and they felt constrained. At first I could take it with a positive attitude. I felt like what she said didn’t sound nice, but it was all true, so I accepted it and tried to reflect on myself. But after a while, seeing her point out problems in my duty in front of everyone with no regard for my image, over time I just couldn’t accept it anymore, and I became biased against her.
Once, in a gathering with some deacons, I saw no one was talking, so I invited them to bring up any questions or issues. Sister Zhang said curtly, “You don’t like it when I’m too long-winded in fellowship—I feel constrained by you.” She said some other brothers and sisters felt held back by me, too. I saw that a few of the others nodded their heads in agreement. I felt heat rising to my face. To save face, I justified myself, saying speaking harshly was innate for me. She said it wasn’t an issue with my tone, but it stemmed from an arrogant nature. Sister Zhang wasn’t considering my dignity—I was in total inner turmoil. I was thinking it was true she was long-winded in fellowship, so why didn’t she self-reflect, but just created problems with me? She must have something against me, and want to make me look bad in front of others. Would they get annoyed with me and say I scolded people and was too arrogant? These thoughts really reinforced my bias against her.
In another gathering with some deacons, she said in front of everyone that I only fellowshiped on positive things, not my own corruption, and that I hadn’t changed the ways I was arrogant and constrained people much. I felt like she hadn’t said anything about my strengths, only my flaws. Could I really be that bad? The others were sure to get a poor impression of me, and if the leader found out, she might say I hadn’t changed after all that time and didn’t get along well with brothers and sisters, so I might be dismissed. I felt worse about Sister Zhang the more I dwelled on it. She was always publicly calling me out, and I always yielded to her without argument. She was ungrateful and took it too far. She brought up so many of my problems without considering how it made me look. I felt like I had to find the right chance to expose her problems, too, to put her on the spot. At this thought, I bit my tongue and didn’t speak.
In a later gathering I found out that the gospel work Sister Zhang managed wasn’t getting results and there were some problems in her duty. I wanted to point it out openly and make her look bad, but before I could, she asked me about my recent efforts to spread the gospel. I was stumped, and it was really awkward. I felt like she should self-reflect if the gospel work wasn’t going well, not put it on me. She knew I’d been busy with the church’s work and hadn’t been preaching, so by asking that, wasn’t she trying to make me look bad? She was always trying to embarrass me—I couldn’t take that lying down. I should openly talk about her problems, too, so she couldn’t hold her head up. I said to a deacon later, harboring ulterior motives, “There are issues with Sister Zhang’s gospel work and she won’t accept criticism. She won’t self-reflect, but always leaps on others’ problems.” I felt kind of guilty at the time, but then I thought, she was the one who criticized and embarrassed me first, so she deserved that from me. Later, I used the chance of sharing my state in gatherings to spread my bias against her. I said, “When I asked about the gospel work in the last gathering, Sister Zhang didn’t self-reflect on why she wasn’t doing practical work, but asked me how I shared the gospel. I developed a bias against her, like she doesn’t learn lessons in the face of problems.” Some of the others heard this and also thought Sister Zhang lacked self-awareness. I felt really happy at the time that from then on, brothers and sisters would know she didn’t accept the truth, and hopefully they’d start to dislike and ostracize her. That way they wouldn’t trust what she said, and would feel like she wasn’t objective when she’d exposed my issues before. Then I’d maintain my image in brothers’ and sisters’ eyes. When the leader looked into things, the others would say Sister Zhang was no good, and it wasn’t my issue.
During that time, when I saw Sister Zhang’s problems, I didn’t help her like before, and I didn’t follow up on or supervise her work. I thought, when our leader came to see how things were going and saw Sister Zhang wasn’t doing real work, she might deal with her or even dismiss her. The leader soon came to look into why our gospel work wasn’t going well. I wanted to take advantage of that chance to talk about Sister Zhang’s problems so the leader would see she didn’t do practical work or accept supervision, then dismiss her. I could avoid her after that. So I only told the leader about Sister Zhang’s issues in her duty without mentioning at all how she’d learned, repented, and changed. The leader heard me out and felt like Sister Zhang had serious problems, so she asked me to collect others’ assessments of her, and handle it after understanding things. In a gathering after that, I dealt with Sister Zhang really harshly. I said she wasn’t getting results and didn’t let others ask about her work. She wasn’t accepting leaders’ supervision, but was disrupting the work of God’s house. I also said she spoke without considering others’ feelings and had poor humanity. Sister Zhang was really upset when she heard that. She thought since she couldn’t accept the truth, said hurtful things, had poor humanity, and couldn’t do any practical work, she should be dismissed. After that, she stayed stuck in a negative state that she couldn’t turn around, and our gospel work suffered. I actually did have a hard time seeing her in such pain. I wondered if I’d crossed a line, but thinking about how she’d embarrassed me so much before, hurting and humiliating me, I wanted her to get a taste of losing some face. And if she were dismissed, the others would know she had poor humanity and it wasn’t my problem. Afterward I had the others write evaluations of her. Worried they wouldn’t write enough about her problems for her to be dismissed, I went on and on about her faults in front of them. I also purposely asked about whether she resolved actual problems, entirely with the intention of finding evidence of her not doing real work.
After Sister Liu, the upper leader, got an understanding of the situation, she dealt with me harshly: “Sister Zhang pointed out your problems and you wouldn’t accept that, and you judged her in front of a leader, making a mountain out of a molehill. You’re oppressing her and giving her a hard time. You want her dismissed, right? Sister Zhang is direct, but she doesn’t have bad intentions. She says what’s what. The others have said you’re arrogant and you like to chide people, to hold them back. Why won’t you accept suggestions and help, but even oppress others?” I had some resistance. I thought, “It can’t be all my problem—Sister Zhang has to have some faults. You just take her side without looking into things?” I talked about some more of her problems, but afraid the leader would think I didn’t see my own issues, I briefly talked about some of my own corruption. Sister Liu saw I didn’t understand myself at all, so she told me to readexposing how antichrists reject criticism, exclude dissenters, and oppress others. She also dissected how I was doing this to protect my own face and status, that I was on an antichrist’s path. It was hurtful to Sister Zhang and impacted the work of God’s house. She said I’d be dismissed if I didn’t change and repent. That really scared me. I had a feeling I was exposed and eliminated, so I sunk into a negative state. For a while, I just went through the motions in my duty. I didn’t want to fellowship and help brothers and sisters in a bad state, and our church projects weren’t yielding anything. Later, I started hitting so many walls, and finally realized it was wrong that I didn’t learn lessons from criticism, but got negative and resistant. I finally started thinking about how I’d been interacting with Sister Zhang, so I prayed and reflected.
Then I read this in God’s words: “When an antichrist is pruned and dealt with, no matter who does it, what it pertains to, the degree to which they are to blame for the matter, how blatant the error, how much wickedness they commit, or what consequences their wickedness creates for the church—the antichrist doesn’t consider any of this. To an antichrist, the one pruning and dealing with them is singling them out, or deliberately finding faults to punish them. The antichrist may even go so far as to say that they are being bullied and humiliated, that they are not being treated humanely, and that they are being belittled and scorned. After an antichrist is pruned and dealt with, they never reflect on what it was that they have actually done wrong, what sort of corrupt disposition they have revealed, whether they sought the principles in the matter, or whether they acted in accordance with the principles of the truth or fulfilled their responsibilities. They do not examine themselves or reflect on any of this, nor do they ponder these issues. Instead, they approach dealing and pruning with a human perspective, and their approach is hot-headed. Any time an antichrist is pruned and dealt with, they will be full of anger, resentment, and discontent, and will listen to advice from no one. They refuse to accept their being pruned and dealt with, and are unable to come back before God to learn about and reflect on themselves, to address their actions that violate the principles, such as being perfunctory or careless or running amok in their duty, nor do they use this chance to resolve their own corrupt disposition. Instead, they find excuses to defend themselves, to vindicate themselves, and they will even say things to provoke discord and incite others. … Overall, in both what they say and what they do, antichrists never accept the truth. What is a disposition of not accepting the truth? Isn’t it being sick of the truth? That’s precisely what it is” (“They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings” in Exposing Antichrists). I saw from God’s words that antichrists are sick and hateful of the truth. They don’t accept it from God when they’re dealt with, and never seek the truth or reflect on their problems, but are full of grievances and discontent and do their utmost to justify and defend themselves. They think others are making things hard and seize on their faults, humiliating and looking down on them, so they refuse to accept the truth. I was that way, too. When Sister Zhang pointed out my arrogance and the problems in my work, I didn’t self-reflect. I thought she was finding fault with me, trying to make me look bad. So I got back at her, punished her out of anger. When the upper leader exposed me for oppressing Sister Zhang and having poor humanity, taking an antichrist’s path, I felt even more discontent and still argued my case. I thought she favored Sister Zhang, so I got negative and went headlong against that. I realized I saw criticism exactly like antichrists see it, and I was revealing a satanic disposition of being sick of the truth. At that point, I felt like I was in a dangerous state. I wanted to reflect on myself and repent right away, to get off the wrong track.
I read a passage in my devotionals later on. “Are you capable of thinking up various ways to punish people because they are not to your liking or because they do not get along with you? Have you ever done that sort of thing before? How much of it have you done? Were you not always indirectly belittling people, making cutting remarks, and being sarcastic toward them? What states were you in when you were doing such things? At the time, you were venting, and felt happy; you had gained the upper hand. Afterward, however, you thought to yourselves, ‘I did such a despicable thing. I am not God-fearing, and I have treated that person so unfairly.’ Deep down, did you feel guilty? (Yes.) Though you are not God-fearing, you at least have some sense of conscience. Thus, are you still capable of doing this kind of thing again in the future? Can you contemplate attacking and seeking revenge against people whenever you despise them and fail to get along with them, or whenever they do not obey or listen to you? Have you ever done anything like this? What sort of humanity is possessed by a person who does such a thing? In terms of his humanity, he is malicious. Measured against the truth, he does not revere God. In his speech and actions, he has no principles; he acts wantonly and does whatever he pleases. In terms of being God-fearing, have such people achieved any entry? Of course not; the answer is ‘no,’ one hundred percent” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words revealed my exact state. I totally lacked reverence for God and had a vicious humanity. I lashed out at and took revenge on anyone who offended me. When Sister Zhang was so blunt about my issues, I felt like she made me lose face in front of the deacons. At first I could hold back and force myself to accept it, but I had hard feelings toward her after it happened a number of times. I wanted to find faults with and get back at her, and give her a taste of losing face. When I found issues in her work, I didn’t help and even used that chance to scold her and make her look bad. When I didn’t get my way, I got more annoyed and judged her behind her back to get brothers and sisters to dislike and exclude her. I intentionally talked about her issues to the leader, hoping she’d criticize and dismiss her. I thought she wouldn’t cause more trouble with me then, and I could redeem brothers’ and sisters’ image of me. My actions weren’t just incredibly painful and hurtful for Sister Zhang, but they really disrupted gospel work. I saw I had a really sinister, vicious nature. I couldn’t handle the slightest offense—I totally lacked humanity. I thought about God elevating me to serve as a leader. It was so I could work well with others in our duties, so we could help each other and change our life dispositions. But I lashed out at and got revenge on Sister Zhang for my own face and status, stirring up trouble and getting others worked up. I hurt brothers and sisters, and really hindered the work of God’s house. I saw I really was doing evil.
Later, by reading God’s words, I gained some understanding of my vicious nature. God’s words say, “Attack and revenge is one type of action and revelation which comes from a malicious satanic nature. It is also a kind of corrupt disposition. People think like this: ‘If you are unkind to me, then I won’t be just to you! If you don’t treat me with dignity, why would I treat you with dignity?’ What sort of thinking is this? Is it not a vengeful way of thinking? In the views of an ordinary person, is this type of perspective not viable? Does it not hold water? ‘I will not attack unless I am attacked; if I am attacked, I will certainly counterattack,’ and ‘Here’s a taste of your own medicine’—the unbelievers often say such things; among them, these are all rationales that hold water and completely conform to human notions. Yet how should those who believe in God and pursue the truth view these words? Are these ideas correct? (No.) Why are they not correct? How should they be characterized? Where do these things originate from? (From Satan.) They originate from Satan, of this there is no doubt. Which of Satan’s dispositions do they come from? They come from the malicious nature of Satan; they contain venom, and they contain the true face of Satan in all its maliciousness and ugliness. They contain the very essence of that nature. What is the nature of the perspectives, thoughts, expressions, speech, and even actions that contain that nature’s essence? Are they not of Satan? Are these aspects of Satan in line with God’s words? Are they in line with the truth? Do they have a basis in God’s words? (No.) Are they the actions that followers of God should do, and the thoughts and points of view that they should possess? (No.)” (“Only Resolving Your Corrupt Disposition Can Free You From a Negative State” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Antichrists have a ferocious nature. In what kind of people is this the primary disposition? (Evil people.) That’s right. The primary aspect of an evil person’s disposition is ferocious. When a ferocious person is faced with any kind of well-intentioned exhortation, accusation, teaching or help, their attitude is not to thank or accept it humbly, but instead to become enraged, and to feel extreme hatred, enmity, and even a desire for revenge. … Of course, when they retaliate against another because of hatred, it is not because they have an old grudge, but because that person has exposed their mistakes. This shows that regardless of who does so, and regardless of their relationship with the antichrist, merely the act of exposing them can trigger their hatred and instigate their revenge. It does not matter who it is, whether the person who does so understands the truth, or whether they are a leader or worker or an ordinary member of God’s chosen people. Should anyone expose, prune, and deal with the antichrist, they will treat that person as an enemy, and even openly say, ‘If anyone deals with me, I’ll go hard on them. If anyone deals with me, prunes me, exposes my secrets, gets me expelled by the house of God, and robs me of my share of blessings, I’ll never leave them be. That’s how I am in the secular world: No one dares give me trouble, the person who dares to bother me hasn’t been born yet!’ These are the type of angry words antichrists speak when they face being pruned and dealt with. When they speak these angry words, it isn’t to intimidate others, nor is it venting to protect themselves. These are genuine promises of wickedness, and they can stoop to any means available to them. This is the ferocious disposition of antichrists” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Eight)” in Exposing Antichrists). I saw from God’s words that antichrists are vicious, and if anyone provokes them or compromises their face or status, they’ll see them as an enemy, and will take revenge on them. That’s a real demon. Comparing an antichrist’s disposition and behavior to my own, wasn’t I the same? “If I am attacked, I will certainly counterattack,” “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” and “All lay loads on the willing horse” were all satanic poisons I thought were right. Sister Zhang pointed out my issues many times and made me look bad, so I thought getting back at her was okay. If I didn’t hit back, people would think I could be bullied and taken advantage of. I was afraid if she always exposed me in front of everyone, the leader would think I had poor humanity and dismiss me, then my future and position wouldn’t be secure. Though I saw Sister Zhang was revealing a problem I had, I didn’t reflect on myself at all. Instead I lashed out against her, treating her like an enemy, and I wanted to exclude her. Even seeing Sister Zhang miserable in her negative state, and her duty being impacted, I was indifferent. I came down on her to protect my personal interests without considering the church’s work or caring at all how much I hurt her. I was so malicious! I was living by these satanic poisons, living out a vicious, evil satanic disposition without any humanity. I remembered an antichrist I’d encountered before. He also liked having people praise him and speak kindly to him, but when brothers and sisters exposed him, impacting his face and status, he’d lash out, get revenge, give them a hard time, making others negative and weak. He wouldn’t accept leaders exposing him and would find things against them, spreading notions and being judgmental. He was so disruptive the church’s work couldn’t continue normally. Leaders fellowshiped and helped him many times, but he didn’t want to repent. He ended up expelled from the church for doing so much evil. Wasn’t I being just as vicious as him, taking revenge on Sister Zhang? I felt disgust and loathing for my own behavior. I resolved to truly repent and change, and be a different sort of person.
I sought the principles on treating others, and how to handle things when I became biased against a brother or sister. I read some of God’s words. “In God’s house, what are the principles for how people are treated? You should treat everyone according to the principles of the truth, and you should treat each of your brothers and sisters fairly. How to treat them fairly? This must be based on God’s words, on which people God saves, and which He casts out, on which He likes, and which He hates; these are the principles of the truth. Brothers and sisters should be treated with loving help, and mutual acceptance and patience. Evildoers and nonbelievers should be identified, separated, and kept away from. Only by doing so are you treating people with principles. Every brother and sister has strengths and shortcomings, and they all have corrupt dispositions, so when people are together, they should lovingly help each other out, they should be accepting and patient and should not nitpick or be too harsh. … You have to look at how God treats ignorant and foolish people, how He treats those with immature stature, how He treats the normal manifestations of humanity’s corrupt disposition, and how He treats those who are malicious. God treats different people in different ways, and He also has various ways of managing different people’s myriad conditions. You must understand these truths. Once you have understood these truths, you will then know how to experience matters and treat people according to principles” (“To Gain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Learn to work in harmony with everyone, and interact with others by the truth, God’s word, and principles, not by emotion or impetuousness. In this way, won’t the truth reign in the church? As long as the truth reigns, won’t things be fair and reasonable? Don’t you think harmonious coordination is beneficial for everyone? Doing things this way is very beneficial for you. First of all, it is positively edifying and meaningful for you as you perform your duties. On top of that, it prevents you from making mistakes, causing disruptions and disturbances, and taking the path of antichrists” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From this, I saw God tells us to treat all types of people in accordance with principles of the truth. If true believers, those who can accept the truth, just reveal a bit of corruption, like being arrogant, too direct, and hurtful for us, we should be tolerant and patient, help them and fellowship out of love, not hyperfocus on their faults. But evildoers or antichrists who are judgmental and lash out, or attack leaders and workers in a fight for status, they have to be exposed, dissected, and expelled. I knew Sister Zhang was a genuine believer with a sense of righteousness, who upheld the church’s work. She was just outspoken with a harsh tone, but with no evil intent. Pointing out my problems was to help me understand my own corrupt disposition so I wouldn’t stray from the right path and disrupt the church’s work. Mentioning my faults in gatherings was so I’d see the shortcomings in my work and follow principles of the truth in my duty—it was protecting the church’s interests. She showed some corruption in doing this, but I should be understanding, tolerant, and fair toward her. In fact, accepting others’ oversight and suggestions really benefits me. I have an arrogant nature. I always looked down on others and used my position to scold them. That was hurtful and constraining for them and I was blind to it. Sister Zhang exposing me and pointing these things out helped me and benefitted the work of God’s house. But I lashed out and took revenge, wanting to ostracize her. I was so vicious, lacking any humanity. This was upsetting for me to see—I felt like I really owed Sister Zhang. After that, I opened up my heart to her. I talked about how I’d refused to accept her pointers and help, lashing out and taking revenge to preserve my face and status, hurting her, and how I was arrogant and malicious. Sister Zhang didn’t bear a grudge against me for all that, but saw her own arrogance, that she spoke without considering others’ feelings, so it didn’t help or edify them. This open fellowship dissolved the barrier between the two of us, and we became closer. I got a real taste of the peace from practicing God’s words, that it’s good for me and others.
Later I wondered, in the future when others exposed me and pointed things out, when my pride was wounded and I had vicious thoughts, what should I do? Then I read some of God’s words. “When most people are pruned and dealt with, it can be because they exposed corrupt dispositions. It can also be because they did something wrong due to ignorance and betrayed the interests of God’s house. It may also be because their attempts to muddle through their duty caused harm to the work of God’s house. The most egregious reason is when people blatantly do as they wish without restraint, violate principles, and disrupt and disturb the work of God’s house. These are the primary reasons people are pruned and dealt with. Regardless of the circumstances that cause someone to be dealt with or pruned, what is the most crucial attitude to have toward it? First, you must accept it, no matter who is dealing with you, for what reason, whether it comes across as harsh, or what the tone and wording, you should accept it. Then, you should recognize what you have done wrong, what corrupt disposition you have exposed, and whether you acted in accordance with the principles of truth. When you are pruned and dealt with, first and foremost, this is the attitude you should have” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Eight)” in Exposing Antichrists). “If you harbor hatred for your brothers and sisters, then you will be inclined to suppress them and take revenge on them; this would be very frightening, and this is the disposition of an evil person. Some people simply have hateful thoughts and ideas—evil ideas, but they would never do anything evil; if they can get along with someone, they will, and if they can’t, they will distance themselves from them, and this will have no effect on their duty or influence their normal interpersonal relationships, because they have God in their hearts and they revere Him. They do not want to offend God, and are afraid to do so. Though these people might harbor certain incorrect thoughts and ideas, they are able to reject or abandon them. They exercise restraint in their actions, and do not even utter a single word that is out of line, and they are unwilling to offend God in this matter. Someone who speaks and acts this way is someone who has principles and who practices the truth. You might be incompatible with someone’s personality, and you may not like them, but when you work together with them, you remain impartial and will not vent your frustrations in doing your duty, sacrifice your duty, or take out your frustrations on the interests of God’s family; you can do things according to principle. What is this a manifestation of? It is the manifestation of having a basic reverence for God. If you have a bit more than that, when you see that someone has some faults or weaknesses, even if they have offended you or have a bias against you, you still have it in you to treat them correctly and lovingly help them. This means there is love in you, that you are a person who possesses humanity, that you are someone who is kind and who can practice the truth, that you are an honest person who possesses the realities of the truth, and that you are someone with reverence for God. If you are still of small stature but you have a will, and are willing to strive for the truth, and to strive to do things according to principle, and you are able to deal with things and act toward others with principle, then this also counts as having a little reverence for God; this is most fundamental. If you cannot even achieve this, and cannot restrain yourself, then you are in great danger and are quite frightening. If you were given a position, you could punish people and give them a hard time; you would then be liable to turn into an antichrist at any moment” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words gave me a path of practice. If I was pruned and dealt with, there had to be some problem with me, or I’d revealed a corrupt disposition, or disrupted the church’s work. Whatever tone someone used or how unpleasant their words were, I should first accept it and self-reflect. Even if my pride suffered in the process, it made me look bad, and I felt resistant, I had to have reverence for God, and patience and tolerance for other people. I couldn’t lash out or take revenge out of corruption. Once I understood all this, I made an effort to practice and enter the truth. In my duty after that, when others pointed out my issues and hurt my pride, I made sure to accept it first, and even if I had some unkind thoughts, I could pray, forsake myself, not be held back by my thoughts, and put the church’s work first. I could also discuss and seek with brothers and sisters how to achieve better results. After a period of doing things this way, I truly saw how incredibly beneficial others’ oversight and criticism is for me! This made me more able to implement principles of the truth, and avoid doing evil and opposing God. Thank God!