An Evaluation That Exposed Me
By Xidan, USA
In mid-May of 2021, Sister Chen, a leader, came to talk to me and asked me if I knew much about Sister Lu, if she was fair toward others, if she seemed judgmental. She looked so stern, I asked her right away what was going on with Sister Lu. She said that Sister Lu was really arrogant and had said judgmental things about several leaders, saying they were false leaders. She also said Sister Lu was a good talker, that in gatherings she could talk about her self-knowledge, but she actually didn’t understand herself at all. She said most brothers and sisters didn’t see her clearly, that they liked her fellowship. I immediately thought that some antichrists who’d been kicked out of the church had done the same thing. Wasn’t that the way antichrists acted? It’s one thing to say a leader here or there is false, but saying several of them are false is arrogant. And I remembered the election for leaders last year, when Sister Lu and another sister were secretly discussing one of the candidates, saying she cared about face and status, did things for show, and didn’t do real work. I couldn’t help but start to feel biased against Sister Lu and I thought she really was judgmental.
Then that leader urged me to write an evaluation of Sister Lu. I also remembered a recent interaction with her when some people called her out for some things, and she was defensive at first, but after the fact she reflected and had some change and entry. She accepted the truth. In conversations with her, I could see she cared about self-reflection and self-knowledge, that she prayed, sought principles of the truth, and foundfor entering in. She’d also written a couple of testimonials and I felt she was a seeker of the truth. But when I thought about how the leader had said she was arrogant, a smooth talker, really misleading, and was casually judging leaders, if I said she was someone who could accept and seek the truth, would the leader say I lacked discernment, that I was a fool? If I left her with a bad impression, I could lose my chance at doing certain duties. With that in mind, I said in my evaluation that Sister Lu struggled to accept the truth, and she tended to justify herself when confronted with problems. I also wrote about some corruption she revealed in daily life. I wrote about some ways she clearly sought the truth, too, but I added a comment saying I wasn’t sure if she was really a truth seeker. I felt a little uneasy after writing the evaluation. My experiences with Sister Lu had never been like what the leader described. She did have a bit of an arrogant disposition, she was sometimes blunt and said things that were hard to take, but she wasn’t bad at heart, and she upheld the interests of God’s house. She was brave enough to speak up when she saw others violating principles of the truth. As an example, when she saw a sister muddling through in her duty and work progress was being impacted, she was able to put their relationship aside and pointed it out without delay, and she also told the leader all about it. Looking at Sister Lu’s usual behavior, she upheld the interests of God’s house and was a right person, but that leader said otherwise. I wondered if the leader was biased. By gathering evaluations on Sister Lu, I wondered if she’d be dismissed from her duty or removed from the church. I felt more uneasy the more I thought about it, so I asked the leader if she’d fellowshiped with Sister Lu about her problems, if she understood them. But the leader evaded the question, saying Sister Lu had been prone to judging leaders before, and she started doing it again. She said one leader was thinking about resigning because of her, so she’d already become a disruption. Hearing this from the leader, I figured she had a better understanding of the problem, that I was lacking discernment and I’d been taken in by Sister Lu’s outward behavior. I didn’t say anything else.
A couple days later, an upper leader looked into the situation and said Sister Lu wasn’t randomly judging leaders, but was correctly exposing false leaders. Sister Chen had been reported by Sister Lu, so she was lashing out at her, condemning her as randomly judging leaders and she unilaterally halted Sister Lu’s duty. The several false leaders Sister Lu reported had all been dismissed, and she got her duty back. My heart was pounding when I heard this—I was shocked. I was also feeling kind of unsettled. I’d gone along with the leader condemning Sister Lu for being arrogant, wantonly judging leaders, not accepting the truth very well. I’d been condemning Sister Lu as well. That was a serious problem. I felt like it was no small matter, that I should really reflect on myself. So I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to understand myself. Later, I read this in God’s words: “To walk the right path of human life, you must at least live with dignity and with a human likeness; you must get others to trust you, to have high regard for you, and you must make them feel that your character and integrity carry weight and that you are as good as your word. … The personalities of those with dignity are not always entirely compatible with other people, but they are honest, and ultimately other people will still appraise them highly, because they are able to practice the truth, they are honest, and dignified, they have integrity, and character, they never take advantage of others, they help people when there are certain issues with them, they get along with others with conscience and with reason, and they never make blithe judgments about others; they speak accurately when appraising others or when discussing others, they say what they know, and when they don’t know something they don’t speak carelessly and they don’t add factually inaccurate embellishments. The things they say can be taken as having credence, and they can be taken into consideration. The words and deeds of those with character have value, and are worthy of people’s trust—this is called dignity. No one thinks highly of people without character, no one pays any attention to their words and deeds, no one takes them seriously and no one trusts them, because they tell too many lies and they don’t say enough that is true; they are insincere and lack integrity when they interact with people and when they do things for others, they have no integrity, and no one likes them. Have you found anyone now who, in your mind, is worthy of your trust? Do you think yourselves worthy of other people’s trust? Are you able to get others to trust you? Say for example someone asks you what you think of someone else, and you thought to yourself: ‘It’s good that they asked me. I absolutely won’t appraise someone or make judgments about someone arbitrarily. I will certainly tell them what I know, but I certainly won’t talk about things I know nothing about. I will tell them the things I am certain about, but as for what I guess or what I imagine, I absolutely will not add factually inaccurate embellishments and I absolutely will not say things like that. If it is my own judgment or I have seen something that appeared a certain way, then I will certainly preface it by saying, ‘Based on my judgment’ or ‘Based on my observations and on what I have discovered,’ so that they can perceive my honesty and my attitude, and so that they are able to trust me.’ Are you capable of this? (No.) Then this proves that you are not honest enough to others, and that you do not have an honest heart or an honest attitude in your conduct” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I realized from God’s words that upright, honest people assess others correctly and objectively, and don’t just shoot their mouths off. They say just what they know, and no more. They can be trusted. But those who aren’t upright have personal motives in their assessments, spouting off whatever they imagine, even distorting facts, turning things upside down to achieve their own aims. That sort of person lies too much, tells too little truth, and can’t be trusted. They really lack dignity and integrity. I rethought my assessment of Sister Lu. When I heard that leader condemning her as arrogant and judgmental, I didn’t have any discernment over whether she was right and I didn’t know if the leaders Sister Lu reported were false leaders. I just blindly went along with the leader. Although I realized that leader’s opinion of Sister Lu didn’t fit with my experience, and I felt unsettled, I was afraid she’d say I lacked discernment and would have a bad impression of me, then I might not get more important duties. That’s why I wrote a negative assessment of Sister Lu. I was going against the facts, incriminating her. That was excluding and oppressing her, which reveals a really malicious disposition. Sister Lu reporting and exposing false leaders without being constrained by their status is a righteous thing. I not only failed to support her, but I condemned her along with the leader, calling a good thing something bad. That really hurt Sister Lu. That was doing evil, acting as Satan’s helper. I was full of regret and self-blame. I felt I’d really wronged Sister Lu and I couldn’t bear to see her. I prayed to God, “God, I’m lacking humanity. I followed a false leader, oppressing and condemning Sister Lu. I’ve committed a transgression before You. God, I was wrong, I want to repent….”
I read a couple more passages of God’s words that helped me understand myself better.says, “Antichrists engage with Christ in the same way they treat people, taking cues from Christ in everything they say and do, listening to His tone, and listening out for the meaning in His words. When they speak, not one word of it is real or sincere; they know only to speak empty words and doctrine. They try to deceive and cheat this person who, in their eyes, is just an ordinary person. They talk as a snake slithers, the course sinuous and indirect. The manner and direction of their words is like a melon vine climbing its way up a pole. When You say someone is of good caliber and could be promoted, they immediately talk about how good they are, and what is manifested and revealed in them; and if You say someone is bad, they are quick to talk about how bad and evil they are, about how they cause disturbances and interruptions in the church. When You wish to learn the truth about something, they have nothing to say; they prevaricate, waiting for You to make a decision, listening out for the meaning in Your words, trying to figure out Your intentions. Everything they say is flattery, brownnosing, and obsequiousness; not a word of truth comes out of their mouths” (“They Despise the Truth, Publicly Flout Principles, and Ignore the Arrangements of God’s House (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). “The humanity of antichrists is dishonest, which means they are not truthful in the least. Everything they say and do is debased with their own intentions and goals, and hidden in it all are their unsaid and unspeakable tricks, methods, purposes, and conspiracies. The way they speak is simply so debased that it is impossible to know which of their words are true and which false, which right and which wrong. Because they are dishonest, their minds are extremely complicated, full of twists and turns and rife with tricks. None of what they say is straightforward. They do not say one is one, two is two, yes is yes, and no is no. Instead, in all matters, they beat around the bush and work things through several times in their minds, thinking of causes and consequences, weighing merits and drawbacks from every angle. Then, they manipulate things with their language such that everything they say sounds quite unwieldy. Honest people never understand what they say and are easily deceived and tricked by them, and whoever speaks with such people finds the experience tiring and laborious. They never say one is one and two is two, they never say what they are thinking, and they never describe things as they are. Everything they say is unfathomable, and the goals and intentions of their actions are very complicated. And if, having spoken, they expose themselves or are found out, they hurriedly invent another story to cover up for themselves. … The principle and method by which these people interact with others is tricking people with lies. They are two-faced and speak to suit their audience; they perform whatever role the situation demands. They are smooth and slick, their mouths are filled with lies, and they are untrustworthy. Whoever is in contact with them for a while grows deceived or disturbed and cannot receive provision, help, or edification” (“Excursus Four: Summarizing the Character of Antichrists and the Essence of Their Disposition (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s words reveal that antichrists always harbor tricks in their words and actions, they speak in a roundabout way, deceiving others, without any credibility. Even in contact with Christ, they’re looking for clues, seeing which way the wind blows, being a sycophant. There’s nothing genuine about them. They’re really slippery and evil. I’d never been in direct contact with Christ, but I did listen for signs, read the room, and guess at what others wanted. I was showing an antichrist’s disposition. A few months before, the leader asked for my assessment of Sister Lu, and that time I didn’t think she had a negative opinion of her, but I thought she probably wanted to promote her. So I said that Sister Lu could seek and accept the truth in the face of problems, that she had a sense of righteousness and could uphold the church’s interests. I basically wrote about her strengths, hardly mentioning her weaknesses. But when that leader criticized Sister Lu and was gathering information on her behavior, I knew I had a different experience of Sister Lu than she did, but I was afraid she’d say I lacked discernment, so I went along with her, saying Sister Lu was arrogant and judgmental and struggled to accept the truth. I was assessing the same person, but I said totally different things about her. I wasn’t being remotely fair or objective. I thought about the instructing us, “Let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no” (Matthew 5:37). But when I was writing about her, wanting to give the leader a good impression, I was guessing at what she wanted, so I was being roundabout in my opinions, not looking at things simply. Everything I said and did was tainted with personal motives without a single genuine, true word. I was really crafty and evil. I saw I was unprincipled in my words and actions, that I didn’t deserve trust or confidence. I’d entirely lost my dignity. I felt more and more disgusted with myself. Before when I’d seen false leaders and antichrists bullying others for their own name and status, I was indignant. I never imagined I’d do the same kind of evil. I twisted my words just for my own aims, to protect my own interests. I misrepresented a good person as a bad one. I portrayed an upright person who protected the interests of God’s house as a judgmental one. I was being incriminating, mistreating a good person. I stood on the side of a false leader, condemning and oppressing Sister Lu. I realized I had maliciousness in my heart.
Once during a gathering, a sister said she’d heard the leader wanted to collect evaluations of Sister Lu, and she felt like Sister Lu wasn’t how that leader portrayed her. She didn’t blindly listen to the leader, but had discernment over what the leader said and did. She also told upper leaders about it and put a stop to that treatment of Sister Lu. God set up the same environment for us. That sister could seek the truth, she had a heart of reverence for God and was forthright. She stood up for Sister Lu and upheld the interests of God’s house, but I bought into the false leader’s lies and tricks, encouraging her unbridled evil, acting like Satan’s minion. I really hated myself when I saw that. Then I wondered why I gave in so easily when that leader was saying that about Sister Lu. That was because I didn’t fully understand truths about what being judgmental is. In fact, what’s key in seeing if someone’s judgmental is knowing what their motives are, if the problems they report are real problems. If one discovers false leaders who go against the principles and don’t do real work, and then they fellowship with others who understand the truth to discern them, and their intention is to uphold the church’s work, that’s not being judgmental, but being upright. Those who are actually judgmental have their own motives, they distort facts, they slander and attack people. They find things to hold over others, or they make big deal, and indiscriminately criticize people who show some corruption. All that’s oppressive and condemning. That’s being judgmental. I didn’t have a pure understanding of what being judgmental is, I mistakenly believed that if we discover a leader’s problems, we have to tell them directly or report it to a higher leader, but if we talk to brothers and sisters in private, that’s being judgmental. I wasn’t looking at the context or what was really behind it. When I heard Sister Lu spoke with other sisters in private, saying some leaders weren’t doing real work, that they were false leaders, I thought she was being judgmental, and so randomly condemned her. I gave no thought to whether what she said reflected reality. But the facts showed that she was reporting on the truth. She dared speak the truth and protect the interests of God’s house. That was upholding righteousness, not being judgmental. It all looks pretty similar on the outside, but when you look at the motives, it couldn’t be more different. Going by principles of the truth, by God’s words, plus by looking into the context of a situation, we’ll be less likely to malign people.
I learned some lessons from this failure of mine. In future evaluations, I have to keep a heart of reverence, not blindly listen to others. I have to follow the facts, to discern the essence of things according to God’s words. If I can’t see things clearly in light of the truth right away, I have to at least be forthright, not butter someone up and distort things. God’s words say, “Follow the way of God: What does the ‘way of God’ refer to? Fearing God and shunning evil. And what is fearing God and shunning evil? When you give your appraisal of someone, for example—this relates to fearing God and shunning evil. When you say exactly what you think, and exactly what you have seen, you are being honest. And above all, the practice of being honest means following the way of God. This is what God teaches people; this is the way of God. What is the way of God? Fearing God and shunning evil. Is being honest part of fearing God and shunning evil? (Yes.) And is it following the way of God? (Yes.) If you are not honest, then what you have seen and what you think is not the same as what comes out of your mouth. Someone asks you, ‘What is your opinion on that person? Do they take responsibility for the work of the house of God?’ and you reply, ‘They’re pretty good, they take more responsibility than I do, their caliber is better than mine, and their humanity is good, too, it is mature.’ But what are you thinking in your heart? What you are actually thinking is that this person does have caliber, but they are unreliable, and somewhat crafty, and very calculating. This is what you’re really thinking in your mind, but when the time comes to speak, it occurs to you that, ‘I can’t tell the truth, I mustn’t offend anyone,’ so you quickly say something else, you choose nice things to say about them, and nothing you say is what you really think, it is all lies and hypocrisy. Does this indicate that you follow the way of God? (No.) You have taken the path of Satan, the way of demons. What is the way of God? (Being honest.) Though you say these words to another person, God is also listening, and watching, and scrutinizing your innermost heart. Are people capable of such scrutiny? At best, people can see that you are not telling the truth. They can see what’s on the surface. Only God can see into the depths of your heart, only God can see what you are thinking, what you are planning, what little schemes you have within your heart, what treacherous ways, what devious thoughts. And seeing that you are not telling the truth, what is God’s opinion of you, what is His evaluation of you? That in this, you have not followed God’s way, because you did not tell the truth” (“The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I realized from God’s words that everything that happens is related to whether we can fear God and shun evil. God sees into our hearts and minds. God can see absolutely everything we think and do. We should keep a heart of reverence in evaluations, not going by emotions or being controlled by our own motives, but seeking truth from facts, saying only what we know, and being honest according to God’s requirements. If we can’t clearly see the nature of someone’s behavior or grasp the principles, we should seek and pray more so we don’t mindlessly judge someone or blindly label them. And I thought of the work of clearing out the church. Having personal motives, failing to go by the facts or objectively evaluating people could mislead others. In serious cases, someone could be kicked out in error, wronging them. Or speaking based on emotion, protecting a nonbeliever, an evildoer could mean someone who should be removed is kept in the church to do further harm. It’s the same principle for duty changes. If an evaluation is wrong, it could prevent good people from being promoted and cultivated, while bad people stay in their position. This not only holds up others’ life entry, but it harms the work of God’s house. I also realized that assessments need to be based on consistent behavior. To fairly evaluate someone, we can’t just fixate on their weaknesses or a moment of revealing corruption, slapping a label on them. After understanding this, I started reminding myself that I had to keep a heart of reverence for God in evaluations, to do it factually, fairly, and objectively.
Later, I had to write another evaluation of Sister Lu because of work needs. I knew God was setting this up to test me, to see if I could practice the truth and enter into the principles, to fairly assess her. So I quieted my heart before God and said a prayer, asking God to look into my heart and help me be honest. I had to call a spade a spade, to not go by emotion or my own motives. I had to say what I knew, and admit I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I felt so much better when I put that into practice. This evaluation of Sister Lu helped me see my own sly, tricky corrupt disposition, that if I speak and act with underlying motives, I’ll do evil, hurting and judging people without realizing it. I also saw that just living by God’s words, doing things the way God teaches us to, being an honest person is the only way to live out a true human likeness, to gain God’s approval.