What Lies Behind Negativity and Slacking Off in Duties
By Dong Xun, China
One day in 2021, the leader had me in charge of a few group gatherings. After some practice, I came to understand some principles and learned to discern some states that people go through. I felt that this duty was helping me learn lots of truths and make progress quickly. But later on the police started tailing the general affairs deacon and she couldn’t have any contact with the others, so the leader arranged for me to handle general affairs. During that time, brothers and sisters were being arrested, one after another. There were lots of things to take care of, like transporting books, finding new host homes to shelter brothers and sisters, and so on. I was out running around practically every day, arranging all these things. After a while, I couldn’t help but feel kind of moody and dissatisfied. I felt like it was just legwork, and by spending all my time running around, I couldn’t gain the truth. Would I be saved if that went on? I grew opposed to general affairs work and didn’t want to do it anymore.
Quite a few times I saw brothers and sisters fellowshiping in a gathering when I dropped things off at hosts’ homes. I felt really wronged and even resented the leader. Why did she put me in charge of general affairs? They were together fellowshiping on the truth, learning so much and growing quickly, but I was just running errands—how could I gain the truth? Without the truth, I wouldn’t have life, and I couldn’t be saved. Wasn’t I losing out? I got more upset the more I thought about it, and had no drive for my duty anymore. One time I found out about a security risk at a sister’s home, and the books there had to be moved to a safe location as soon as possible. I wondered, “Why are there so many general tasks? It takes time and energy, but I can’t gain the truth. Aren’t I doing all this for nothing?” I didn’t want to do it when I thought about it that way. But the situation was urgent, so I had to go help move the books. Unexpectedly, right after we finished there, something came up with another home where books were being stored. While I was moving those books, it was the same process of organizing and packing all over again, and after a full day’s work I was overflowing with complaints. When I dragged my weary self home, the leader and the watering deacon were in the middle of a work discussion. The leader asked me, “Weren’t you just taking a sister to a new host house? Why did it take all day?” I felt really wronged to hear her say that. They were all together fellowshiping on the truth and principles while I was out running around. What could I gain just taking care of general affairs? No matter how much I did, wouldn’t I end up as a service-doer at best? If I could stay inside reading, gathering and fellowshiping with everyone, discussing work, wouldn’t that be great? It would be easier and I could gain the truth, so I would be saved in the future. I got more and more annoyed as I thought about it, and I was left feeling depressed and utterly exhausted. I kept stewing over it: Why was I in charge of general affairs? Did God want me to be a service-doer? If this went on, would I only ever be good for errands? What could I gain?
The next day there were lots of general tasks that needed handling, and I couldn’t hold my complaints back. The leader noticed I wasn’t in a very good state and reminded me to self-reflect and learn from this. That was a bit of a wake-up call for me. During that time managing general affairs, I was doing the work, but felt defiant inside. I was disgruntled, wanting to pick and choose my duty. I even thought God was being unfair to me. I realized that I was in a dangerous state. I couldn’t keep being so resistant. I had to seek the truth and repent to God.
I read something in God’s words. “The principles you must understand and the truths you must put into practice are the same regardless of what duty you are performing. Whether you are asked to be a leader or a worker, or whether you are cooking up dishes as a host, or whether you are asked to take care of some external affairs or do some physical labor, the principles of the truth that should be observed in performing these different duties are the same, in that they must be based in the truth and in God’s words” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). “Many people don’t know clearly what it means to be saved. Some people believe that the more years they have believed in God, the more likely they are to be saved. Some people think that the more spiritual doctrines they understand, the more likely they are to be saved, or some think that leaders and workers will certainly be saved. These are all human notions and imaginings. The key to this is that people must understand what salvation means. To be saved primarily means to be freed from sin, freed from Satan’s influence, and genuinely turn to God and obey God. What must you possess to be free from sin and from Satan’s influence? The truth. If people hope to obtain the truth, they must be equipped with many of God’s words, they must be able to experience and practice them, so that they may understand the truth and enter the reality of the truth. Only then can they be saved. Whether or not one can be saved has nothing to do with how long a person has believed in God, how much knowledge they have, whether they possess gifts or strong points, or how much they suffer. The only thing that has a direct relationship to salvation is whether or not a person can obtain the truth. So today, how many truths have you genuinely understood? And how many of God’s words have become your life? Of all of God’s requirements, into which have you achieved entry? During your years of belief in God, how much entry into the reality of God’s word have you achieved? If you don’t know, or if you have not achieved entry into any reality of God’s word, then frankly, you have no hope of salvation. You cannot possibly be saved” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Treasuring God’s Words Is the Foundation of Belief in God). From reading God’s words I saw whether it’s watering work or general affairs in the church, they’re duties that we should do. God hopes that as we do our duty, we pursue the truth and have some life entry. Though our duties may be different, the principles of the truth that we practice in our duties are the same. We all show corruption, no matter what duty we do. As long as we seek the truth when we show corruption, then repent and change, we can make progress in life. Then we can gain the truth and be saved. But if we don’t learn any lessons when things come up, or if what we do is unrelated to practicing the truth or changing our disposition, then God sees it as just working, and we won’t gain the truth, much less God’s salvation. But I mistakenly believed that I couldn’t gain the truth by handling general affairs, and that no matter how much I did, I would be a service-doer at best. I thought by being a leader or group leader, fellowshiping on the truth and supporting others, reading and fellowshiping on God’s words every day, you’d progress in life quickly, and you could gain the truth and be saved. Wasn’t that ridiculous of me? In fact, someone who really pursues the truth can learn from things they face, no matter what duty they’re doing, and then make real, practical gains afterward. It’s just like in testimonial videos I’ve seen. Some brothers and sisters handle general affairs, but they’re able to work on putting God’s words into practice, seeking the truth and resolving corruption after it’s been revealed. They can change after an experience, and are able to share their own real testimony. And there are some leaders who often read God’s words for others and help solve their problems, but don’t actually practice what they preach, just speak of doctrine, and are eventually exposed and cast out. These things really happen, don’t they? God doesn’t show favoritism because people do different duties. Those who don’t pursue the truth are the ones just rendering service. Someone who pursues the truth will reap a reward from any duty. God is righteous and doesn’t favor anyone. But I was stuck in my misguided ideas, and wanted to pick and choose duties. I was opposed to handling general affairs—I didn’t want to do it. I even began to resent the leader, annoyed that she assigned me to that kind of work. I wasn’t pursuing the truth. I showed corruption but didn’t self-reflect or resolve it. And yet I was negative, whiney, and blaming it all on others. I thought God was just having me do service. I was misunderstanding Him. I was in a very practical environment, but didn’t learn a lesson. I was full of complaints. How unreasonable. If I’d gone on like that, not gaining any truth at all, I would have become an actual service-doer. Some general affairs work had come my way, and I wasn’t able to accept it from God and submit. I couldn’t fix my own problems, much less fix other brothers’ and sisters’ problems. And I wanted to do watering work in that condition! Isn’t that unreasonable? I thought of something God said: “Ultimately, whether people can attain salvation is not dependent on what duty they fulfill, but on whether they can understand and gain the truth, and on whether they can, in the end, entirely submit to God, put themselves at the mercy of His arrangement, give no consideration to their future and destiny, and become a qualified created being. God is righteous and holy, and this is the standard He uses to measure all mankind. This standard is immutable, and you must remember this. Inscribe this standard in your mind, and do not think of finding some other path to pursue some unreal thing. The requirements and standards God has for all who want to attain salvation are forever unchanging. They remain the same no matter who you are” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). By reading God’s words I realized that whether one is handling general affairs or serving as a leader, the key is to pursue the truth as they’re carrying out their duty. People who can be saved are those who can seek the truth in the environment set up by God, and can understand themselves, repent and change. Understanding this brightened my heart.
Later, I started thinking things over again. Why was I so upset and unwilling to work when I was assigned general affairs? I read this in God’s words: “The saddest thing about mankind’s belief in God is that man conducts his own management amidst the work of God and yet pays no heed to God’s management. Man’s biggest failure lies in how, at the same time as seeking to submit to God and worship Him, man is constructing his own ideal destination and plotting how to receive the greatest blessing and the best destination. Even if one understands how pitiable, detestable, and pathetic they are, how many can readily abandon their ideals and hopes? And who are able to halt their own steps and stop from thinking only of themselves? God needs those who will cooperate closely with Him to complete His management. He needs those who will submit to Him by devoting their entire mind and body to the work of His management. He does not need people who hold out their hands to beg from Him every day, much less those who give a little and then wait to be rewarded. God despises those who make a paltry contribution and then rest on their laurels. He hates those cold-blooded people who resent the work of His management and only want to talk about going to heaven and gaining blessings. He has an even greater loathing for those who take advantage of the opportunity presented by the work He does in saving mankind. That’s because these people have never cared about what God wishes to achieve and acquire through the work of His management. They are only concerned with how they can use the opportunity provided by the work of God to gain blessings. They care not about God’s heart, being wholly preoccupied with their own prospects and fate. Those who resent the work of God’s management and lack even the slightest interest in how God saves mankind and His will are only doing what pleases themselves in a way that is detached from the work of God’s management. Their behavior is neither remembered nor approved of by God—much less is it favorably looked upon by God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Appendix 3: Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management). God’s words revealed my own state. I was reluctant to handle general affairs because I didn’t have the right motivation in my duty. I was doing it so I could be blessed, always calculating the gains and losses in my heart. I eagerly paid any price when something would benefit me, but as soon as I saw I’d been assigned to general affairs and I might just be a service-doer, I felt like that would be a big loss. I pulled a long face and grumbled, and though I did some work, I was disgruntled about it. I was living by satanic philosophies, like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Always come out ahead,” and “Never lift a finger without a reward.” “Reward” always came first, and even expending myself for God was conducting a transaction with Him. From start to finish, I wasn’t giving a thought to how to do my duty well. Even in those harsh conditions, my first consideration wasn’t protecting the brothers, sisters and church property, moving them all to safety ASAP, but rather whether doing that work was worth it, if it would be beneficial for my destination. I saw how Satan corrupted me to be so selfish and vile, without any conscience or reason. I was so cold-hearted, just in it for myself. I was a member of the church, so whatever project needed to be done, I should have cooperated to protect the church’s interests. But I was really goal-oriented in everything I did. I felt like I’d really lose out if I wasn’t blessed after working so hard. My head was full of thoughts of how I could be blessed and come out ahead. The facts showed me that the motivation for my years of effort in the faith was just a desire for blessings. That reminded me of what God said: “Even men who show kindness to others are repaid, and yet Christ, who has done such work among you, has received neither man’s love nor his recompense and submission. Is this not something heartrending?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God). I felt even more regretful and terrible in the face of God’s words. I’d eaten and drunk so much of God’s word, enjoyed so much of God’s grace and blessing, but never thought of repaying God’s love by doing my duty well. I was single-mindedly focused on taking. I was insatiably reaching out to God for blessings, wanting Him to give me a good destination. I was petulant when I didn’t get that, and full of complaints when I did the slightest duty. My conscience and reason had grown so numb, and it was really hurtful to God. As I thought about it, I felt more indebted and guilty. I hated myself for being so devoid of conscience and humanity.
I read something else in God’s words later. “In God’s house, whenever something is arranged for you to do, be it a hardship or tiring work, and whether you like it or not, it is your duty. If you can consider it a commission and responsibility that God has given you, you are then relevant to His work of saving man. And if what you do and the duty you perform are relevant to God’s work of saving man, and you can earnestly and sincerely accept the commission God has given you, how will He regard you? He will regard you as a member of His family. Is that a blessing or a curse? (A blessing.) It is a great blessing” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). This passage was really moving for me. As long as someone is willing to do a duty, God will give them a chance. All jobs in the church are meaningful, even those that seem unimpressive. They should all be accepted and taken as your own duty and responsibility. If you try to pursue the truth in your duty, and do it properly in line with what God requires, you’ll have a chance at salvation. If you treat your duty like a transaction, like capital to exchange for blessings or a ticket into God’s kingdom, no matter how hard you work, you’ll never enter into the truth, because your views toward pursuit and the path you’re on are wrong. Having an opportunity to do a duty, and to render service toward God’s work, is God’s elevation and an enormous blessing. So how could I be picky about my duty? I should’ve accepted it and submitted. That’s what I, as a created being, should have done. But I was blind to the blessings I was surrounded by, and wasn’t treasuring my chance to pursue the truth through this duty. I was treating my duty like hard work, as a bargaining chip in a transaction with God. I also misunderstood and blamed God. I was so blind. Realizing this, I no longer felt opposed to handling general affairs. I felt genuinely content to accept it and do that duty well.
There was another passage I read. “In the doing of their duties, people use the pursuit of the truth to experience the work of God, gradually understand and accept the truth, and then practice the truth. They then reach a state whereby they cast off their corrupt disposition, get rid of the bonds and control of the corrupt disposition of Satan, and so they become someone who has the reality of the truth and someone with a normal humanity. Only when you have normal humanity will your performance of your duty and your actions be edifying to people and satisfactory to God. And only when people are praised by God for their performance of their duty can they be an acceptable creature of God. So, regarding the performing of your duty, although that which you now expend and bring out in devotion are the various skills and learning and knowledge that you have acquired, it is precisely these that provide the channel through which you can understand the truth while performing your duty, and know what it is to perform one’s duty, what it is to come before God, what it is to wholeheartedly expend for God. Through this channel, you will know how to throw off your corrupt disposition, and how to relinquish yourselves, not to be arrogant and self-righteous, and to obey the truth and obey God. Only thus can you achieve salvation” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Gain the Truth, One Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Nearby). I learned from God’s words that doing a duty is the path to changing one’s disposition and gaining the truth. It has no relation to being blessed or gaining benefits. Whatever duty you do, pursuing the truth and focusing on dispositional change is the only right path. The reason I wasn’t learning anything from general affairs work was because I wasn’t pursuing the truth or working on life entry. It had nothing to do with what duty I did. I thought general affairs work was just toil. When I showed corruption, I didn’t focus on seeking the truth and resolving it. I was apathetic and slacked off in my duty, and though I did the job, I didn’t gain anything, and my disposition never changed at all. There’s no way I would ever be saved if that had gone on. Realizing that gave me a path of practice. Whether it was handling general affairs or watering and supporting brothers and sisters, I couldn’t keep treating it like a task. I had to focus on praying and seeking principles of the truth, and when I showed corruption, I had to self-reflect and seek the truth to resolve it. After practicing this way for a while, before I knew it, I understood myself better and gained a more practical understanding of the truth.
I remember there was a sister who always used to ask me to join in anything she was planning. She even asked me to help with simple things that she could do on her own. When she asked me the next time, I corrected my mindset, and wasn’t resistant because of how much work I had to do. As we were working together, I noticed she didn’t shoulder a real burden in her duty, and was greedy for comforts. I wanted to point that out to her, but I was afraid that she might feel like I was hard to get along with, so I was considerate of her flesh. I figured I could pick up the slack—I didn’t mention it or fellowship with her. Later, after reading God’s words and reflecting on myself, I realized I was being a people-pleaser. It looked like I was being considerate and understanding, but in fact, I had my own motive, and that was to give her a good impression of me. That wouldn’t benefit her life and would cause her to always rely on me. At that point I opened up to her and told her about my corruption, and also mentioned her own issues. She made some changes after that, becoming more active in her duty and less dependent on me. These experiences taught me that you can learn the truth and enter into it no matter what kind of duty you do. God really doesn’t show anyone favoritism. I also realized that no matter what job I do or what situation I face, being able to seek the truth and put it into practice is what matters.