Performing a Duty Is Impossible Without Honesty

July 21, 2022

By Mu Yu, USA

I’m in charge of watering newcomers in the church. Some new believers joined not too long ago, and I saw that a few of them didn’t talk much in gatherings and weren’t coming regularly. They only came when they felt like it. When I reached out for individual fellowship, they liked talking about how to make money, how to build up a family fortune, but as soon as faith came up, they clammed up and found excuses to get off the phone. I felt like they weren’t interested in the truth and didn’t seem like true believers. But I wasn’t entirely sure since they were new to the faith, so I kept on supporting them. They were still that way after some time passed and slowly stopped attending gatherings. Only then did I tell the leader about their situations. She asked me, “How have you been watering them? With others’ watering before, they were attending gatherings normally. Why did this come up once it was in your hands? Have you really fulfilled your responsibilities and fellowshiped clearly? If we don’t fulfill our responsibilities because we’re lax in our duty, and that means newcomers aren’t gathering properly, that’s completely on our shoulders.” I knew she was saying that out of responsibility for the work, but I kept thinking to myself that everyone can change, and gathering properly before didn’t mean they would keep doing that. Besides, when I first met them they weren’t gathering regularly, so it wasn’t a sudden change. I just wanted to water them a little while and see, which is why I didn’t tell her right away. If she held me responsible for that, I’d bear the consequences. I might be pruned and dealt with, or even dismissed. If I’d known that before, I would have talked to her about it earlier so I wouldn’t be held fully responsible for it in the end. After the leader looked into it, she didn’t hold me responsible. But in my interactions with newcomers after that, I couldn’t help but stay on my guard. If I saw someone had a problem or wasn’t coming to gatherings, I’d rush to tell the leader. Sometimes the leader asked me what I meant, if I intended to stop watering them. I’d say, “No. You’re the leader, so I wanted you to know what’s going on with them.” She wouldn’t say anything further after I said that. Sometimes after I told her about it, she’d ask me to keep watering them for a bit, and if they really didn’t want to gather, they couldn’t be forced, and we had to give up on them. I’d totally agree, and think, the leader knew about the new believer’s situation, so I just needed to offer support. Bringing them back through support was better, and if I couldn’t do that, if the newcomer didn’t want to gather anymore, the leader wouldn’t think it’s too sudden and say I was irresponsible in my duty. With that in mind, I stopped being so attentive in my duty. Every day, I just watered newcomers by rote. When I called them, if they answered I’d fellowship for a bit, but give up if they didn’t. I thought there was nothing I could do if they didn’t answer, and I wasn’t thinking about how to work on resolving their issues. In a work meeting later on, the leader said that when asking about watering work from then on, she wouldn’t just listen to what the waterers said about newcomers’ situations, but would find out what aspects of the truth the waterer fellowshiped with them and specifically how they supported them, then use that to consider whether the waterer was doing real work. If they didn’t put their heart into fellowshiping with new believers, and caused new believers to not regularly attend gatherings or drop out, that’s a waterer’s responsibility. When she said that, I realized that when I fellowshiped with newcomers, I didn’t make notes of what words of God I read or what truths I fellowshiped on. If a new believer stopped attending gatherings, I wouldn’t have any proof. I wondered if the leader would think I didn’t do practical work, that I was irresponsible in watering, then prune and deal with me. So I started paying attention to the messages and words of God I sent to new believers and kept a record of what our fellowship was about. Sometimes I’d send a message that they didn’t respond to, but I didn’t think much of it. I figured that I’d sent them all the words of God I should have and fellowshiped on what I needed to. If a new believer stopped going to gatherings, the leader could see notes of what I’d done and probably wouldn’t call me irresponsible.

After some time, the leader noticed that a few of my new believers still didn’t want to gather, and asked how I’d watered them. I readily whipped out all my notes to show her, thinking, luckily I’d prepared ahead of time and kept these records. Otherwise I’d have nothing concrete, and who knows how she’d dress me down. Just as I was feeling quite pleased, the leader said, “I can’t see any problems from these notes, but several in a row stopped attending, so there must be an issue with your work. Right now I can’t see what that may be, but in our interactions lately you’re constantly talking about new believers’ problems. That’s not really normal. You need to do some reflection on where the problem lies. If you’ve been careless and haven’t been watering them well, causing these new believers to leave the faith, that’s being irresponsible, not doing your duty well.” What she said was a real blow to me, and I froze up. I’d thought she wouldn’t scold me, but she said there was a problem in my work and told me to self-reflect. I was taken aback. I wondered if this was God alerting me through the leader. That was an upsetting thought for me, and I was afraid that if my issues caused newcomers to drop out, that was doing evil. So I prayed to God, “God, the leader unexpectedly saying this to me today had Your permission, so there must be a lesson for me to learn. I don’t want to do harm to these new believers because of my issues, but I feel so numb, and I don’t know where my problem lies. Please guide me to know myself and make a change.”

Over the next few days, I prayed to God about this quite a bit. Then one day, I read a testimonial essay with a passage of God’s words that stirred me. “You should examine yourself carefully to see whether you are a correct person. Are your goals and intentions made with Me in mind? Are all your words and actions said and done in My presence? I examine all of your thoughts and ideas. Do you not feel guilty? You put on a false front for others to see and you calmly assume an air of self-righteousness; you do this to shield yourself. You do this to conceal your evil, and you even think up ways to push that evil onto someone else. What treachery dwells in your heart!” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words show that in order to protect their own interests and cover up their evildoing, people do things like lie and put on an act to shift the responsibility onto others so they can protect themselves. This is an expression of craftiness. I felt like this exposed precisely my state, and I had to start reflecting on myself. Why was I always telling the leader about new believers’ problems? Whenever I saw someone had issues or wasn’t coming to gatherings, I rushed to tell the leader. It looked like I was just sharing the facts, but in fact I had my own personal motives. I was afraid that if someone stopped attending, the leader would hold me responsible or even dismiss me, so I quickly tried to act preemptively, to first share their problems to give the leader the false impression that the new believer was no good, and I wasn’t responsible. If I couldn’t adequately support them and they stopped attending, that was their problem. That way my hands would be totally clean. If later on they wanted to go to gatherings again, people would think I deserved credit. Seeing this through my self-reflection was a shock to me. I’d never thought that I had such vile, despicable motives hidden behind my words. I was so cunning!

I wondered how I could do something so dishonest and deceitful without even realizing it. While reflecting on it, I read words from God exposing people’s corrupt dispositions and finally understood myself a little. God’s words say, “The evil of antichrists has one major characteristic—I will share with you the secret of how to discern it. The secret is this—firstly, whether in their speech or their actions, they are unfathomable to you; you cannot read them. When they are speaking to you, their eyes are always swiveling to and fro, and you cannot tell what sort of scheme they are hatching. Sometimes they make you feel that they are ‘loyal’ or especially ‘sincere,’ but this is not the case, you can never see through them. You have a particular feeling in your heart, a sense that there is a deep subtlety within their thoughts, an unfathomable depth. They seem strange and mysterious” (“Item Seven: They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). “Antichrists are devious in their behavior. How are they devious? They behave always in a way that depends on trickery, and their words give nothing away, so it is hard for people to fathom their intentions and goals. That is devious. They do not come easily to conclusions in anything they do; they make it so that their subordinates and listeners can sense their intent, and those people, having understood the antichrist, act according to their agenda and motivations and carry out their orders. If a task is completed, the antichrist is happy. If it is not, no one can find anything to hold against them, or fathom the motivations, intentions, or goals behind what they do. The deviousness of what they do lies in hidden plots and secret goals, all meant to deceive, toy with, and control everyone else. This is the essence of devious behavior. Deviousness is not simple lying; instead, it is something unfathomable to ordinary people. It is not in the same league as common lying or wicked deeds. If you have done something you do not want anyone to know about, or tell a lie, does that count as deviousness? (No.) That is just deceitfulness, and it does not rise to the level of deviousness. What makes deviousness deeper than deceitfulness? (People cannot see through it.) It is difficult for people to see through it. That is one part of it. What else? (People do not have anything to hold against a devious person.) That is right. The point is that it is hard for people to find anything to hold against them. Even if some people know that person has committed evil deeds, they cannot determine whether they are a good person or a bad person, or an antichrist. People cannot see through them, but think they are good, and can be deceived by them. That is deviousness. People are prone in general to telling lies and hatching little plots. That is just deceitfulness. But antichrists are more sinister than common deceitful people. They are like the kings of devils; no one can fathom what they do, and they can do many evil things in the name of justice, and people sing their praises, while in fact, they trap and harm people. This is called deviousness” (“Item Six: They Behave in Strange and Mysterious Ways, They Are Arbitrary and Dictatorial, They Never Fellowship With Others, and They Force Others to Obey Them” in Exposing Antichrists). I saw from God’s words that antichrists have an evil disposition and do things in devious ways. It’s different from displaying the corruption of craftiness. Being crafty means clearly telling lies and deceiving, and it’s easy to see. Doing things deviously means that a person deeply hides his motives, goals and intentions and creates a false impression for others so they can’t see any problem with what he says and does. Even if they do feel there’s a problem, they can’t find anything against him or figure it out. That’s how he misleads others and achieves his ulterior motives. I compared myself to what God’s words say. It looked like I quickly and proactively spoke with the leader about new believers, giving her the false impression I took on a burden in my duty and was happy to accept her supervision. But in fact, I was using that as a preventative measure with the leader so she’d have a negative impression of the new believers who weren’t attending regularly. That way if someday they stopped coming, she wouldn’t hold me responsible. Also, when the leader asked for details on my work, on the surface it looked like there were no issues with the fellowship I gave them, that I was actively setting up times for fellowship and sending them words of God so the leader would think I was diligent and loving toward them. The reality was that I wasn’t sincere at all in my fellowship with new believers. Because the leader would review work records and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to account for that if she asked me how I supported them, I had no choice but to go through the motions so I could deliver a report to her. Thinking back on all of it, to protect the leader’s image of me, to not be held responsible, to maintain my status and future, I’d actually played all sorts of tricks. I concealed my intentions when I spoke and was careful to do things just so. Clearly, my heart wasn’t in my duty, causing some newcomers to stop gathering regularly. The leader also felt like there were problems in my duty, but didn’t know what they were and she couldn’t find any evidence to hold me responsible. I was so misleading. I never made the connection between my behavior and doing things in a devious way before this. I always felt people who are shrewd, calculating, and devious are mostly older people with lots of experience. But I’m young without much experience or complicated thinking. Calling my behavior devious seemed off the mark. But the facts revealed to me that I had an evil antichrist disposition, and being devious has nothing to do with age. It comes entirely from a satanic nature. Then, something else suddenly came to mind. There was a new believer who asked a lot of questions and spoke very frankly. If she didn’t understand my fellowship, she’d directly counter me in gatherings, which was embarrassing for me. I didn’t want to have gatherings with her anymore so I could protect my reputation, but didn’t dare say that outright, afraid the leader would deal with me. I wanted to find a way to hand her off to another waterer. Once, that new believer casually mentioned that her current group was a lot smaller than her previous one. I used that as an excuse to tell the leader that she didn’t like how small our gathering was, that she liked larger groups and asked the leader to put her into a different one. The leader arranged for her to attend a different group right away. This is how I successfully covered up my shameful, despicable motivation and pushed this new believer out of my group. The leader even mistakenly thought I had a burden in my duty and was thinking of the newcomer. I was so evil and deceptive!

Later I ate and drank more of God’s words about my state. “I’m telling you: What God despises most and wants to abandon is this kind of intransigent person, who is well aware of their errors but does not repent. They never admit their mistakes and are always looking for excuses and justifications to absolve and defend themselves, and want to use other ways to become more evasive and hoodwink people. They want to make error after error, and do not think about repentance or admitting their mistakes. This kind of person is quite troublesome, and it’s hard for them to be saved, just the kind of thing that God wants to abandon” (“In Believing in God, What Is Most Important Is to Practice and Experience His Words” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Thinking this over, I realized that no matter what happens, what’s key is to accept the truth. If someone makes a mistake in their duty that they don’t own up to, and they won’t accept being pruned and dealt with, but they make excuses and find reasons to argue their case and even play games to cover up their mistakes, that means they don’t remotely accept the truth. They’re revolting to God and He will abandon and eliminate them. I was able to do work as important as watering new believers because God hoped I could support and help them with love and patience. He wanted me to fellowship clearly on truths of visions and help them quickly establish a foundation on the true way. I knew well that some new believers weren’t regularly attending gatherings and I had a responsibility I couldn’t deny. But when the leader asked me questions and dealt with me, I not only didn’t understand this from God or accept the leader’s criticism, thinking of a way to support new believers right away, but I started playing games, using more slippery and devious tactics to conceal the fact that I wasn’t doing my duty well. I kept the leader in the dark so she couldn’t find anything against me. I was self-satisfied when I got away with my tricks, secretly reveling in my cleverness. I didn’t realize God could clearly see my nefarious means and petty tricks—I couldn’t hide them. The problems in my duty were bound to come to light. If the leader hadn’t warned me, I wouldn’t have known to self-reflect, much less had a desire to repent. I was really numb. I didn’t accept the truth or summarize and change the mistakes in my work. Instead, I just thought about how to pull the wool over the leader’s eyes to protect my face, status, and future. I was slippery and devious to cover up the reality that I wasn’t doing my duty well. I didn’t put my heart into watering and helping new believers with their difficulties. Thus, some newcomers’ problems weren’t resolved for a long time. Even now, some of them aren’t attending gatherings regularly. What really scared me was that the newcomer I pushed into a different group didn’t want to gather anymore because of the sudden change in her waterer. Others patiently fellowshiped with her for a long time before she agreed to come back to gatherings. It was really upsetting for me to think about what I’d done. Others did their utmost to convert people, but I was so lax in my approach. I was doing evil. If God hadn’t set up an environment to expose me, to awaken my numb heart, I wouldn’t have realized that I was on the brink of danger. I didn’t want to keep living according to my evil antichrist disposition, but I wanted to step off that evil path and repent to God.

Just when I gained some awareness, the leader asked me how I’d been doing recently. I told her about my self-reflections and realizations. She sent me some of God’s words. God’s words say, “Practicing honesty covers many aspects. In other words, the standard for being honest is not merely achieved through one regard; you must be up to standard in many regards before you can be honest. Some people always think that they need only manage not to lie in order to be honest. Is this view correct? Does being honest merely involve not lying? No—it also relates to several other aspects. Firstly, no matter what you are faced with, be it something you have seen with your own eyes or something someone else has told you, be it interacting with people or sorting out a problem, be it the duty you ought to be performing or something that God has entrusted to you, you must always approach it with an honest heart. How should one practice approaching things with an honest heart? Say what you think and speak honestly; do not speak empty words, official jargon, or pleasant-sounding words, do not say flattering or hypocritical false things, but speak the words that are in your heart. This is being someone honest. Expressing the true thoughts and views that are in your heart—this is what honest people are supposed to do. If you never say what you think, and the words fester in your heart, and what you say is always at odds with what you think, that is not what an honest person does. For example, you do not perform your duty well, and people ask what is going on, and you say, ‘I want to do my duty well, but for various reasons, I have not,’ when in fact, you know in your heart you were not diligent, yet you did not tell the truth. You find all kinds of reasons, justifications, and excuses to cover up the facts and to avoid responsibility. Is that what an honest person does? (No.) You fool people and muddle through by saying these things. But the essence of what is inside you, of the intention within you, is a corrupt disposition. If you cannot bring it out into the open and dissect it, it cannot be purified—and that is no small matter! You must speak truthfully: ‘I’ve been procrastinating a bit in doing my duty. I have been careless, perfunctory, and inattentive. When I’m in a good mood, I can give a little effort. When I’m in a bad mood, I slack off and don’t want to put in the effort, and covet the comforts of the flesh. So, my attempts to do my duty are ineffective. The situation has been turning around these past few days, and I’m trying to give my all, improve my efficiency, and perform my duty well.’ This is speaking from the heart. The other way of speaking was not from the heart. Due to your fear of being dealt with, of people discovering your problems, and of people holding you accountable, you find all kinds of reasons, justifications, and excuses to cover up the facts, first getting other people to stop talking about the situation, then shifting responsibility, in order to avoid being dealt with. This is the source of your lies. No matter how much liars talk, some of what they say is sure to be truth and factual. But some key things they say will contain a bit of falsity and a bit of their motive. So, it is very important to discern and differentiate what is true and what is false. This is not easy to do, however. Some of what they say will be tainted and embellished, some of what they say will accord with the facts, and some of what they say will contradict the facts; with fact and fiction thus muddled, it is hard to distinguish the true from the false. This is the most deceitful kind of person, and the most difficult to identify. If they cannot accept the truth or practice honesty, they will definitely be cast out. Which is the path that people should choose, then? Which one is the way to practice honesty? You should learn to speak the truth and be able to fellowship openly about your real state and problems. That is how honest people practice, and such practice is correct” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading this passage was really moving for me. God knows us so well. He knows we’ll all have problems and make mistakes in our duties. It’s inevitable. But the key is what type of attitude someone has when problems come up, if they are down-to-earth and honestly admit their error, then correct it, or if they argue their case, cover up the problem, and are deceitful. Before, I lived by my satanic disposition, I was cunning and duplicitous. I was on the wrong path and I couldn’t keep on that way. I wanted to be an honest person and accept God’s scrutiny. No matter what mistakes or problems came up in my duty, or if the leader came to inquire about my work, I had to approach it with integrity, with an honest heart, seek truth from facts, and say whatever was in my heart. I should call a spade a spade, and admit if I hadn’t done something, not say anything false or defend myself. Also, on top of speaking honestly, I wanted to practice reflecting on the motives behind my words and actions and change them right away if they weren’t right, not protect my own interests and play games to mislead people. I quietly resolved that I’d take that path from then on.

One day, I noticed that a new believer had missed several consecutive gatherings. I called him a few times and he didn’t pick up, and he wasn’t responding to messages. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t help but worry he would stop coming to gatherings and wondered if I should mention it to the leader so if he stopped attending someday, the leader wouldn’t hold me responsible. When I had that thought, I realized it was my old problem of playing tricks cropping up again. Then I remembered some words from God: “You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will live without shackles or pain, and you will live entirely in the light” (“Only Those Who Truly Submit to God Have Hearts of Fear for Him” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). It’s true. God sees into our hearts. I may be able to fool people with my devious tactics, but God sees everything as clear as day, and He exposes everything in the end. I was doing my duty before God, not working for any individual. I didn’t need to play games and cover myself. Like before, when I did my best to support some newcomers, but no matter what, they didn’t attend gatherings and weren’t interested in faith and the truth. When the leader learned about the real situation, she determined they weren’t true believers so she didn’t hold me responsible. I could see that the church has principles in how it treats people, and is fair to everyone. I didn’t need to play games to shift my responsibility or scheme for an out. I’d lived by my satanic disposition before and didn’t do my duty well. This time I couldn’t be sloppy. I had to have my heart in the right place and fulfill my responsibilities. I quietly prayed to God, ready to change and do whatever I could to help and support newcomers. If I did my best to help and support them and fellowshiped on all the truths I should, but a newcomer still didn’t want to gather, I could face that squarely and tell the leader honestly. Once I changed my attitude and contacted that new believer again, surprisingly, he responded quickly, saying he’d been busy with work lately and was really tired, which was why he wasn’t coming. I used God’s words to share fellowship and from that he understood God’s will, found a path of practice, and started attending regularly again. Since then, when there were new believers who didn’t always come to gatherings, I gave it my all to offer support and help, and fellowship on God’s words. I supported them with sincerity. Lots of new believers started going to gatherings again after I did that. Doing this, I felt so at peace and at ease. Thank God!

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