Dissecting the Spreading of Negativity
By Yucheng, USA
One day last December, after a meeting, my leader mentioned Chen Lin was dismissed from watering duty for often complaining about being tired, slacking off, unwillingness to pay a price, producing no results in her duty. She also had bad humanity, spread negativity among brothers and sisters, and was disruptive in her duty. For these reasons, she was dismissed. My leader gave an example of what she meant by this. She said Chen Lin did her duty for several months without results and had little progress. She didn’t solve newcomers’ problems, which trapped them in negativity and weakness. So, based on her performance of her duties, the church decided to dismiss her. At the meeting, Chen Lin said, “I’ve been passionate about my duty, and this is the thanks I get? Why aren’t I being allowed to perform my duty? Is there something wrong with me? Am I somehow unfit to perform this duty? I’ll never perform this duty again. It’s too embarrassing. I don’t know why God is doing this, but I can’t feel God’s love.” She also said, “Why do some people with watering duty who do poorly still get a chance to practice, but I can’t get a chance to do so?” Our leader fellowshiped with her and analyzed how she spread negativity with her words, but Chen Lin still couldn’t accept it. She said she was only talking about her corruption, and hadn’t spread negativity. She felt she was being condemned. She said, aggrieved, “If talking about my state at meetings is spreading negativity, I have no idea how I’m supposed to fellowship.” After I heard this, I was very confused. In what context was Chen Lin saying these words? Was she talking about the corruption she exposed at meetings, or was she deliberately spreading negativity with her own goal or intention? Based on these words alone, was it accurate to say she was spreading negativity? At the time, I was very confused. I couldn’t help wondering if our leader had misunderstood and misjudged Chen Lin. When things happen, people may not know God’s will, and misunderstand or complain. Isn’t it normal to fellowship about their state at meetings? Was this really spreading negativity? At the time, I really wanted to ask my leaders to learn more about the details and why they deemed her to be that way, but I was hesitant. I thought, “I’ve only met Chen Lin a few times, and I don’t know her very well. Many people perform their duties with her. Don’t they know her better than me? If Chen Lin is really dismissed by mistake, they would say something, so I don’t need to worry about it.”
The next day, I was still thinking about it, and couldn’t calm myself down. I kept wondering, “Was Chen Lin’s behavior really enough to get her dismissed? Was it really accurate to say she was spreading negativity? Dismissing a good person is a wicked deed. This confuses me, so if I don’t ask and seek, does this mean I’m blindly going along with it? Is it irresponsible to treat the matter like this?” This was when I remembered a passage of God’s word. “No path to achieving salvation is more real or practical than faith in God, but if you cannot gain the truth, there is still emptiness. Those who always talk about empty spiritual theories, who always parrot slogans and say high-sounding things, who never focus on practicing the truth—these people reap nothing. Who are the people who reap something? Those who perform their duty sincerely and are willing to practice the truth, who treat what God has entrusted to them as their mission, who gladly spend their whole lives expending for God and do not scheme for their own sakes, whose feet are firmly on the ground and who obey God’s orchestrations. They are able to grasp the principles of the truth while performing their duty and try hard to do everything properly, allowing them to achieve the effect of testimony to God, and satisfy God’s will. When they encounter difficulties while performing their duty, they pray to God and try to fathom God’s will, they are able to obey the orchestrations and arrangements that come from God, and in all they do, they seek and practice the truth. They do not parrot slogans or say high-sounding things, but focus only on doing things with their feet firmly on the ground, and on meticulously following principle; they are able to learn lessons from everything. They try hard in everything they do, and try hard to understand everything, and in many matters they are able to practice the truth, after which they acquire knowledge and understanding. And when they have incorrect thoughts, they pray to God and seek the truth to resolve them; no matter what truths they understand, they have an appreciation of them in their hearts, and are able to speak of their experiences and testimony. Such people ultimately gain the truth” (“Entry Into Life Is Most Important to Faith in God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word made me realize that someone conscientious can seek truth and learn lessons from things around them. They benefit from their experiences. All I see and hear every day are environments arranged by God, and they involve lessons I should learn. But in the past, during fellowships on the behavior of those dismissed or cleared out, I merely listened and forgot about it. I never took it seriously, and I gained nothing from it. If this time I treated it as having nothing to do with me, and let myself remain confused, what would I gain after this experience? After thinking about it, I felt that this time I had to seek the truth and ask. Even if her dismissal was correct, I could learn the principles it was based on. If I could understand the truth and learn discernment, it wouldn’t be in vain.
That night, I asked Sister Zhao how she felt about Chen Lin’s dismissal, hoping to understand her evaluation of Chen Lin. She said, “Chen Lin does whatever the church arranges and gets along with everyone normally. Chen Lin talked about the corruption she exposed at the meeting. She had misunderstandings and complaints about God, which is why she said those things. I don’t think she was spreading negativity.” After that, I asked another sister, and she had the same view as Sister Zhao. She said her regular contact with Chen Lin felt fine, and Chen Lin’s dismissal surprised her. I thought both sisters were familiar with her, and their evaluations of Chen Lin were that she was fine. They said she got along with people normally, did whatever the church arranged, and didn’t seem to have bad humanity. So why did the leader say she had bad humanity and spread negativity? Beyond that, Chen Lin had reasons for saying those words. If you’re dismissed and can’t understand God’s will, isn’t it normal to have some misunderstandings and complaints? If we open up and fellowship on this at meetings, how is this spreading negativity? It didn’t make any sense to me at all. So I went before God to pray and seek.
One day, I read a passage of God’s word: “First let us look at how the ‘negativity’ found in the exuding of negativity should be understood and identified, at how to distinguish what people say as being negative, what remarks and manifestations in them exude negativity. Above all, the negativity that people exude is not positive, it is something adverse that contradicts the truth, it is something produced from their corrupt disposition. Having a corrupt disposition leads to many difficulties in practicing the truth and obeying God—and because of these difficulties, negative thoughts and other negative things are revealed in people, which are produced in the context of them trying to practice the truth; these are thoughts that affect and hinder people when they try to practice the truth, they are not the pure understanding of, much less the true experiencing of God’s words. People who exude negativity are not sharing their experiences and knowledge of the truth and God’s words, they are not sharing positive things. What are they sharing? Simply stated, it is adverse things, words that trick people, it is thoughts and fallacies that stop people from practicing the truth, and harm them. This is the most basic understanding of ‘negativity.’ So just what part is negative when people exude negativity? What things are negative, and liable to have an adverse impact on people, and to cause disruption and harm? What does negativity include? If people have a pure understanding of God’s words, will the words they fellowship contain any negativity? If people are truly obedient to the circumstances laid forth for them by God, if they have an attitude of obedience, then will their knowledge of these circumstances contain any negativity? (No.) So when they share what they have experienced and know with everyone, will it contain any negativity? (No.) With regard to anything that happens in the church or around them, if people are able to accept from God, and have the correct approach, and can have an attitude of searching and obedience, then will their knowledge, understanding, and experiencing of what happens contain any negativity? (No.) So viewed in these regards, just what is negativity? How can it be understood? Does negativity contain people’s defiance, dissatisfaction, grievances, and resentment? There are also very serious things, such as opposition, resistance, and even arguing back. Remarks that contain these elements can be defined as exuding negativity. So judging from these manifestations, when a person exudes negativity, does this involve any obedience? Does it involve searching and differentiating? Is there willingness to turn their back on the flesh and actively cooperate? No—there is nothing but resistance, rebelliousness, and opposition. If people’s hearts are filled with these things, they are not people who love the truth, and they would never seek the truth or search for God’s will; they are all people who do not accept the truth and cannot be saved” (“Identifying False Leaders (17)” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I understood from God’s word that when people can’t accept God’s work or the environments and matters He arranges, lack an attitude of seeking or obedience, and become dissatisfied, complain, and even resist or protest against Him, these are all negative states. If people live within these negative states and do not seek the truth or reflect on and analyze their mistaken views, but instead simply vent their dissatisfaction with the work of God’s house with others, and spread misunderstandings and complaints about Him, speaking like this is what it means to spread negativity. As I pondered God’s words, I realized that Chen Lin hadn’t been effective in her duty. Her dismissal was something any reasonable person would see as God’s righteousness. They would quietly reflect on themselves, try to learn lessons, and think about why they were ineffective, what the problem was, and how they had failed. Someone who genuinely pursues the truth would reflect on these questions carefully. Even if they didn’t understand God’s will, or had notions and misunderstandings, they at least wouldn’t spread them, and would pray to God and seek the truth to resolve their negative state. As for Chen Lin’s case, she didn’t reflect to try to understand herself or seek God’s will, nor did she seek which lessons she could learn. Instead, she resisted, disobeyed, and complained about the church’s arrangements, and spread her notions and misunderstandings about God at meetings. In her fellowship, she did not recognize or analyze her own mistaken views, nor did she find a path of practice and entry. She even lacked an attitude of seeking and reflection. What the brothers and sisters heard were her notions and misunderstandings about God, her grievances and dissatisfaction, her claims that God and the arrangements of God’s house were unfair, her questioning why others and not her were given opportunities, her complaints that God shouldn’t treat her like this, and even statements like, “I’ll never perform this duty again. It’s too embarrassing. I can’t feel God’s love.” On the surface, she seemed to be opening up about her corrupt state, but behind her words, she was angrily arguing with and crying out against God. She thought she had poor results because God refused to grant her grace and blessings, and that she was replaced because God was unfair and had no love. She viewed her own missteps and being pruned and dealt with as embarrassing, and thought her duty was stifling and suffocating her. She preferred not to do the duty rather than suffer the humiliation. From the essence of her words, this was by no means simply opening herself up and sharing her corrupt state. It was nothing less than spreading negativity and notions. It was arguing with God, clamoring, and resisting God. Later, I learned that after Chen Lin said this, some brothers and sisters sympathized with her and took her side. Others, who had just been dismissed from their duties, after hearing her words accepted her views and judged God’s house as unfair, saying, “Other people who do poorly at watering work still have the chance to practice, so why doesn’t God’s house give us a chance?” They questioned the church’s arrangements and couldn’t seek truth or learn lessons. I saw that Chen Lin’s words confused some people who lacked discernment, and this disrupted and disturbed church life. Later I found out Chen Lin’s claim that some ineffective people got a chance to practice when she didn’t wasn’t at all in line with the facts. Some brothers and sisters weren’t familiar with the work because they’d just started, so they weren’t very effective at first, but through fellowship of the principles of truth, they could understand and enter, make progress, and show potential for training. Others had deviations and failures in their duties, but after fellowship and help, could reflect on themselves, seek principles, and change, and soon they were able to make progress. After Chen Lin began her watering duty, the leaders helped her many times, and gave her ample time to practice, but she was never wholehearted or hardworking, and when the brothers and sisters pointed out her problems, she didn’t take it seriously. After years of practice, she made no progress and still couldn’t resolve newcomers’ difficulties, so the church dismissed her. But she never reflected on herself or tried to understand why she failed, nor did she feel she owed God for her failure in her duty. Instead, she claimed God’s house didn’t give her a chance, said God was unfair, and complained that God had no love. This was just unreasonably twisting the facts to fit her narrative. Once I realized this, I thought of how I previously lacked discernment. I couldn’t clearly see the obvious problem of Chen Lin spreading negativity and notions. I actually thought this might be the church’s mistake, and I wanted to put it right. I really was too ignorant and blind.
Later, I thought about a passage of God’s word. “Basically, these are the various states of people who exude negativity. When their interests, status, prestige—as well as desires, predilections, and so on—have not been fulfilled, when God does things that run contrary to their notions, imaginings, and interests, they fall prey to emotions such as defiance and dissatisfaction. And starting from when they have this defiance and dissatisfaction, their minds start to produce excuses, pretexts, justifications, defenses, and other aggrieved thoughts. When such aggrieved thoughts occur, instead of praising, obeying and, moreover, seeking God, they fight back against God using their notions, imaginings, ideas and opinions, or impetuousness. And what do they fight against? They resist the things they are disgruntled with, they want them to be as they would like, as they would wish, they want to resolve them, to turn the situation around; they do not obey all that God has arranged. Because what God does runs contrary to their notions and interests, and is not in line with their thinking, they believe that God does not love them, and that God is not doing the right thing. And because they believe these things, they stand up and oppose God, they try to deny that God is the truth, they deny the identity and essence of God—and, moreover, they deny the righteous disposition of God. Of course, they also deny the fact of God’s sovereignty over all things. And by what means do they deny all this? Through resistance and opposition: ‘I will not obey, I will not believe that what You do is the truth. What can You do about it? What You do is at odds with my notions, so it is not the truth, and so I am going to argue with You, and will spread these ideas to people in the church. I will say whatever I want, and I don’t care what the consequences are. I have freedom of speech, You can’t shut me up, I’ll say what I want.’ When people insist on broadcasting these fallacious personal opinions and ideas, are they talking of their own understanding? Are they fellowshiping the truth? They are spreading negativity, they are propagating evil fallacies. They are not trying to know or reveal their own corruption or the things they have done that are at odds with the truth, nor are they revealing the mistakes they have made; instead, they are rationalizing and defending their own defiance and dissatisfaction to prove that they are right, and at the same time are also making ludicrous judgments, and broadcasting adverse and fallacious ideas and insights, as well as perverted and wicked words. The effect on anyone who hears this is disruption and delusion; it can even plunge some people into a state of negativity and confusion—which are all the adverse effects caused by people exuding negativity” (“Identifying False Leaders (17)” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From what God’s word revealed, I learned that those who spread negativity and notions are essentially nonbelievers, and they are devils. They do not believe in God’s word, do not recognize God’s sovereignty, and their views are essentially those of unbelievers. Instead of seeking the truth when things happen, they rely on their own notions and beliefs, and when things go against their wishes or harm their interests, they are guaranteed to complain against and resist God, arbitrarily judge and spread notions among their brothers and sisters, and say whatever they please, without any reverence for God in their hearts. I couldn’t see the essence of Chen Lin’s spreading negativity and notions mainly because I didn’t understand what spreading negativity was, and I took her negative remarks at the meeting as opening up about her corrupt expression. I felt it normal to be negative and weak and to have notions about God at such times. When Chen Lin revealed the notions in her heart while talking about her state, I thought it was normal. But opening up about one’s corruption and spreading negativity and notions are completely different things. When things go against our desires, we may develop notions and misunderstandings about God, but if you truly believe in God, if you have conscience and reason, if you have fear of God, then even if you don’t know God’s will, you will pray and seek, you won’t speak at will, you can receive from God, learn lessons, and seek the truth to resolve your notions. In fellowship you will analyze where these notions are mistaken, reveal and acknowledge your own corruption, and lay bare your ugly face. When your brothers and sisters hear your fellowship, they aren’t misled, nor do they develop misunderstandings and complaints about God. Instead, they can understand the truth and are able to discern and reject erroneous views. What your fellowship achieves is positive effects. This is what it means to open up and fellowship. The essence of spreading negativity and notions is different. On the surface it seems to be talking about one’s state or opening up about one’s corruption, but the goal isn’t to seek the truth, understand God’s will, or to solve one’s own problems. Instead, they use it to vent negative emotions and dissatisfaction during fellowship, complain about the environments God creates, think others make things difficult for them, or even spread notions and misunderstandings about God or spread absurd or negative views. But they never admit their corrupt disposition, self-reflect, or learn lessons. Some people even avoid talking about their own problems, and always attribute their failures to objective reasons. After people hear such fellowship, if they don’t understand the truth or carefully discern, they can easily be deceived, and thus sympathize with the speaker, and stand on their side against God, or misunderstand and complain about God and God’s house. In addition, I used to judge whether someone was spreading negativity and notions based on the context and whether their words had intentions. This shows I didn’t understand the truth or how to view matters. Actually, to discern whether someone is spreading negativity, the key is not someone’s purpose or in what context they speak, but the essence and consequences of what they say. If someone speaks to express dissatisfaction with God, and they spread notions about God and create a negative influence on those around them, which makes people misunderstand God, blame God, oppose God’s house, and sink into negativity, then whether or not they do it deliberately, their words are spreading negativity and disrupting church life.
This time, I didn’t have discernment about Chen Lin, because beyond not knowing what it means to spread negativity, I couldn’t distinguish accurately between good and bad humanity. Later, I read a passage of God’s word that helped me understand this aspect of truth. God’s words say, “When different things happen to people, there are all sorts of manifestations in them that show the difference between good humanity and bad humanity. So what are the criteria for measuring humanity? How should what kind of a person someone is, and whether or not they can be saved, be measured? This depends on whether they love and are able to accept the truth. People all have notions and rebelliousness inside them, they all have corrupt dispositions, and they will often encounter times when what God asks is at odds with their own interests—these are things that they will all often experience, none of them can avoid them; everyone will also have times when they misinterpret God and have notions about God, or when they are resentful, or push back, or are rebellious toward God—but the reaction of different people varies. Some people say nothing when they have notions. Why not? (They have a heart that fears God.) That’s right: They have a heart that fears God. They are afraid that speaking up will have a negative effect, and they merely try to resolve this in their heart, without affecting anyone else. This is being kindhearted. People who are kindhearted are loving toward others, they are willing to help others solve their difficulties. There are principles when they do things to help others, they help others fix problems in order to be of benefit to them, and they say nothing that is not of benefit to them. This is love. Such people have a heart that fears God, and their actions are principled and wise. These are the criteria for measuring whether people’s humanity is good or bad. They know that negative things are bad, and they don’t spread them to other people, they pray and handle them inside, they seek the truth, they have an attitude of obedience, and then bit-by-bit, they obey, allowing them to be at one with what God asks. When they have notions, some people don’t spread them to outsiders, but do spread them among their family. For example, among their relatives there may be those who believe in God and those who don’t, as well as those who half believe and are half skeptical; when they have notions, they spread them among family members, with the result that all of these people are dragged down with them, and start having notions and misunderstandings about God. Notions and misunderstandings are inherently pestilential: Once they are spread, those who are without the truth and lacking in discernment are all liable to come to harm. Muddle-headed people, in particular, become even more confused when they hear them. That’s unless people are kindhearted, and able to seek the truth: They can gain discernment, and reject these negative and adverse things, and so they are protected by God. So what do you say, how big is most people’s stature? They are utterly without stature, and are incapable of discernment; they can’t even identify evil people and nonbelievers, in which case, are they likely to be disturbed by these negative and adverse things? In their hearts, they are certain to be disturbed. And once these things—things that offer no edification to people—are spread, when they hear them some people become weak, some stop being able to believe, and some are even liable to rise up and resist and interfere together with whoever told them. And what kind of people are those who spread these things? They are all wicked, they are all demons, and they shall all be exposed and cast out” (“The Attitude Man Should Have Toward God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s word, I understood that whether someone has good or bad humanity isn’t based on whether they’re easy to get along with, nor on how enthusiastic they appear, how many good things they do, or how many people approve of them. What matters is how they treat God and the truth, their attitude toward their duty, and whether or not they love the truth and can accept it. Chen Lin was dismissed, but faced such a huge setback, she didn’t seek the truth at all, nor did she fear God. She even spread notions and negativity, causing others to complain about God and the arrangement of God’s house just like her. She also didn’t accept the leader’s exposure and analysis, and tried to justify herself. This behavior alone shows that she didn’t accept the truth and had bad humanity. Her heart wasn’t right. It wasn’t turned toward God or God’s house. When things didn’t go her way, she opposed and complained against God. This completely reveals her malicious nature, her complete lack of reason, and lack of fear of God in her heart. After I weighed these things and analyzed Chen Lin’s behavior using God’s word, my mind was much clearer, and I could also accurately see Chen Lin for who she really was. She was a nonbeliever with bad humanity and a nature that detested the truth. The moment God’s work went against her notions, she would blame God, hate God, and clamor against God. I saw that the church had handled her correctly, in accordance with the principles of truth, and in a fair and just manner.
Chen Lin also said if discussing one’s state at meetings is spreading negativity, then she no longer understood how to fellowship. I saw that she didn’t accept the truth at all. She spread negativity, and others discerned it and tried to stop and restrict her. She not only didn’t reflect on herself, she also said she didn’t know how she’d fellowship. What she meant was that others were constraining her, and she didn’t dare open up and fellowship again. She was pointing the finger at others, to make people focus on other people’s problems. She was making false countercharges. When others heard her words and didn’t discern them, she had confused them. If this situation arises, people won’t know how to practice. So, to avoid spreading negativity, how should we open up and fellowship in the future? At the time, I was also confused. Later, I sought a path of practice in this area, and I read this passage of God’s word: “When people have a satanic nature—and when they live by their satanic nature—it is very difficult for them to avoid having a negative state. Such negativity, especially, is a common occurrence when they do not understand the truth. Everyone has times when they are negative. Some people are negative much of the time, others rarely. Some are negative for long lengths of time, others briefly. People’s statures are different, and so their negative states are, too. … How can the problem of frequent negativity be solved? If people do not know how to seek the truth, they will not be able to stand firm. If you do not know how to eat and drink God’s words, and if you do not know how to pray to God, then you’re in a lot of trouble; you can only rely on the help and support of the brothers and sisters. If they are also of small stature, and unable to support or help you, then it is highly likely that you will become cripplingly negative, and you may even stop believing. See how it is also very dangerous for people to always have notions, and to always be negative. What’s more, when you can’t get to the bottom of something, you should at least make sure you don’t go around spreading it to other people. If you have some fear of God, and you are able to accept the truth, and can acknowledge that you are a follower of God, you must not deliberately do anything disruptive or that causes interruptions. This is one thing you must guarantee. … If you are willing to speak to others, and people are able to help you, that’s best; if you don’t wish to tell anyone else, then slowly deal with it by yourself. Communicate and search for an answer with God, and slowly change. If you are beset by very serious and major things that make you negative—if, for example, you feel that there is no hope for you after being replaced, or you are severely pruned and dealt with and have the sense that you have been cursed and condemned, or else a serious incident occurs in your family, and your family members and loved ones die, snatched away by disaster, and these things plunge you into negativity, and you have certain misconceptions about God, and feel negative and aggrieved—then what should you do in such circumstances? This can be solved, too. Find a few people who understand the truth and fellowship and search with them, telling them what’s in your heart. Even more important is to come before God and truthfully communicate and inform Him of all this negativity, weakness, and things you don’t understand and that are insurmountable—don’t hide them. If you have things that are unspeakable, that you can tell no one else, it is even more necessary to come before God and pray to God” (“Identifying False Leaders (17)” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s word, I understood that people may expose corruption and have negative states, or have complaints about God when encountering environments they dislike. When we have these negative states, we must have a heart that fears God, learn to guard our tongue, not spread what we don’t know or understand everywhere, and not cause disruptions for others. This is the bare minimum. At the same time, we must come before God and pray, eat and drink God’s word, seek truth to resolve things, and emerge from our negativity and notions as soon as possible. If we can’t resolve it by ourselves, we can seek fellowship with leaders and workers or someone who understands the truth. This is normally seeking the truth to solve problems, and not spreading negativity. But we must seek with a right person. Some new believers don’t understand the truth or have too little stature for discernment. Opening up and fellowshiping with them not only doesn’t help us, it can instill notions and misunderstandings in them. Fellowship like this does little to edify people, and makes them prone to stumbling. No matter how negative we are, or what notions or misunderstandings we have, we must all come before God to pray and seek with God, seek the truth in God’s word, and seek the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment. Once we understand the truth and resolve our notions and misunderstandings, then we can share our experience with others. You can fellowship on how you sought the truth, recognized your mistaken views, learned to discern negative things, how you understood God’s will, and resolved your notions and misunderstandings about God. This is true opening up and fellowshiping, and it is testifying God. Opening up like this is edifying for people. Once I understood this, I had a path of practice.
This experience taught me the difference between spreading negativity and normal opening up, gave me the principle to evaluate good and bad humanity, along with some discernment about hidden nonbelievers in the church. I think it was very beneficial. Thank God!