Does a Good Friend Look the Other Way?

November 30, 2022

By Ding Li, USA

Sister Barbara and I had known one another for two years, and we had built up quite a rapport, and every time we got chatting, it felt like we could go on forever. We’d often talk about each of our experiences and what we’d gained from them. Whenever something happened to her, she’d come find me, and whenever I had a problem, I wanted to fellowship with her. She always fellowshiped with me patiently and I cherished this close relationship we had. I felt that it was great to have a sister by my side who could help and support me.

Last year, I inadvertently heard Barbara chatting with some sisters about the great results she had been getting in her gospel work lately, how many of those she was preaching to were filled with religious notions, and then, through prayer and reliance on God, fellowshiping with them patiently, and reading them God’s word, they quickly came to accept God’s last days’ work. I saw the sisters looking at her with admiration after hearing that, circling her with all kinds of questions, seeking good paths of practice. I felt a little concerned and thought, “It’s good that her gospel work is going so well, but she only talked about how great her results were, not about the specific path she took, nor did she testify to how God guided her in this time. Isn’t she just showing off by talking like this?” A few days later, Sister Faye said to me, “Barbara’s so talented and has already achieved such great results in her gospel work. She said a leader even called on her to fellowship her experiences at a gathering.” My heart jolted when I heard this: Why is Barbara saying these things? Faye admires her so much now, but this isn’t beneficial to her. I realized that Barbara was always showing off the good results she’d obtained performing her duty and I felt kind of uneasy. God has fellowshiped that showing off and exalting oneself is a revelation of a satanic disposition, so it would be dangerous to carry on like this. I couldn’t let this go on. I had to find a chance to point this out to Barbara. But whenever I thought about pointing this problem out to her, I’d hesitate. I recalled a couple of experiences from a few years before. My partner, Janie, would often reel off doctrines, chiding others from a high position, but she’d never analyze or know herself. I pointed out this problem to her, and not only wouldn’t she accept it, she even hit back at me by bringing up my past failures and transgressions. Afterwards, she was reluctant to even acknowledge me. This made things really awkward and painful for me. On another occasion, Sister Roxanna went off topic in her fellowship during a gathering and I pointed this out to her. Later, she opened up to me and said that she’d felt really embarrassed and resistant when I’d pointed out her issue, and that she’d felt I was deliberately trying to make things difficult for her, to the point where she didn’t even want to fellowship at later gatherings. Though she went on to seek, reflect on, and recognize her problems, hearing her say this was really difficult for me. After this, I felt very wary of pointing out others’ problems. I thought about how great my relationship had always been with Barbara, and wondered if I pointed out her problem to her, would she feel backed into an uncomfortable position? What would I do if she wouldn’t listen and became prejudiced against me, if she felt that I was exposing her shortcomings and trying to make things hard for her, and then she refused to acknowledge me? We crossed paths a lot every day, so things would be so uncomfortable. She also hadn’t always shown off like this. Maybe by reading God’s word, she’d be able to reflect and come to this realization herself. Never mind then, I’d just keep quiet.

One day, Barbara told me that some brothers and sisters had made a few suggestions to her. They said that she was partial to showing off and making others admire her in her fellowship. This had made her quite uncomfortable. I was all twisted up inside when I heard her say this. The truth was, I had also seen her showing off lately, but because I was afraid of hurting our relationship, I had just turned a blind eye and said nothing to her. Wasn’t this the perfect opportunity? Shouldn’t I also speak out about the problems I’d seen? But then I thought about how things were difficult enough already for her. I wondered whether she wouldn’t be able to take it and become negative if I also spoke up. I realized too that I had to point out the problems I had seen to her, but I worried that she would think I was being too harsh and that she’d distance herself from me, so I thought carefully about what tone of voice to use and how to express myself to be more tactful and not make her feel embarrassed. So I just brought up examples of how I’d exalted myself and showed off in the past, and then how I’d reflected on it and come to understand that, and only in passing at the end did I briefly touch on her problem. I was afraid of embarrassing her, so I gave her a few words of consolation, “Everyone has corrupt dispositions and it’s perfectly normal to show that. I do it too. I’ve always been very arrogant and conceited, and I often show off. Don’t let it constrain you, you’ve got to have the right attitude towards yourself.” She said nothing in response to this. But then, something happened that unsettled me once again.

At one gathering, Barbara was fellowshiping on her understanding of God’s word, and went on to talk about a recent experience she had had in spreading the gospel. She talked about how she had been preaching to a pastor who had believed in the Lord for decades. The man was filled with religious notions and had listened to a lot of rumors. He still wouldn’t accept the gospel even after it was preached to him repeatedly. But then she had gone to fellowship and debate with him, and by finding relevant passages of God’s word, she had refuted his notions one by one, and eventually, he gradually let go of his notions and accepted God’s last-days work. When she finished speaking, everyone’s attention was drawn to her gospel experience, and away from God’s word. At the time, I was a little aware: Isn’t this going off topic? Though she was fellowshiping about her gospel experience, when she’d finished, everyone started admiring her and looking up to her. Isn’t this her showing off? I wanted to point this out to her and get her to stop talking about this topic, but I just couldn’t get the words out: If I interrupt her in front of this many people, won’t she be really embarrassed? It was true that Barbara had gotten some results in her gospel work, so if I do say this to her, will everyone think it’s because I’m jealous and intentionally making things difficult for her? Maybe her intentions are good and she’s not trying to show off? So I didn’t speak up, but I couldn’t calm myself down enough to ponder God’s word, and my fellowship was unenlightened as I just gave a few uninspired words, and so the gathering came to a close.

I spent that evening tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the things Barbara had said to show off in the gathering, and about the looks of admiration on everyone’s faces. What she had fellowshiped hadn’t given the others any better understanding of God’s word, rather, she had drawn everyone’s attention to her gospel work, and so the gathering had not achieved anything good. Fearing embarrassing her, I had said nothing and failed to protect church life. Wasn’t I just being a people-pleaser without any sense of justice? I recalled a passage of God’s word: “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? … Do you think that next time you will be able to make up for the eating and drinking that Satan has taken away this time? Thus, you now see it clearly; is this something for which you can compensate? Can you make up for the time lost? You must diligently examine yourselves to see why no eating and drinking was done in the past few meetings, and who caused this trouble. You must fellowship one by one until it is clear. If such a person is not strongly constrained, then your brothers and sisters will not understand, and then it will just happen again. Your spiritual eyes are closed; too many of you are blind! Moreover, those who do see are careless about it. They do not stand and speak up, and they, too, are blind. Those who see but do not speak up are mute. There are many here with handicaps(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 13). God’s word deeply distressed me. I thought about how Barbara had gone off topic in her fellowship, wasted everyone’s time, and impacted the productiveness of the gathering, and yet I’d just looked on silently. I kept thinking to myself, “I clearly knew Barbara was going off topic, so why did I not protect church life? Why did I choose to remain silent and be a people-pleaser?” Firstly, I was uncertain as to whether Barbara’s actions were her exalting herself and showing off. It was true that she had some experience in spreading the gospel, and fellowshiping these experiences could be beneficial to the others, so could her fellowshiping like this be considered showing off? Secondly, I was worried that I wasn’t seeing things clearly, that my speaking up would constrain her, and that the others will think I was saying these things out of jealousy.

At the gathering the next day, I brought up my worries and sought help from a few sisters. We read a passage of God’s word together: “Exalting and testifying to themselves, flaunting themselves, trying to make people think highly of them—corrupt mankind is capable of these things. This is how people instinctively react when they are governed by their satanic natures, and it is common to all of corrupt mankind. How do people usually exalt and testify to themselves? How do they achieve this aim? They testify to how much work they have done, how much they have suffered, how much they have expended themselves, and what price they have paid. They use these things as the capital by which they exalt themselves, which gives them a higher, firmer, more secure place in people’s minds, so that more people esteem, admire, respect, and even venerate, idolize, and follow them. To achieve this aim, people do many things that testify to God on the surface, but essentially exalt and testify to themselves. Is acting that way reasonable? They are beyond the purview of rationality. These people have no shame: They unabashedly testify to what they have done for God and how much they have suffered for Him. They even flaunt their gifts, talents, experience, special skills, their clever techniques for conducting themselves, the means they use to toy with people, and so on. Their method of exalting and testifying to themselves is to flaunt themselves and belittle others. They also dissemble and camouflage themselves, hiding their weaknesses, shortcomings, and deficiencies from people so that they only ever see their brilliance. They do not even dare to tell other people when they feel negative; they lack the courage to open up and fellowship with them, and when they do something wrong, they do their utmost to conceal it and cover it up. Never do they mention the harm they have caused to the work of the church in the course of doing their duty. When they have made some minor contribution or achieved some small success, however, they are quick to show it off. They cannot wait to let the whole world know how capable they are, how high their caliber is, how exceptional they are, and how much better they are than normal people. Is this not a way of exalting and testifying to themselves?(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Four). Through the revelation of God’s word, I understood that one sign of antichrists exalting themselves is their flaunting of their gifts, strengths, contributions, and achievements before others to make people think of them as talented and capable, and gain their respect and admiration. Spreading the gospel and testifying to God are essentially positive things. With her strengths as a gospel worker, if Barbara could have fellowshiped on the difficulties she had encountered, how she then relied on God and experienced His work, what she had gained and learned from this, and the good paths of practice she summed up, that fellowship would have been edifying. But Barbara only talked about how many people she had converted, how much she had suffered, how much of a price she had paid, but nobody listening to her experiences gained any greater understanding of God or any clarity on how to practice or approach different issues. Instead, they just learned more about her and knew that she had gifts and caliber in sharing the gospel, and was more ardent than others. Everyone praised and envied her and felt deeply inadequate. I saw that the results of showing off and exalting and testifying to God were not the same. Through fellowshiping, my previous views were confirmed, and I determined that most of what Barbara said wasn’t testifying God, and rather was said to elevate herself and show off. She was revealing an antichrist’s disposition, which would incur God’s disgust and hatred. The sisters also reminded me that Barbara may not yet be aware of the corrupt disposition she was revealing, and that having seen this, we should lovingly point this out to her. We couldn’t be people-pleasers just to protect our relationships. The sisters’ words filled me with shame, and I decided to fellowship with Barbara as soon as possible.

After the meeting came to an end, I just couldn’t calm myself down. I had seen Barbara’s issues before but not dared to point them out to her, and even when I did say something, I just skimmed over the problem without really achieving anything, meaning Barbara never truly reflected on or became aware of her problem. I was filled with unease and guilt at these thoughts and I couldn’t help but ask myself, “I’m normally so cheerful and lively around Barbara and tell her everything, so why am I finding it so hard to point out her problems? Why can’t I get the words out?” In my searching and reflection, I read God’s word. “You are all well-educated. You all pay attention to being refined and understated in your speech, as well as to the manner in which you speak: You are tactful, and have learned not to do damage to the dignity and pride of others. In your words and actions, you leave people room to maneuver. You do everything you can to put people at ease. You do not expose their scars or shortcomings, and you try not to hurt them or embarrass them. Such is the interpersonal principle by which most people act. And what kind of principle is this? (It is being a people-pleaser; it is deceitful and slippery.) It is conniving, slippery, treacherous, and insidious. Hidden behind people’s smiling faces are a lot of malicious, insidious, and despicable things(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Six Indicators of Life Growth). “All those who stick to a happy medium are the most sinister. They try not to offend anyone, they are people-pleasers, they go along with things, and no one can see through them. A person like that is a living Satan!(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Cast Off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition). “There is a tenet in philosophies for living that says, ‘Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship.’ It means that in order to preserve a friendly relationship, one must keep silent about their friend’s problems, even if they see them clearly—that they should uphold the principles of not attacking the other’s dignity or exposing their deficiencies. They are to deceive each other, hide from each other, engage in intrigue with each other; and though they know with crystal clarity what sort of person the other is, they do not say it outright, but employ cunning methods to preserve their friendly relationships. Why would one want to preserve such relationships? It is about not wanting to make enemies in this society, within the group, which would mean subjecting oneself often to dangerous situations. As you do not know in what way someone will harm you after you have exposed their faults or hurt them and they become your enemy, and do not wish to put yourself in such a position, you employ the tenet of philosophies for living that runs, ‘Never hit below the belt, and never call others up short.’ In light of this, if two people are in such a relationship, do they count as true friends? (No.) They are not true friends, much less are they each other’s confidant. So, what sort of relationship is this, exactly? Is it not a fundamental social relationship? (It is.) In such social relationships, people cannot offer their feelings, nor have deep exchanges, nor say anything they like, nor say out loud what is in their heart, or the problems they see in the other, or words that would benefit the other. Instead, they choose nice-sounding words so as not to hurt the other. They do not wish to make enemies. The goal of this is to keep the people around oneself from posing a threat. When no one is threatening to them, are they not living in relative ease and peace? Is this not people’s goal in promoting the phrase, ‘Never hit below the belt, and never call others up short’? (It is.) Clearly, this is a cunning, deceptive way of existence, with an element of defensiveness, and whose goal is self-preservation. People who live like this have no confidants, no close friends with whom they can say anything at all. They are defensive with each other, and calculating, and strategic, each taking what they need from the relationship. Is this not so? At its root, the goal of ‘never hit below the belt, and never call others up short’ is to keep from offending others and making enemies, to protect oneself by not causing hurt to anyone. It is a technique and method adopted to keep oneself from being hurt. Looking at these several facets of essence, is the demand made of people’s virtue to ‘never hit below the belt, and never call others up short’ a noble tenet? Is it positive? (No.) Then what is it teaching people? That you should not upset or hurt anyone, otherwise, you are the one who will end up getting hurt; and also, that you should not trust anyone. If you hurt any one of your good friends, the friendship will quietly start to change; they will go from being your good, close friend, to a stranger passing by on the street, or your enemy. … So, what is the end result accomplished by what this phrase teaches people? Does it make people more honest, or more deceitful? It results in people becoming more deceitful; people’s hearts grow farther apart, the distance between people widens, and people’s relationships become complicated; it is equivalent to people’s social relationships becoming complicated. People’s dialogue begins to fizzle, and it causes a mindset of guarding oneself against each other. Can people’s relationships be normal this way? Will the social climate improve? (No.) So that’s why the phrase ‘never hit below the belt, and never call others up short’ is obviously wrong. Teaching people this way cannot make them live out normal humanity; moreover, it cannot make people honest, upright, or candid; it absolutely cannot achieve a positive effect(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (8)). By reading God’s word, I saw that I was relying on satanic philosophies of living in how I interacted with Barbara, such as “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” “Never hit people below the belt,” and “One more friend means one more path.” Until that point, I had regarded these philosophies as principles by which to interact with people. I had thought that behaving like this was the only way to maintain interpersonal relations, not offend others, and not create trouble for myself. Through the revelation of God’s word, I finally saw that these philosophies were sly, deceptive, and treacherous ways to live, that they made people guarded against one another and prevented sincere interaction, much less did they allow for love of one another. Though interacting in this way avoids offending or creating trouble for yourself, it prevents you from making true friends, and only allows people to become ever more fake and deceptive. I also came to understand that one should be candid when interacting with others, and that when you see somebody has a problem, you should rely on compassion to help them as best you can. Even if in the moment, they can’t accept it and misunderstand you, you still must adhere to those principles and set the right intentions when approaching them. For those who genuinely accept the truth, when they are dealt with, though they may feel momentarily embarrassed and unaccepting, they will later be able to seek the truth and reflect on themselves. Not only will they not begrudge others, rather, they will be grateful to the person who corrected them. I thought back on my interactions with Barbara. On several occasions I’d clearly seen her showing off in front of others, and that the others thought very highly of her, but I was afraid of wounding her ego by pointing out her problem, and that she’d then disregard me in the future. So, to keep on good terms with her, I just looked on without saying anything to her or helping her as she revealed corruption, which meant she was not reflecting on and did not know her problem, and later went back to her old ways. I saw that living by these satanic philosophies, I had only wanted to protect our relationship, for Barbara to say I was an understanding and empathetic person. I had not considered her life entry. If only I had pointed out the problems I had seen to her sooner, maybe she would have had some understanding of her corrupt disposition and wouldn’t say such unreasonable things during gatherings. I had become a people-pleaser to protect our relationship! This was truly harmful behavior! I then thought of another sister I had interacted with. I saw that she was often perfunctory in her duty, and that when the others pointed out her problems to her, she’d argue back and be unable to accept it. I had wanted to fellowship with her to help her reflect on herself, but I felt that she was quite old, and if I pointed out her problem, I would hurt her ego and make her think of me as overly harsh. So I just turned a blind eye to her problem and remained outwardly cheerful, chatty, and friendly with her. It was only after she was dismissed for being perfunctory in her duty that I regretted not helping her sooner. It was only after she left that I fellowshiped the problems I had seen with her. Though she’d come to recognize her problem, she reproached me for not pointing it out to her sooner and said that if she’d been able to mend her ways earlier, she maybe wouldn’t have been dismissed. At this thought I finally saw that living by these philosophies and being a people-pleaser is not the same as being a genuinely good person at all. It does not show sincerity or compassion toward others at all, and is instead selfish and deceitful. I was living out a satanic disposition and disgusting God. Barbara had always been so sincere with me, but I had just relied on these philosophies while interacting with her and not practiced the truth. I had only considered how not to offend her and how to preserve the good image she had of me, and when I saw her revealing corruption I just disregarded it. Could I call myself a good friend while acting like this? I saw that “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship” was truly a falsehood of Satan, and I no longer wanted to live by it.

In my reflection, I realized that there was another reason I didn’t dare point out Barbara’s problem: I held a mistaken view. I had always thought that pointing out another’s problem was exposing a flaw of theirs, that it would hurt their ego, likely offend them, and that it was a thankless act. So with Barbara, I always feared that she would be offended if I pointed out her problem and that it would ruin our relationship, which made it very difficult to practice the truth. So I sought God, asking Him to guide me in resolving this problem of mine.

In my search, I read these words of God. “God demands that people tell the truth, say what they think, and not trick, make fun of, mislead, satirize, insult, constrict, hurt, expose people’s weaknesses, or mock people. Are these not the principles of speech? What does it mean to say one should not expose people’s weaknesses? It means not to get dirt on other people. Do not hold on to their past mistakes or shortcomings in order to judge or condemn them. This is the least you should do. On the proactive side, how is constructive speech expressed? It is mainly encouraging, orienting, guiding, exhorting, understanding, and comforting. Also, sometimes it is necessary to point out and criticize others’ shortcomings, deficiencies, and faults directly. This is of great benefit to people. It is a real help to them, and it is constructive for them, is it not? … And what, in sum, is the principle behind speaking? It is this: say what’s in your heart, and speak of your true experiences and what you really think. These words are the most beneficial to people, they provide for people, they help them, they are positive. Refuse to say those fake words, those words that do not benefit or edify people; this will avoid harming them or tripping them up, plunging them into negativity and having a negative effect. You must say positive things. You must strive to help people as much as you can, to benefit them, to provide to them, to produce in them true faith in God; and you must allow people to be helped, and to gain much, from your experiences of God’s words and the way you solve problems, and to be able to understand the path of experiencing the work of God and entering the reality of the truth, allowing them to enter into life and making their life grow—which is all the effect of your words having principles, and being edifying to people(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (3)). “If you have a good relationship with a brother or a sister, and they ask you to point out what is wrong with them, how should you do it? This relates to what approach you take to the matter. … According to the principle of the truth, then, how should you approach this matter? What action accords with the truth? How many relevant principles are there? Firstly, at the very least, do not cause others to stumble. You must first consider the other’s weaknesses and what way of speaking with them will not cause them to stumble. This is the very least that ought to be considered. Next, if you know they are someone who truly believes in God and can accept the truth, then when you notice they have a problem, you should take the initiative to help them. If you do nothing and laugh at them, this constitutes hurting and harming them. Someone who does so has no conscience or sense, and they have no love for others. Those who have a bit of conscience and sense cannot just look at their brothers and sisters as a joke. They should think of different ways to help them resolve their problem. They should let the person understand what happened and where their mistake was. Whether they can repent is their own matter; we will have lived up to our responsibility. Even if they do not repent now, sooner or later there will be a day when they come to their senses, and they will not blame you or accuse you. At the least, how you treat your brothers and sisters cannot be below the standards of conscience and reason. Do not indebt yourself to others; help them to the extent you can. This is what people should do. People who can treat their brothers and sisters with love and in accordance with the principles of truth are the best kind of people. They are also the most kind-hearted. Of course, true brothers and sisters are those people who can accept and practice the truth. If a person only believes in God to eat their fill of bread or to receive blessings, but does not accept the truth, then they are not a brother or sister. You must treat true brothers and sisters according to the principles of truth. No matter how they believe in God or what path they are on, you should help them in the spirit of love. What is the minimum effect one should achieve? First, it is not causing them to stumble, and not letting them become negative; second, it is helping them, and making them come back off of the wrong path; and third, it is making them understand the truth and choose the right path. These three sorts of effect can only be achieved by helping them in the spirit of love. If you do not have true love, you cannot achieve these three sorts of effect, and you could only achieve one or two at best. These three sorts of effect are also the three principles for helping others. You know these three principles and have a handle on them, but how are they actually enacted? Do you truly understand the other’s difficulty? Is this not another problem? You must also think, ‘What is the origin of their difficulty? Am I capable of helping them? If my stature is too small and I cannot solve their problem, and I speak carelessly, I may point them onto the wrong path. Beyond that, how capable is this person of understanding the truth, and what is their caliber? Are they opinionated? Do they understand spiritual matters? Can they accept the truth? Do they pursue the truth? If they see that I am more capable than them, and I fellowship with them, will jealousy or negativity arise in them?’ These questions must all be considered. After you have considered and gained clarity on these questions, go fellowship with that person, read several passages of God’s words that apply to their problem, and enable them to understand the truth in God’s words and find the path to practice. Then, the problem will be solved, and they will get out of hardship. Is this a simple matter? This is no simple matter. If you do not understand the truth, no matter how much you say, it will be of no use. If you understand the truth, they can be enlightened and benefited with a few sentences(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Resolve Their Notions and Misunderstandings of God). From God’s word I came to understand that if you are exposing a person’s shortcomings to prey on their weaknesses to judge and condemn them, and if your intentions are to ridicule, mock, and denounce them, then this disgusts God. But if you point out a person’s problems and shortcomings with the intention of helping them, this is edifying, and is an expression of compassion for others and a sense of responsibility for their lives. If the person pursues the truth, then with the help of others, they will be able to reflect on themselves and seek the truth to resolve their problems, and they will make progress in their life entry. However, some people are resistant and averse to being dealt with and having their issues pointed out. This shows that they don’t accept the truth and that their disposition is sick of the truth. I saw that before I had believed that pointing out another’s problems was the same as exposing their shortcomings and that it was a thankless task. This view was completely mistaken. I also came to understand that there are principles to pointing out others’ problems. It’s not only about having good intentions and enthusiasm, or pointing out people’s problems to them directly, no matter who they are. Sometimes you’ll need to use wisdom and follow the principles of the truth. What’s most important is that you consider the relevant truths, that you help others understand the truth and God’s will by pointing things out to them, and that you give them a path of practice. Only by doing this are you genuinely helping people. At this point I finally realized that I hadn’t been getting good results when I’d been pointing out others’ problems before because I hadn’t been seeking the principles of the truth. Just like with Roxanna who was vain, concerned about her reputation, and who had not been dealt with before. When I found that she was going off topic in her fellowship, not only should I have pointed out her problem to her, I should then have also shared with her the principles on fellowshiping God’s word to help her find a path of practice. This would have avoided constraining her and enabled her to fellowship according to principles in later gatherings. When I understood this principle, I was no longer afraid to point out Barbara’s problems, and knew that I should help her according to the principles and with compassion to prevent her taking the wrong path. In my heart, I sought and prayed to God, “How can I fellowship with Barbara effectively, not constrain her, and also allow her to understand this aspect of the truth, and recognize her problem?”

Whenever I had the time, I’d ponder this problem, seek out and consider the words of God which expose those who show off and exalt themselves. I looked for a time to open up to Barbara in fellowship and to talk to her about her problems that I’d noticed during this period, as well as to fellowship with her on the nature and consequences of showing off, and on the attitude with which God treats this kind of behavior. After I fellowshiped with her, Barbara finally realized the seriousness of her problem, realized that she was controlled by an obsession with status, that she liked having a place in people’s hearts and having people admire her, and that this kind of pursuit disgusts God. She later went on to analyze and open up about this behavior of hers at a gathering, which helped everyone to recognize it. Seeing that Barbara was able to reflect on and recognize her problem, and hate herself, I felt happy. But at the same time, I felt guilty. I regretted that it had taken me until now to fellowship and point this out to her. She didn’t become prejudiced towards me because I pointed out and exposed her problem, nor did our relationship break down, instead, we became closer than before. I understood that only by living by God’s word and interacting with people according to principles can one feel a sense of peace.

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