Don’t Let Jealousy Overtake You
By Li Fang, China
I was serving as a church leader in the summer of 2017. In response to work needs, the upper leader arranged for Sister Yang and Sister Wang to work alongside me, and she told me to help them out. After a time, I saw that these two sisters had a burden for their duty and made quick progress. I didn’t need to worry about some things—those two could discuss and handle them. At first I was really happy about that, but after a while, it started leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I was the leader, so church matters, large and small, really should be discussed with me first. But now, they made some arrangements without talking to me. They weren’t taking me seriously anymore! If that went on, I’d be a leader in name only.
In a gathering, a supervisor mentioned the two sisters I worked with. She said, “They really take on a burden in their duty. Before we were always short of waterers, but since they came, adjustments have been made quickly and the team is pretty effective.” I verbally gave thanks to God, but in my heart, I wasn’t so pleased. I could feel my face burning. It seemed that the others thought more of them than of me, after all. I’d been a leader for several years, but it had just been a few days for them. Were they better than me? I didn’t want to accept it. I didn’t hear anything the supervisor said after that. I dragged myself home after the gathering. That night I lay in bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. I felt really upset every time I thought about what the supervisor had said. After being a leader for years, I still didn’t match up to those sisters who just started training. What would the upper leader think of me if she knew? Would she say I was incompetent and not a good fit as a leader? The others used to look up to me, but now everyone thought those sisters were better. Would they back them instead of me after that? I felt like Sister Yang and Sister Wang had stolen my thunder, and I was filled with jealousy and resentment toward them. My mind was churning during that time, and I was afraid my position wasn’t secure. I silently encouraged myself that I had to do a good job and strive to get all our projects done well so everyone would see I wasn’t second to them at all. After that, I got up early and stayed up late every day. I ran to the fore for any important work and quickly resolved any problems that came up, afraid my sisters would be in the forefront. Sometimes I even hoped they’d mess up and lose face. One day while checking the church books, we found inconsistencies in the numbers sent out and received. They had been handling the distribution and receipt of books, and seeing them so anxiously hunting for the reason, I not only wouldn’t help them, but I was reveling in their misfortune, thinking, “I thought you were so capable—now what are you going to do?” I said in a reprimanding tone, “A problem with the church books is a big deal.” This was a really stressful thing for them to hear and it had an impact on their states. I was feeling secretly happy, “We’ll see if the leader thinks they’re better after making such a big mistake! If they stay in a negative state, I won’t need to worry about any threat to my position.” At the time I felt a little guilty and I realized that was crossing a line, but I didn’t really reflect on it.
Sister Wang’s duty was changed later on for some reasons, leaving me and Sister Yang working together. One day in a work discussion, I noticed the upper leader was always asking for Sister Yang’s opinion while I sat to one side feeling snubbed. I couldn’t help but conjecture that the leader might think she was younger and had more caliber, so wanted to train her. I felt crushed at the thought. The leader had always discussed things with me before, but now she valued Sister Yang. Didn’t that make her look better than me? My jealousy was cropping up again. During that time, I’d scold her whenever I noticed mistakes in her work and sometimes just gave her the cold shoulder. And in every gathering, I’d assert myself to be the one to preside so I could resolve everyone’s issues, not giving her a chance to fellowship. Her state got worse and worse and she no longer had a burden for the church’s work. Some things weren’t handled on time which hurt the church’s work. At the time I did feel kind of guilty. I felt that I had a lot to do with her negative state, but I didn’t reflect on myself. I didn’t have any understanding of my own state until God’s discipline came upon me.
One day I suddenly felt sick and feverish, then later developed a cough. I thought my asthma was acting up again, but a sister warned me, “Lately I’ve noticed you’re the only one fellowshiping in gatherings. Sister Yang can’t get a word in. You should really reflect on yourself. Keeping on this way is dangerous!” I not only wouldn’t accept it, but I did everything to argue my case: “You don’t know her, she’s not good with words. Sometimes there would just be silence in gatherings if I didn’t fellowship.” She didn’t say anything further. Later, my cough got worse and worse and no medication was helping. No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t fellowship in gatherings. I went to see the doctor to get it checked. The doctor said I had severe bronchiectasis and tuberculosis, and he said those are really serious diseases, that it takes a year of medication to get it under control. When I heard that I just sat there in shock, feeling really miserable. I’d had tuberculosis before and it was really hard to treat. I didn’t know how I could have gotten it again, and such a serious case. Since tuberculosis is contagious, I couldn’t have contact with the brothers and sisters. That meant I wouldn’t be able to do my duty. I’d done a duty all my years of faith, and I’d even left my family and job behind to expend myself. Especially at that time, work was really busy and I was at the front of it all. Why did I get such a serious illness? What was God’s will? I felt worse the more I thought about it, and kept hiding under my comforter to cry. Once, I prayed to God, in tears, “God! I’m in so much pain. I don’t know how to get through this. Please enlighten me to understand Your will so I can learn my lesson through this illness.”
One day I read these words of God in my devotionals. God says, “Most of the time, when you are beset by serious illness or some unusual sickness, and it causes you great pain, these things do not happen by accident; whether you are sick or healthy, God’s will is behind it all” (“In Believing in God, Gaining the Truth Is Most Crucial” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Pondering this, I realized God allowing me to become so ill wasn’t at all arbitrary, but certainly contained God’s will. I had to seriously self-reflect. I prayed and sought over and over. In my reflections, I suddenly realized that my constant jealousy of Sister Yang, living in a state of fighting for name and gain without changing had caused her to feel constrained and that impacted the church’s work. I felt guilty and full of regret. I read this in: “Cruel mankind! The connivance and intrigue, the snatching and grabbing one from another, the scramble for fame and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? Despite the hundreds of thousands of words God has spoken, no one has come to their senses. People act for the sake of their families, sons and daughters, for their careers, future prospects, position, vainglory, and money, for the sake of food, clothing, and the flesh. But is there anyone whose actions are truly for the sake of God? Even among those who act for the sake of God, there are but few who know God. How many people do not act out of their own interests? How many do not oppress or ostracize others in order to protect their own position?” (“The Wicked Will Surely Be Punished” in ). “There are some who are always afraid that others are better than they and higher than they, that others will be esteemed while they are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only about one’s own interests, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for others or the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them” (“In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading God’s words was really poignant for me. He was revealing precisely my state. Since I’d seen those two sisters doing their duty skillfully and learning fast, and they handled things without discussing them with me, I’d become uncomfortable and thought they disregarded me. When that supervisor praised them for being effective in their duty, I felt even more like they were a threat to my position and wanted to steal my thunder. To prove I was better than them and secure my position, I seized the limelight when fellowshiping and resolving others’ problems in gatherings and didn’t give them a chance to share fellowship. When something was unclear while balancing the books, instead of helping them find the reason, I enjoyed their misery and made snide remarks, leaving them pressured and living within negativity. I was so malicious. At this thought, I felt guilty and regretful, and prayed to God in tears, “Oh God, You elevated me to do a duty. Not only did I fail to do it well and repay Your love, but I was jealous of those with ability, and fought for name and gain. My behavior has been nauseating, disgusting to You. God, I want to repent and change.” I read these words from God. “When confronted with a problem, some people do seek an answer from others, but when the other person speaks according to the truth, they don’t accept it, they are not able to obey, and in their hearts, they think, ‘I’m normally better than him. If I listen to his suggestion this time, won’t it look like he’s superior to me? No, I can’t listen to him with this matter. I’ll just do it my way.’ Then they find a reason and an excuse to shoot down the other person’s point of view. What kind of disposition is it when a person sees someone who is better than them and they try to bring them down, spreading rumors about them, or employing despicable means to denigrate them and undermine their reputation—even trampling all over them—in order to protect their own place in people’s minds? This is not just arrogance and conceitedness, it is the disposition of Satan, it is a malicious disposition. That this person can attack and alienate people who are better and stronger than them is insidious and evil. And that they will stop at nothing to bring people down shows that there is much of a devil in them! Living by the disposition of Satan, they are liable to belittle people, to try to stitch them up, to make things hard for them. Is this not evildoing? And living like this, they still think they’re okay, that they’re a good person—yet when they see someone stronger than them, they are liable to give them a hard time, to trample all over them. What is the issue here? Are people who are capable of committing such evil acts not unscrupulous and willful? Such people only think of their own interests, they only consider their own feelings, all they want is to achieve their own desires, ambitions, and aims. They don’t care how much damage they cause to the work of the church, and they would prefer to sacrifice the interests of the house of God to protect their status in people’s minds and their own reputation. Are people like this not arrogant and self-righteous, selfish and vile? Such people are not only arrogant and self-righteous, they are also extremely selfish and vile. They are not mindful of God’s will at all. Do such people have any fear of God? They do not have the slightest fear of God. This is why they act wantonly and do whatever they want, without any sense of blame, without any trepidation, without any apprehension or worry, and without considering the consequences. This is what they often do, and how they have always behaved. What is the nature of such behavior? To put it lightly, such people are far too jealous and have too strong a desire for personal fame and status; they are too deceitful and treacherous. To put it more harshly, the essence of the problem is that such people’s hearts are not even the slightest bit God-fearing. They do not fear God, they believe themselves to be of utmost importance, and they regard every aspect of themselves as being higher than God and higher than the truth. In their hearts, God is not worthy of mention and insignificant, and God does not have any status in their hearts at all. Can those who have no place for God in their hearts, and who do not revere God, put the truth into practice? Absolutely not. So, when they typically go around merrily keeping themselves busy and exerting quite a lot of energy, what are they doing? Such people even claim to have abandoned everything to expend for God and suffered a great deal, but actually, the motive, principle, and objective of all their actions are for the sake of their own status and prestige, of protecting all of their interests. Would you or would you not say that this sort of person is terrible? What kind of people have believed in God for many years, yet have no fear of God? Are they not arrogant? Are they not Satan? And what things most lack the fear of God? Apart from animals, it is the wicked and the antichrists, the ilk of the devils and Satan. They don’t accept the truth at all; they are bereft of the fear of God. They are capable of any evil; they are the enemies of God, and the enemies of His chosen ones” (“The Five Conditions That Must Be Met to Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading God’s words felt like God was face-to-face with me, judging me. I thought that as a years-long leader, I should be better than others, on a higher level, so I was jealous of and excluded anyone more able than me. I knew those two sisters had caliber and a burden for their duty, and they got results. That was good for the church’s work and for brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. But I didn’t consider any of that—I just cared about my own name and status. I silently did battle with them, looking for mistakes and oversights in their work, upsetting them, making them look bad, leaving them in a bad state and no longer with a burden in their duty. The church’s work was also harmed. To maintain my own status, I was jealous of those more talented and made sisters who could do real work depressed. That was disrupting the church’s work and harming the interests of God’s house. I didn’t have any humanity and was revealing a satanic disposition. Satan can’t stand to see people doing well, but is dying to see them depressed and betraying God. I was fully acting as Satan’s minion, doing evil and opposing God. As a church leader, I should consider God’s will and cultivate more talented people for the church. But instead, not only did I fail to cultivate talented people, but I was jealous and oppressive. How was that doing a duty? I was just doing evil and opposing God! I really hated myself—I felt like I wasn’t even human and didn’t deserve to live.
One day, I opened up to a sister and fellowshiped on my jealousy. She heard me out, then shared with me the example of Saul’s jealousy of David. She said, “When Saul saw that God used David to win wars and the Israelites all supported him, he became jealous of David and went after him to kill him. He ended up inciting God’s anger and was destroyed by God.” Hearing this sent a shiver through me. I thought about all of my recent behavior. Seeing those two sisters get results in their duty, I became jealous of them and held them back at every turn. That wasn’t not getting along with people, but was going against God. Wasn’t that just like Saul? Seeing it this way was pretty scary, and I realized it was God’s timely discipline that stopped me in my evil tracks. If I kept on that way, the consequences would be unthinkable. Later, I considered that over and over. Why, knowing full well that God doesn’t like jealousy, could I not keep myself from sidelining others? I read a passage of God’s words. “One of the most obvious characteristics of the essence of an antichrist is that they are like despots running their own dictatorship: They do not listen to anyone, they look down on everyone, and regardless of people’s strengths, or what they say and do, or what insights and opinions they have, they pay no heed; it is as if no one is qualified to work with them, or to take part in anything they do. That is the kind of disposition of an antichrist. Some people say this is being of poor humanity—how could it just be commonplace poor humanity? This is entirely a satanic disposition; this kind of disposition is supremely fierce. Why do I say that their disposition is supremely fierce? Antichrists think of the interests of the house of God and the church as entirely their own, as their personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. The only things they think about when doing the work of the church are their own interests, their own status and image. They do not allow anyone to harm their interests, much less do they let anyone who has caliber, and is able to speak of their experiences and testimony, threaten their status and prestige. … When someone distinguishes themselves with a little work, when someone is able to talk of true experiences and testimony in order to benefit, edify, and support the chosen ones, and earns great praise from everyone, envy and hate grows in the hearts of the antichrists, they try to alienate and undermine them, and under no circumstances do they allow such people to undertake any work, in order to prevent them from threatening their status. … The antichrists think to themselves, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put up with this. You want to have a role within my domain, to compete with me. That’s impossible, don’t even think about it. You’re more capable than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, and more popular than me. You want me to work alongside you? What would I do if you stole my thunder?’ Are they considering the interests of the house of God? No. What are they thinking about? They think only of how to hold on to their own status. Though they know themselves to be incapable of doing real work, they do not nurture or promote people of good caliber who pursue the truth; the only ones they promote are the people who flatter them, people who are apt to worship others, who praise and admire them in their hearts, people who are smooth operators, who have no understanding of the truth and are incapable of differentiation” (“Item Eight: They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). God exposes antichrists as not remotely considering the work of God’s house and wanting all the power. They get the church under their control and won’t let anyone else get involved. They exclude and oppress anyone who poses a threat to their status, and really work to cover up others’ strengths and advantages. I was acting just like an antichrist. To solidify my status, I wanted a monopoly on power and to be the only one with final say in the church, upholding “There can only be one alpha male,” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” I wouldn’t let anyone surpass me. I treated those sisters like competitors, leaping on chances to lash out at them, reveling in their mistakes. I had such a vicious disposition and I was on an antichrist’s path. If I didn’t repent and change, wouldn’t I end up like them? At that point I saw that without God’s discipline, and His words’ judgment and revelations, I never would have seen how serious the nature of my actions was. For a while, I felt a lot of regret and guilt, and really hated myself. I regretted not treasuring the chance to do my duty before, and felt really indebted to God.
I read more of God’s words after that. “To be a church leader is not merely to learn to use the truth to resolve problems, but also to discover and cultivate people of talent, whom you absolutely must not envy or suppress. Practicing in this way is beneficial to the work of the church. If you can cultivate a few pursuers of the truth to cooperate well with you in all the work you do, and in the end, all of you have experiential testimonies, then you will be a qualified leader. If you grow able to act in all things according to the principles, you will then be living up to your loyalty. … If you are truly capable of being considerate of God’s will, then you will be able to treat other people fairly. If you recommend a good person and let them undergo training and perform a duty, thereby adding a person of talent to God’s house, will your work not then be easier to do? Will you not then have lived up to your loyalty in this duty? This is a good deed before God; it is the minimum of conscience and sense of which one who is a leader should be possessed” (“In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s words, I learned that leaders and workers have to focus on discovering and training talented people. Suppressing them and being jealous of them for the sake of their own interests disgusts God. With my regrets from my previous cooperation with those sisters in mind, I resolved that no matter who I worked with in the future, I’d put the interests of God’s house first and immediately recommend any talent I discovered, fulfilling my responsibility to the commission God had given me. In a later gathering, I revealed and dissected my corruption to the others, and I constantly reminded myself when working with others not to do anything to interfere with the church’s work. After some time, my health improved and I started doing video production in the church.
Before long, the church arranged for me to give another sister some skills training. She had good caliber and was a quick study. I thought, “If she gets good at it, will she take my place? Will the leader look down on me if she sees I’m a slower learner than that sister?” At those thoughts, I didn’t want to put my heart into training her. Then I realized I wasn’t in the right state, so I rushed to say a prayer, asking God to watch over my heart. I remembered something God says: “You should first consider the interests of God’s house, be considerate of God’s will, and consider the work of the church, and put these things first and foremost; only after that can you think about the stability of your status or how others see you” (“In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). At this thought, I forsook my incorrect thinking and did my best to train her, and she could do her duty on her own just a few days later. Working together, our efficiency in our duty also improved a bit. I personally experienced that harmonious cooperation brings deep freedom and peace. It brings God’s blessings. This change in me has been entirely achieved by God’s work. Thank God!