A Duty Isn’t a Bargaining Chip for Blessings
By Xiaochen, China
I have always been prone to illness. I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at the age of 11, so my immune system is very poor, my body is weak, my limbs are weak, and even walking a few steps is tiring. When my condition is serious, I am basically bedridden. My doctor said that when my condition was serious, I could be infected due to poor immunity, which would result in high fever, and if I was injured, my bleeding might not stop, which could be life-threatening. After I accepted’s work in the last days, my condition improved, and I also performed a duty in the church. Many years passed, and I didn’t experience any symptoms of my illness. I saw that this was God’s blessing, and I was very grateful to God.
Later, I began doing video production work for God’s house. When I thought of how these films and videos were testifying God’s work, I felt that doing this work was especially meaningful. At the same time, I thought that if I worked hard to expend for God and made good videos that testify God, I would have a share in these critical good deeds, so not only would I gain God’s protection and blessings, surely I would be saved by God and survive the great disaster. Thinking of these things made me work even harder on my professional skills and principles and strive to produce more works that testify God. Every time a finished video came out and I saw a clip that I helped produce, my heart was full of joy, and I felt even more motivation to do my duty. To achieve even better results, I proactively looked up information and learned related skills and discussed things with my brothers and sisters. Sometimes the talks went to three o’clock in the morning, and I was already weak, so staying up so late was a bit too much for my body. But on second thought, I hadn’t had any problems with my body over the years, and staying up late to study was to better perform my duty. I had also been somewhat productive in my duty, so I was sure that God would protect me. As long as I did my duty, achieved more, and made contributions, I had a great hope of salvation. Even if I suffered more now, it was worth it.
One day, my supervisor told me, “Brother, we understand your physical state isn’t very good. Our workload is heavy now, and we worry that if you continue, your condition might relapse. Why don’t you go to the hospital for a checkup? If everything is normal, you can continue to do your duty here. If your health isn’t very good, you can go home to recuperate, and do what you can while you undergo treatment.” But at the time, I couldn’t submit, and I couldn’t calm my heart. I thought, “This is a critical time in our duty, and my brothers and sisters are actively doing their duties to accrue good deeds. If there is something wrong with my body at this time, I won’t be able to accrue good deeds in this important duty, and I won’t get good works and results. When God’s work is over, what will I offer to God? Won’t I be cast out by God in the end and fall into calamity?” I also thought that I had produced some works in the past few years, so if I went home to recuperate due to illness and couldn’t continue in this duty, wouldn’t I be forfeiting the price I paid over the past few years? I saw that my partner brothers were in good health, had no such worries, and could do their duty with peace of mind, but I was about to lose everything. The more I thought, the more negative I felt. My future seemed bleak, and I lost interest in my duty. Later, I prayed to God, “God! I’m so sad and negative, and I have many complaints and misunderstandings. I can’t get myself out of this state. Please enlighten me, so that I understand Your will and my corrupt disposition, and submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements.”
After that, I read these words of God, “These days, most people are in this sort of state: ‘In order to gain blessings, I must expend myself for God and pay a price for Him. In order to gain blessings, I must abandon everything for God; I must complete what He has entrusted me with, and perform my duty well.’ This is dominated by the intention to gain blessings, which is an example of expending oneself entirely for the purpose of obtaining rewards from God and gaining a crown. Such people do not have the truth in their hearts, and surely their understanding merely consists of a few words of doctrine which they show off everywhere they go. Theirs is the path of Paul. The faith of such people is an act of constant toil, and deep down they feel that the more they do, the more it will prove their loyalty to God; that the more they do, the more He will certainly be satisfied; and that the more they do, the more they will deserve to be granted a crown before God, and will certainly receive the greatest blessings in His house. They think that if they can endure suffering, preach, and die for Christ, if they can sacrifice their own lives, and if they can complete all of the duties with which God has entrusted them, then they will be among God’s most blessed—those who gain the greatest blessings—and will then be certain to be granted crowns. This is precisely what Paul imagined and what he sought; it is the exact path that he walked, and it was under the guidance of such thoughts that he worked to serve God. Do those thoughts and intentions not originate from a satanic nature? It is just like worldly humans, who believe that while on earth they must pursue knowledge, and that only after obtaining it can they stand out from the crowd, become officials, and have status; they think that once they have status, they can realize their ambitions and bring their homes and businesses up to certain level of prosperity. Do not all unbelievers walk this path? Those who are dominated by this satanic nature can only be like Paul in their faith. They think: ‘I must cast off everything to expend myself for God; I must be faithful before Him, and eventually, I will definitely receive the most magnificent crown and the greatest blessings.’ This is the same attitude as that of worldly people who pursue worldly things; they are no different at all, and are subject to the same nature. When people have this sort of satanic nature, out in the world, they will seek to obtain knowledge, learning, status, and to stand out from the crowd; if they believe in God, they will seek to obtain great crowns and great blessings. If people do not pursue the truth when they believe in God, they are sure to take this path; this is an immutable fact, it is a natural law. The path that people who do not pursue the truth take is diametrically opposed to that of Peter” (“How to Walk the Path of Peter” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word revealed my state precisely. I thought enduring hardship and paying a price in my duty to make qualified videos, so that I could contribute my share to the work of spreading the kingdom gospel ensured that I would be praised and blessed by God, and in the end, I would be rewarded and saved by God. To achieve this goal, I stayed up all night without complaining about how much I suffered, but when I likely couldn’t continue the work for physical reasons, I saw my desire to be blessed shattered, so my will to perform my duty was gone, and I didn’t want to expend anything. I saw that I had always tried to transact in my belief in God. I pursued being used in important roles and producing works as a means to ask for grace and blessings from God. I always said I was willing to suffer and expend, but it was only for the purpose of gaining blessings. I was deceiving God, using God. My intentions were despicable! Thinking of this, I realized I could no longer resist this environment. I had to submit, seek the truth, and resolve the impurities in my belief in God and corrupt dispositions.
After that, I went to the hospital for an exam. There were various blood indicators that were lower than in normal people, and my platelet count was much lower than normal. The doctor said I could easily suffer heavy bleeding if I didn’t take proper care. My supervisor, brothers, and sisters suggested I go home for a while and continue my duty after I recovered. After that, I went home to finish treatment, and went for a review every once in a while. A few months passed, but my health didn’t improve, so I got a little anxious and went to an old TCM doctor to get medicine. The old doctor said, “Your recovery will be a slow process. Your condition is serious, and it will take a long time to get better.” I was very disappointed after hearing what the doctor said. I’d thought, after I went home and recuperated, I could return to video work once my condition improved. But I had been in treatment for almost a year. Why wasn’t I getting better? That year, God’s house produced many movies and videos, but I couldn’t take part in the production of these videos due to physical reasons. I feared I wouldn’t be able to perform this duty again in the future. Without enough good deeds, could I still be saved when God’s work ended? The more I thought, the more negative I felt. On the way home, I saw the leaves blowing in the wind, and I felt that like these fallen leaves, there was no hope for me. I felt extremely helpless and desolate, and I couldn’t help but complain. Why did I have this disease when my other brothers and sisters were healthy? If I muddled through my duty, and caused disruption and disturbance or became ineffective, and therefore couldn’t do my duty, I could turn things around by repenting and changing. But poor health is a congenital condition, and it isn’t something I can change by hard work. When I thought of this, I felt as if I was abandoned by God, which made me feel especially aggrieved and miserable. When I got home, I was like a deflated ball, and nothing could lift my spirits. I thought, “My disease is like this. There’s nothing that can change it. If I can’t take part in important work, what hope is there to be saved?” I started to completely let myself go. Every day, I passed the time watching secular movies and TV and chatting with people online. My relationship with God grew distant, and my spirit grew darker and emptier. One day, I suddenly realized, “Isn’t my state the same as an unbeliever? How is this anything like a believer in God? I’m nothing but a nonbeliever! If I continue to be so decadent, I will only become more and more depraved, and eventually God will cast me out.” With this in mind, I felt a little afraid. I knew I couldn’t go on like this anymore. I had to reflect on myself and seek the truth to solve my problems.
After that, I read a passage of God’s word. “Nothing is more rebellious than when people do not accept the truth. And nothing is more dangerous for them. If these people are perennially incapable of accepting the truth, then they are nonbelievers—and once such people’s hopes of being blessed are shattered, they will stray from God. What is the reason for this? (What they pursue is being blessed and the enjoyment of God’s graces.) They believe in God but do not pursue the truth; to them, salvation is but an ornament, it is nothing but nice-sounding words. What they pursue in their hearts is being rewarded, being crowned, receiving benefits, they wish to receive a hundredfold in this life, and eternal life in the age to come, and if they do not receive these things, they cease to believe, their true face is exposed, and they stray from God. In their hearts, what they believe in is not the work of God, nor the truths expressed by God. What they pursue is not salvation, much less performing the duty of a creature of God; instead, they are no different from Paul: They wish for great blessings, to hold great power, to wear a great crown, to be on an equal footing with God—these are their ambitions and desires. And so, whenever certain benefits or advantages can be gained from the house of God, they jockey for them, and start talking about ‘seniority.’ What they’re thinking to themselves is, ‘I am entitled to this, I should have my share, I must fight for this.’ Thinking this puts their hearts at ease. They place themselves among the upper ranks of God’s house, and so believe such benefits to be their due. … It is clear that their hearts have already been taken over by these things that they pursue, and it is also clear that what they ordinarily pursue has absolutely no consonance with the truth. No matter how much work they do, their aims and motives are just like Paul’s: They wish to receive the crown, and they will tightly clutch their aims and motives, and never let them go. No matter how the truth is fellowshiped to them, no matter how they are dealt with and pruned, no matter how they are exposed and dissected, they will doggedly refuse to relinquish their motives to be blessed. And when they do not receive God’s approval, when they see their hopes of being blessed shattered, they become negative and regressive, they abandon their duty, and take to their heels. They do not truly perform their duty in spreading the gospel of the kingdom, nor have they given good service, which entirely demonstrates that they lack true faith in God, and that they are without true obedience, and that they are devoid of real experiences or testimony, that they are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing; ultimately, a dyed-in-the-wool nonbeliever is thus utterly laid bare and cast out, their faith in God finally comes to an end” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Five)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s word completely revealed the despicable intentions within me. Although I agreed to go home to recuperate, in my heart, I still hoped to recover quickly and continue making videos. When I didn’t get my desired results after repeated treatments, I felt there was no hope of fulfilling an important duty anymore, my desire to obtain blessings was ruined, and there was no motivation to believe in God. I felt lost, off balance, and thought God was unfair to me, so I started to let myself go. I didn’t want to readanymore, and I didn’t want to pray to God. I even vented my dissatisfaction with God by pursuing worldly trends. I believed in God and did my duty only to gain blessings. Once I couldn’t get blessings, I became hostile to God. All I displayed was Satan’s evil disposition, and I had no conscience and no sense at all. This proved that all my previous expending was false and meant to deceive God. In all my years of belief in God, God provided me with so much truth and gave me so much grace. Without God’s protection, I would have died long ago, but not only did I not thank and repay God, I complained that God was unfair to me for not giving me a good body. I was completely unreasonable and lacked all humanity!
Thinking of this made me feel remorse and hatred for myself. I wanted to truly resolve my own motives to gain blessings and stop disobeying God, so I prayed to God to seek and then I read this passage of God’s word. “Since being blessed is not a legitimate goal for people to pursue, what is a legitimate goal? The pursuit of the truth, the pursuit of changes in disposition, and being able to obey all of God’s orchestrations and arrangements: these are the goals that people should pursue. Say, for example, being pruned and dealt with causes you to have notions and misconceptions, and you become incapable of obedience. Why can’t you obey? Because you feel that your destination or your dream of being blessed has been challenged. You become negative and upset, and try to get out of doing your duty. What is the reason for this? There is a problem with your pursuit. So how should this be solved? It is imperative that you immediately abandon these mistaken ideas, and that you immediately seek the truth to solve the problem of your corrupt disposition. You should say to yourself, ‘I must not quit, I must still do the duty that a creature of God ought to, and put aside my desire to be blessed.’ When you relinquish the desire to be blessed, a weight is lifted off your shoulders. And are you still capable of negativity? Even though there are still times when you are negative, you don’t let this control you, and in your heart, you keep praying and fighting, changing the goal of your pursuit from the pursuit of being blessed and having a destination, to the pursuit of the truth, and you think to yourself, ‘The pursuit of the truth is the duty of a creature of God. To understand certain truths today—there is no greater harvest, this is the greatest blessing of all. Even if God does not want me, and I do not have a good destination, and my hopes of being blessed are shattered, I shall still do my duty properly, I am obligated to. Whatever the reason, it will not impact my performance of my duty, it will not affect my accomplishment of God’s commission; this is the principle by which I conduct myself.’ And in this, have you not transcended the shackles of the flesh?” (“Only in the Pursuit of the Truth Is There Life Entry” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). At that time, through reading God’s word, I understood why I complained, became negative, and lost control of myself when my desire to gain blessings was ruined. The root of the problem was my incorrect view of pursuit. What I pursued was blessings and a good destination, so I was always constrained by my future and fate. The moment my desire for blessings was ruined, I became too passive to go on. My desire for blessings was simply too strong. I am a created being. No matter whether I receive blessings and have a good destination, I have to do my duty all the same. Even if I don’t gain blessings, if I fulfill my responsibilities and duty, at least I won’t have any regrets. Thinking of this, my heart brightened. I had to practice by the path pointed out in God’s word, let go of my desire for blessings, change my mistaken views of pursuit, and do my duty to the best of my ability. Also, even if my condition got worse one day, I couldn’t blame God. This is the reason that a created being should possess. I realized that if I couldn’t do other duties, I could practice writing articles at home, write out my own experiences and knowledge, and share with my brothers and sisters at meetings. That way, I was also testifying God and performing my duty. After practicing like this, I felt very relieved, and not so constrained by my fate and future.
A year later, I went to the hospital to get medicine, and the doctor said, “Your illness is cured. You don’t need to take medicine anymore. You just need to pay more attention to your body and don’t tire yourself out.” When I heard the doctor say that, I was very excited, and I couldn’t stop thanking God. To change and purify me, God had arranged so many people and things for me to experience. Thinking of this, I felt even more unworthy of God’s salvation. Afterwards, I read another passage of God’s words, “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in). Exactly. God determines people’s outcome based on whether they have the truth, and those who don’t gain the truth in the end cannot be saved. If I don’t pursue the truth or dispositional change, then no matter how much I expend or contribute, in the end, if my corrupt dispositions are not purified, I can’t be saved. Despite this, I still wanted to deceive God into giving me blessings through hard work. Isn’t this nonsense? This was nothing but my wishful thinking. This time, it outwardly seemed I lost the chance to perform my duty because of illness, but through my sickness, my mistaken views and corrupt disposition were revealed, which allowed me to change things in time and start focusing on pursuing the truth. This was God’s great protection for me. Thinking of this, I felt a great sense of remorse and indebtedness, so I knelt down before God and prayed, “God! I wish to reverse my fallacious views of pursuit. I don’t want to pursue blessings and rewards anymore. No matter what duty I do in the future, I wish to pursue the truth, pursue dispositional change, and fulfill my duty to satisfy You.”
Next, I read some of God’s word, and my heart became a little brighter about how to deal with my duty. God’s words say, “To perform your duty adequately, it does not matter how many years you have believed in God, how much you have done in your duty, nor how many contributions you have made to God’s house, much less does it matter how experienced you are in your duty. The main thing God looks at is the path a person takes. In other words, He looks at one’s attitude toward the truth and the principles, direction, origin, and impetus behind one’s actions. God focuses on these things; they are what determine the path you walk” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Man thinks that all those who make a contribution to God should receive a reward, and that the greater the contribution, the more it is taken for granted that they should receive God’s favor. The essence of man’s viewpoint is transactional, and he does not actively seek to perform his duty as a creature of God. For God, the more that people seek a true love for God and complete obedience to God, which also means seeking to perform their duty as a creature of God, the more they are able to gain God’s approval. God’s viewpoint is to demand that man recover his original duty and status. Man is a creature of God, and so man should not overstep himself by making any demands of God, and should do nothing more than perform his duty as a creature of God. The destinations of Paul and Peter were measured according to whether they could perform their duty as creatures of God, and not according to the size of their contribution; their destinations were determined according to that which they sought from the beginning, not according to how much work they did, or other people’s estimation of them. And so, seeking to actively perform one’s duty as a creature of God is the path to success; seeking the path of the true love for God is the most correct path; seeking changes in one’s old disposition, and seeking the pure love for God, is the path to success. Such a path to success is the path of the recovery of the original duty as well as the original appearance of a creature of God. It is the path of recovery, and it is also the aim of all of God’s work from beginning to end” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading God’s words, I understood in God’s house, there really is no high or low in the duties. Whether people can be saved doesn’t depend on what duty they do, how great their work, or what they achieve. As long as you pursue the truth, actively fulfill the duty of a created being, and achieve a change in your disposition, you can gain the truth and be saved by God. Pursuing being effective in your duty and contributing to God’s house is not wrong in itself. As long as your intention is to testify God, and you are able to seek the truth and act according to principles in your duty, you can gain God’s approval. Doing a duty is not a tool for profit, nor is it a bargaining chip for rewards, it is the responsibility of a created being. No matter whether I am blessed or not, I will fulfill my duty. After that, God’s house arranged an appropriate duty for me based on my physical condition.
Now, I am less constrained by my future and destiny, and no matter what duty I perform, I know that gaining the truth is the most important thing. Regardless of whether I have a good ending in the future, if I can fulfill my responsibilities in my duty, I feel at ease and at peace. Thank God!