Fellowship Must Be Openhearted
By Ye Julia, Poland
At the beginning of 2021, I accepted the work ofin the last days. I actively attended meetings and read God’s word, and after more than two months, I began my duty as the watering deacon. At that time, we had a deacon meeting every weekend to discuss the problems and difficulties we encountered in our duties and fellowship on what we gained, what corruption we exposed, and how we reflected and understood it through God’s word. Before every meeting, I was very nervous and would think for a long time, because I didn’t know what to say to them. I worried about speaking out about my corruption and shortcomings, because I feared the others would have a bad opinion of me. For example: I had just started watering newcomers. I didn’t know many things, and I lacked experience. I worried that the newcomers wouldn’t like me and would think I couldn’t water them well, so I didn’t want this duty anymore. But I didn’t want to open up about my state at the deacon meeting, because I worried that if I did, they would think I lacked the ability to fellowship with others. Also, I was impatient with some newcomers, and I didn’t want to say it, because I worried if I told them, they would think I had bad humanity. But I was also anxious, because if I didn’t say anything at the meeting, they would certainly think I was less capable than others. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or make them look down on me. After thinking about it, I finally decided just to say something irrelevant and not too embarrassing, such as that I was lazy, which is a problem most people have. That way, I wouldn’t appear inferior to others.
And so, at the meeting, the leader asked about my experiences during this time, and what knowledge I gained of my corrupt dispositions, and I fellowshiped as I had planned. When I finished, I breathed a sigh of relief, but I felt uneasy, and my conscience rebuked me. I knew I hadn’t told the truth, and that what I did went against God’s will. I thought of the’ words, “Let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). “Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Thinking of these words, I felt very guilty. Lies come from Satan, and are evil. God loves honest people, and only honest people can enter the kingdom of heaven. Liars and hypocrites cannot enter God’s kingdom. Such people are hated by God, and they will definitely be eliminated by God in the end. When I realized this, I was very upset, and I was afraid of being rejected by God. I prayed to God and asked Him to guide me in being an honest person. I made up my mind to tell the truth at the next meeting and open up about my corruption. But when the time came, I still didn’t have the courage to say it. I was worried that if I spoke about my corruption and shortcomings, my brothers and sisters would think that I am more corrupt than them. I felt like it was too hard to tell the truth. Thinking of this, I didn’t want to attend the deacon meetings. But I was worried my brothers and sisters would ask me why I didn’t come, and then I would have no idea what to say. The more I thought, the more conflicted and miserable I felt. I didn’t know what to do. At one meeting, the brothers and sisters fellowshiped on their experiences and knowledge as usual, and I didn’t know what to say at all, so I just listened silently. I was disappointed in myself, I always disguised myself and failed to practice the truth time and again. I couldn’t even speak an honest word. I felt miserable, so I prayed to God, asking Him to lead me out of this state.
Later, I read this passage of God’s word, “You must seek the truth to resolve any problem that arises, no matter what it is, and by no means disguise yourself or put on a false face for others. Your shortcomings, your deficiencies, your faults, your corrupt dispositions—be completely open about them all, and fellowship about them all. Do not keep them inside. Learning how to open yourselves up is the first step toward entering the truth, and it is the first hurdle, which is the most difficult to overcome. Once you have overcome it, entering the truth is easy. What does taking this step signify? It means that you are opening your heart and showing everything you have, good or bad, positive or negative; baring yourself for others and for God to see; hiding nothing from God, concealing nothing, disguising nothing, free of deceit and trickery, and being likewise open and honest with other people. In this way, you live in the light, and not only will God scrutinize you, but other people, too, will also be able to see that you act with principle and a degree of transparency. You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will not be tired at all, and you will live entirely in the light” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I understood from God’s word that we should never cover up for our own corrupt states. We should bring them before God and pray, reflect, try to understand, as well as open our hearts to expose our corruption to our brothers and sisters to seek the truth. This will help us better understand ourselves and resolve our corrupt dispositions. But, to maintain my face and status, I was unwilling to open up about my corruption and difficulties, nor did I want to seek the truth with my brothers and sisters. I always kept my heart closed so that no one could see through me, but I found no release living in the dark. I realized I couldn’t go on like this anymore, and that I should practice according to the word of God, open up about my state to my brothers and sisters, and seek their help. Just after the meeting ended, a sister approached me to talk about her recent experience. I thought this was a chance to open up to her, but I was still a little embarrassed, because I didn’t know what she would think of me. I worried she would say I was a very dishonest person. So, I prayed to God, “God, I don’t want to conceal myself anymore. I don’t want to hide my true thoughts anymore. I’m very tired. God, I want to be an honest person, so please guide me.” After I prayed, I told my sister all the things I didn’t dare open up about in the meeting. After I finished speaking, I felt very relieved. The sister shared her understanding with me, and sent me a passage of. “The main characteristic of a deceitful person is that they never open their heart to fellowship with anyone, and they do not speak their heart even to their best friend. They are extraordinarily inscrutable. Such a person may not necessarily be old, nor deeply involved in worldly matters, and may even have little experience, yet they are inscrutable. Is this not a deceitful person by nature? They hide themselves so deeply that no one can see through them. No matter how many words they speak, it is difficult to tell which are true and which are false, and no one knows when they are telling the truth or when they are lying. In addition, they are especially skilled at disguise and sophistry. They often hide the truth by giving people false impressions, so that all people see is their false appearance. They disguise themselves as a lofty, good, virtuous, and guileless person, as a person who is liked and approved of, and in the end, everyone admires them and looks up to them. No matter how long you spend with such a person, you never know what they are thinking. Their views and attitudes toward all manner of people, matters, and things are hidden in their heart. They never tell these things to anyone. They never fellowship on these things even to their closest confidante. When they pray to God, they may not even confide what is in their heart or what they really think. Not only that, they try to disguise themselves as a person with humanity, who is very spiritual and dedicated to pursuing the truth. No one can see what kind of disposition they have and what kind of person they are. This is the characteristic of a deceitful person” (“They Do Not Believe in the Existence of God, and They Deny the Essence of Christ (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). From God’s word, I realized deceitful people don’t speak from the heart with others, nor do they open up about their true state with others. Instead, they often conceal and disguise themselves. I saw that I was exactly as God revealed. Since becoming a watering deacon, I saw that I had many deficiencies, and that I also exposed many corrupt dispositions, and I had no love and patience for newcomers. I needed to open my heart and seek solutions to these problems with my brothers and sisters. But I worried that if I told the truth, they would look down on me and find me inferior, so I didn’t want to tell them my real state. I avoided the important things and told them things that didn’t matter, or problems I felt many people had. I did this to hide my dark side and my innermost thoughts. To make others have a good opinion of me, I disguised myself and gave a false impression. I was deceiving my brothers and sisters. I was so cunning and hypocritical!
Later, my sister sent me another passage of God’s words, “In fact, people all know why they tell lies: It is for the sake of their interests, face, vanity, and status. And in comparing themselves with others, they punch too far above their own weight. As a result, their lies are exposed and seen through by others, resulting instead in lost face, lost character, and lost dignity. This is the result of too many lies. When you lie too much, every word you say is contaminated. It is all false, and none of it can be true or factual. Although you may not lose face when you lie, you already feel disgraced inside. You will feel blamed by your conscience, and you will despise and look down on yourself. ‘Why do I live so pitifully? Is it really so hard to say one honest thing? Do I need to tell these lies just for face? Why is it so tiring to live this way?’ You can live in a way that is not tiring. If you practice being an honest person, you can live easily and freely, but when you choose to lie to protect your face and vanity, your life is very tiring and painful, which means this is self-inflicted pain. What is the face you gain from telling lies? It is something empty, something totally worthless. When you lie, you are betraying your own character and dignity. These lies cost people their dignity, they cost them their character, and God finds them displeasing and hateful. Are they worth it? Not at all. … If you are someone who loves the truth, then you can endure all kinds of suffering to practice the truth, and you won’t care if you lose your reputation, status, character or dignity. And you’ll be content with nothing more than to practice the truth and satisfy God. For those who love the truth, their choice is to practice the truth, to be honest people. This is the correct path, and blessed by God. For those who do not love the truth, what do they choose to do? They use lies to defend their reputation, status, dignity, and character. Such people would rather be deceitful people and be hated and rejected by God. They do not want the truth or God. What they choose is their own reputation and status. They want to be deceitful people, and they don’t care whether it pleases God or whether God saves them, so can such people still be saved by God? Certainly not, because they take the wrong path. They can only live by lying and cheating, and they can only live a painful life of telling lies and covering them up and racking their brains to defend themselves every day. You may think that using lies can protect your desired reputation, status, vanity and face, but this is a big mistake. Lies not only fail to protect your vanity and personal dignity, but also cause you to miss chances to practice the truth and be an honest person. Even if you defend your reputation and vanity at the time, what you lose is the truth, and you betray God, which means you completely lose the opportunity to gain God’s salvation and be perfected. This is the greatest loss and an eternal regret. Deceitful people never see this clearly” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s word, I reflected on myself. To maintain my face and status and avoid being looked down on by others, before every meeting, I racked my brains to figure out how to fellowship during the meeting. If I opened up about my real state, I feared my brothers and sisters would have a bad impression of me. But if I said nothing, I also worried my brothers and sisters would think I was bad and look down on me, In desperation, I wanted to escape this situation. I saw that to maintain my face and status, I was racking my brain and making myself miserable, yet I still didn’t want to open up, be an honest person, and tell my brothers and sisters my real state and difficulties. I was so deceitful and wicked! Although I maintained my image in people’s hearts for a while, I lost my dignity, my chance to be an honest person, and my chance to seek the truth. I felt so tired at each meeting, and there was no sense of release at all. I was completely in bondage to my corrupt disposition. Brothers and sisters are meant to eat and drink God’s word at meetings, and fellowship on their experience and knowledge of God’s word. If we have problems or difficulties, we can help each other and learn from each other’s strengths. This way, it’s easier to obtain the work of the Holy Spirit and understand the truth. But at meetings, I always thought about how to fellowship to avoid being looked down on, so people would have a good opinion of me. All of my thoughts were devoted to this. It was too hard and tiring to live this way.
Later, I read another passage of God’s word, “Are you able to open up and say what’s really in your heart when fellowshiping with others? If someone always says what’s truly in their heart, if they never lie or exaggerate, if they’re sincere, and not at all careless or perfunctory while performing their duty, if they can practice the truth they understand, then this person has a hope of gaining the truth. If a person always covers themselves up and conceals their heart so that no one can see them clearly, if they give a false impression to deceive others, then they are in grave danger, very troublesome, and sooner or later, they will be seen through and exposed. You can see from someone’s daily life and their words and actions what their prospects are. If this person is always pretending, always putting on airs, then this person is not someone who accepts the truth, and they will be revealed and cast out sooner or later. … People who never open up, who always hide things, who always pretend to be upright, who are always trying to make others think highly of them, who never want people to know what they’re really thinking and what their true state and their nature are—are these people not stupid? Such people are extremely stupid! What path do they walk? The path of the Pharisees. Are hypocrites in danger or not? They are the people who God hates the most, so do you imagine they are not in danger? All those who are Pharisees walk the road to perdition!” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I understood from God’s words that God wants us to be honest people, speak simply and frankly, not lie or deceive, and even if we expose corruption, we can open up and talk about it, so that others can see our real thoughts. By practicing the truth this way, we won’t feel tired, and we can walk the path of salvation. But for those who always disguise themselves, conceal, cover up, and don’t let others see their state, they walk the wrong path, only become more and more hypocritical, and so can never resolve their corrupt dispositions. This is the road to perdition. I thought of the Pharisees two thousand years ago. They were outwardly pious, and spent their days explaining scripture for others in the synagogues. They also deliberately stood at crossroads and prayed to make people think they loved God. But they didn’t fear God at all, put God above all, or obey God’s commandments. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, they clearly knew His words had authority and power, and came from God, but to keep their status and income, they frantically resisted and condemned God’s work and finally crucified the Lord Jesus. I saw that the Pharisees were pious in appearance, but insidious and cunning in essence. They were skilled at disguise and deception. Everything they did was to deceive and control people, and to cheat people of their esteem and worship. The path they walked was one of resisting God. In the end, they offended God’s disposition and were cursed and punished by God. I reflected on myself. To have a good image in the hearts of others, and to maintain my image and status, I concealed my corruption and only talked about the behaviors others commonly discussed. This not only protected my image, it made people feel that I was opening up. Wasn’t I just as deceitful and wicked as the Pharisees? I was terrified when I realized this. I couldn’t do this anymore. I had to be an honest person according to God’s requirements.
After that, my sister sent me another passage of God’s word. “If you wish to seek the truth, if you wish to bring about a wholesale change in various aspects, such as your wrong motivations, states, or moods, then before all else, you must learn to open up and fellowship. … Do not hold things in, saying, ‘These are my motivations, these are my difficulties, I have a bad state, I’m negative, but I still won’t tell anyone, I’ll just keep it all to myself.’ If you never open up about your own state when you pray, it will become difficult to receive the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and over time you will stop wanting to pray, you will stop wanting to eat and drink God’s word, your state will slip further and further downhill, and turning things around will become hard. And so, no matter what your state is, regardless of whether you are negative, or in difficulty, regardless of your own personal motivations or plans, no matter what you have come to know or realize through examination, you must learn to open up and fellowship, and as you fellowship, the Holy Spirit works. And how does the Holy Spirit work? He enlightens you and allows you to see the severity of the problem, He makes you aware of the root and essence of the problem, then enlightens you to make you understand the truth and the principles of practice little by little, so that you can put the truth into practice, and from there enter into the realities of the truth. This is the effect achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit. When a person can fellowship openly, this means that they have an honest attitude toward the truth. Whether a person is honest, and whether they are an honest person, is measured by their attitude toward the truth and God, as well as whether they can accept the truth and obey God. This is what matters most” (“The Principles of Practice Concerning Submission to God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After I read God’s word, my sister fellowshiped: “If we want to resolve our wrong states, we need to be honest people and open our hearts in fellowship with others. If we always conceal, cover up, and refuse to open up, then we will always be trapped in our wrong states, lose God’s guidance, and fall into darkness. For example, if someone is sick, they will find a doctor or ask someone with experience. That way, they can understand their condition, get the right medicine, and get the disease under control in time. Yet some people, despite knowing they are sick, think it doesn’t matter, and don’t want to discuss their illness. In the end, due to lack of timely treatment, the condition gets worse, or even becomes life-threatening. If we want to resolve our wrong states and difficulties, we need to fellowship openly and be honest people. This is the correct way to practice.” Through the sister’s fellowship on God’s word, I understood that being an honest person and opening up ourselves are very important. I hadn’t believed in God long and didn’t understand the truth. Even though I recognized I had exposed a corrupt disposition, I couldn’t resolve it. I should practice being an honest person, open up about my state, and seek the truth. Only in this way could I gain God’s guidance, and it would also help resolve my corrupt disposition. I had just started watering newcomers, so it was normal that I didn’t understand many things. When I didn’t understand, I should open up to seek with my brothers and sisters. That way, I could master the principles of my duty bit by bit and perform my duty well. After that, I opened up to my sister about my state during this period and my difficulties in my duty. She not only didn’t look down on me, she sent me God’s word and fellowshiped on her experience to help me. With her help, I gained some knowledge of my state and the corruption I exposed, and I felt a great sense of happiness and release. After that, I consciously practiced being an honest person and opening up about my state.
One night, I hosted a group meeting. The leader arranged for a group leader to host with me. This sister understood the truth better than me. During the meeting, she fellowshiped and resolved others’ problems very effectively, and I was a little jealous. I worried what the others would think of me. Would they think I was inferior to her? After the meeting, the leader asked if I had any thoughts to share. I knew I should be an honest person, open up about my corruption to that sister, and seek a solution. So, I told my sister what I had exposed in my heart. She sent me God’s word and told me about her experience. I realized I was jealous of my sister because I valued status, had an arrogant disposition, and wanted to be looked up to. I also realized that to let go of my jealousy, I had to pray to God more, consider the work of God’s house and my duty, and put the interests of God’s house first. This is in line with God’s will. At the same time, I also needed to properly deal with my own shortcomings and deficiencies and learn more from the strengths of others to make up for my shortcomings. That way, I could understand more of the truth. I was very glad to realize this. I truly felt that when I open up to my brothers and sisters, instead of looking down on me, they all help me a lot.
After experiencing it, I feel how important it is to be an honest person. Only by being an honest person and opening up can we receive the work of the Holy Spirit and come to understand the truth. I also see that being an honest person can give us release and freedom, and let us live like humans. Thanks be to God!