Freed From the Burden of Returning Kindness

December 20, 2023

By Zheng Li, China

My father passed away when I was nine, and my mother was left to raise me and my four brothers and sisters in difficult circumstances. My aunt felt bad for us and would often bring us food and other necessities. Whenever she brought anything over, my mother would make sure we all showered her with gratitude, and taught us to never forget the good deeds of others, to gratefully repay kindness received and be thankful people, so that no one would denounce us and call us ungrateful behind our backs. Despite being up against hard times, my mom would always share what little we had with my aunt to repay her kindness. When I was older, I would often hear people say: “Did you see that so-and-so who received assistance when they most needed it repaid that kindness a few years later? Did you see that so-and-so that received help but has no conscience and fails to show gratitude? He is a thankless wretch.” Gradually, I also came to live by this viewpoint, thinking that I had to conduct myself by repaying kindness received, otherwise I would be ungrateful, and would be disdained and looked down on by others. After becoming a believer, despite knowing that I should handle people and things based on God’s words, traditional ideas passed down from generation to generation were rooted deep in my heart, to the point where I lived by these views and violated the principles in my duty, which led me to disrupt the church’s work and be marked for a transgression.

In August 2021, after the church’s cleansing work arrangements were issued, the church began fellowship on the truth of discerning people and my older sister-in-law, Fang Ling, was identified as a nonbeliever. I wasn’t surprised at this at all. Despite being a believer for years, she didn’t pursue the truth and often disrupted church life. During gatherings she would always gossip about others, and then nod off as soon as we started reading God’s words. After reading, she would have nothing to fellowship. When she encountered issues that didn’t accord with her notions, she never sought the truth and never accepted the issues from God. She was always scrutinizing people and things and defending herself. When she was a gathering host, and heard the leader fellowshiping on the disruptive behavior of certain people, she would tell those people what the leader said, which led them to develop biases against the leader and think the leader was giving them a hard time. The leader dissected how she was sowing discord and disrupting and disturbing church life, but she didn’t feel culpable at all and even made all kinds of arguments to defend herself. She said she was just telling the truth and didn’t see how that disrupted church life. During one gathering, we fellowshiped on discernment of my older brother’s wife, Liu Hui; she was exposed as a nonbeliever with evil humanity that should be cleansed from the church immediately. After the meeting, Fang Ling went and told a sister that we were cleansing Liu Hui from the church, and made some negative comments, which disrupted that sister’s state. I hurriedly sought Fang Ling out to fellowship with her, sharing this with her: The church cleanses and expels people based on their overall behavior, God’s house is ruled by the truth and no one person has the final say. Liu Hui was being cleansed, because she had evil humanity, often disrupted church life, and refused to repent even after multiple rounds of fellowship from brothers and sisters. I also exposed how Fang Ling’s behavior spread negativity and death and denied the fact that the truth and righteousness hold authority in the church. To my surprise she tearfully replied: “I know you have the last say in the church and decide who gets expelled.” I felt a bit helpless in the face of her unreasonable troublemaking, and I knew in my heart that Fang Ling didn’t accept the truth and was a nonbeliever. But as I was preparing materials for her cleansing, I hesitated. She and I had accepted God’s last days’ work together, and we had gathered and spread the gospel together for years. Fang Ling was very warm-hearted and would do everything she could to help me when I needed it. In 2013, especially, when my husband fell ill, she would look after him so that I could continue doing my duty. She also helped me with chores and tending to our crops. After my husband passed, I had to deal with all kinds of hardships, and I fell into a state of negativity. It was Fang Ling that came to see me every night, read God’s words with me, and fellowshiped with me on Job’s experiences. With her support and accompaniment, my state slowly improved. In that most trying of times, she not only helped me with everyday practicalities, but also read God’s words to encourage me. I had always remembered how well Fang Ling treated me. If I didn’t repay her kindness and even prepared materials for her cleansing, what would she think of me if she found out? Would she say that I was ungrateful and had no conscience? My brother, his wife, and my sisters had all seen everything that she had done for me these years. Even my neighbors said Fang Ling was closer to me than my actual sisters. As the saying goes, “Lambs kneel to receive milk from their mothers, and crows repay their mothers by feeding them,” even animals know to repay kindness, whereas I couldn’t even show leniency to someone who had helped me. Would they think I was ungrateful and abandon and isolate me? Wouldn’t I then be cast aside by my own family? Realizing all this, I felt extremely anxious and indecisive. Between the church’s cleansing work and Fang Ling, to whom I owed a debt of kindness, I couldn’t decide, and lived in agony and suffering. In the midst of my indecision, I saw this in a sermon from the brother superior: “What kind of people can remain to render service in the church? As long as they do not have evil humanity, are skilled at spreading the gospel and willing to do so, they should be allowed to remain in the church.” I suddenly realized: “Right! Fang Ling doesn’t love or pursue the truth, but she likes to spread the gospel and can achieve some results. Now is a crucial moment for expanding the gospel, if I cite Fang Ling’s ability to spread the gospel as a reason to let her stay in the church, won’t she avoid being cleansed? That way, I can avoid offending Fang Ling, and my brother, his wife and my sisters won’t say I am ungrateful, and I won’t become notorious for being a thankless sister.” Realizing this, I just pushed the work of preparing her cleansing materials to the side.

However, not soon after, some sisters told me that there were two potential gospel recipients that had good caliber and comprehension of God’s words, but Fang Ling lived out such poor humanity that the two potential gospel recipients were put off and stopped listening to sermons. Another sister told me that Fang Ling was disrupting church life and that some people didn’t want to spread the gospel with her…. I was shocked when I heard all this. Fang Ling’s disruption of the gospel work was directly related to my own decision-making! I hurriedly prayed to God repenting and confessing my sins. Afterward, I came across this passage of God’s words: “Some people are exceedingly cavalier in their attitudes toward the Above’s work arrangements. They believe, ‘The Above makes the work arrangements, and we do the work in the church. Some words and affairs can be implemented flexibly. It’s up to us how, specifically, they’re to be done. The Above just speaks and makes the work arrangements; we’re the ones taking practical action. So, after the Above hands the work off to us, we can do it as we like. It’s fine, however it gets done. No one has the right to interfere.’ The principles they act on are as follows: They listen to what they believe is right and ignore what they believe is wrong, they consider their beliefs to be the truth and the principles, they resist whatever does not accord with their will, and they are extremely antagonistic toward you regarding those things. When the Above’s words do not accord with their will, they go ahead and change them, and only pass them down once they meet with their agreement. Without their agreement, they do not permit them to be passed down. While in other areas, the Above’s work arrangements are passed down as they are, these people pass their altered versions of the work arrangements onto the churches under their charge. Such people always wish to put God off to the side; they are eager to get everyone to believe in them, and follow them, and obey them. In their minds, there are some areas in which God does not measure up to them—they ought to be God themselves, and others ought to believe in them. That is the nature of it. … They are purely the lackeys of Satan, and when they work, it is the devil that reigns. They damage God’s management plan and disturb God’s work. They are bona fide antichrists!(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words cut to the quick and exposed how I didn’t carry out work arrangements and acted based on my own will. Work arrangements clearly dictated that leaders and workers should promptly cleanse anyone that had been exposed as an evildoer, nonbeliever or antichrist. As a leader, I should submit and comply unconditionally, and promptly and resolutely carry out the cleansing of all antichrists, evildoers and nonbelievers in the church to ensure that my brothers and sisters were not deceived or disrupted and could enjoy a quiet environment in which to eat and drink God’s words, pursue the truth and fulfill their duty. But even though I clearly knew that Fang Ling was a nonbeliever, I was afraid I would offend her by preparing the materials for her cleansing and would be labeled as ungrateful because she had helped me previously, so I didn’t carry out the work arrangements and pompously defended and protected her on the basis that she could spread the gospel, going against work arrangements. I reflected on myself: “I clearly knew that Fang Ling had been exposed as a nonbeliever, so why was it that I still defended her out of my affection for her, and tried to absolve her of all guilt?” I realized it was because this traditional idea of repaying kindness controlled and fettered me. In order to maintain my image, and not be seen as an ungrateful, thankless wretch, I completely ignored the church’s interests, not bothering to consider what the consequence of leaving Fang Ling in the church would be, and flagrantly violating work arrangements. Not only did I not prepare the materials to apply for Fang Ling’s cleansing, I even assigned her to spread the gospel. The humanity she lived out was so poor that two potential gospel recipients didn’t want to continue investigating. This was all the result of my protecting her. I was violating work arrangements and going my own way, obstructing the church’s cleansing work. I used my authority to defend and protect a nonbeliever who was doing evil in the church, providing the conditions for an evildoer to do evil and acting as Satan’s lackey. I was the very definition of a false leader. I was scared when I realized the evil I had perpetrated, and very regretful. I hurriedly asked everyone to give me their evaluations of Fang Ling. Reading through the evaluations, I realized that she had not only had a negative effect on the gospel work, but had also sown discord and made mischief in the church, spreading negativity, taking unfair advantage of people, and trying to take other people’s things as her own even though she was lacking for nothing herself. Reading through all those evaluations, I felt so incredibly guilty and knew that my protecting Fang Ling was doing evil. I knew I had to stop acting based on my affection and got to work preparing all the materials for Fang Ling’s cleansing. Later on, when I had to get signatures from brothers and sisters, I began to worry again: I would have to get many of my relatives to sign, and given that we had just cleansed Liu Hui and now were moving right on to cleanse Fang Ling, would they say I was being ungrateful and ignore me?

I prayed to God, seeking with regard to my situation, and later came across this passage of God’s words: “In everything you do, you must examine whether your intentions are correct. If you are able to act according to the requirements of God, then your relationship with God is normal. This is the minimum standard. Look into your intentions, and if you find that incorrect intentions have arisen, be able to turn your back on them and act according to the words of God; thus will you become someone who is right before God, which in turn demonstrates that your relationship with God is normal, and that all that you do is for God’s sake, not your own. In all you do and all you say, be able to set your heart right and be righteous in your actions, and do not be led by your emotions, nor act according to your own will. These are principles by which believers in God must conduct themselves. … That is to say, if human beings are able to keep God in their hearts and do not pursue personal gain or give thought to their own prospects (in a fleshly sense), but instead bear the burden of life entry, do their best to pursue the truth, and submit to God’s work—if you can do this, then the goals you pursue will be correct, and your relationship with God will become normal. Making right one’s relationship with God can be called the first step of entry into one’s spiritual journey. Although man’s fate is in God’s hands and is predestined by God, and cannot be changed by man, whether you can be made perfect by God or be gained by Him depends on whether your relationship with God is normal. There may be parts of you that are weak or disobedient—but as long as your views and your intentions are correct, and as long as your relationship with God is right and normal, then you are qualified to be made perfect by God. If you do not have the right relationship with God, and act for the sake of the flesh or your family, then regardless of how hard you work, it will be for nothing. If your relationship with God is normal, then everything else will fall into place. God looks at nothing else, but only at whether your views in your belief in God are correct: whom you believe in, for whose sake you believe, and why you believe. If you are able to see these things clearly and practice with your views well disposed, then you will make progress in your life, and you will also be guaranteed entry onto the right track. If your relationship with God is not normal, and the views of your belief in God are deviant, then all else is in vain, and no matter how hard you believe, you will receive nothing(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How Is Your Relationship With God?). Through reading God’s words I realized that in order to have a normal relationship with other people, I first needed to establish a normal relationship with God. I should always act according to God’s words and bring my actions before Him. If people act by their corrupt dispositions, maintaining their relationships with others for the sake of their reputation, status and fleshly interests, God doesn’t commend this, and no matter how they try to maintain relationships it will all be in vain. Ever since Fang Ling had been outed as a nonbeliever, I had been constrained by my corrupt disposition, fearing that she’d think me ungrateful if she were cleansed, and that my family would think I was thankless and would isolate and abandon me. So, to maintain my image in their eyes, I avoided handling things according to principles. I realized that no matter how good I looked to other people, and how much they held me up, it was useless, because God did not commend it. I was sacrificing the church’s interests to maintain relationships; this offended God’s disposition. I was a believer, so I should act according to God’s words and accept His scrutiny in all things. I had to stop violating work arrangements to maintain relationships, stop being resistant to God, and no matter what kind of attitude they had toward me, even if they abandoned me and ignored me, I had to practice the truth and expose Fang Ling. Fang Ling was a nonbeliever, and often disrupted church life. It was her fault that she was being cleansed, and no one else could be blamed. My brother, his wife and my sisters were believers, I just had to focus on fellowshiping the truth with them and handling affairs according to principles. Later on, when I read a description of Fang Ling’s behavior to them, they didn’t blame me, and even said that it was right for her to be cleansed, that leaving her in the church was a humiliation of God’s name. My brother and his wife even shared some of Fang Ling’s unbelieving behaviors with me. I thanked God that things turned out this way, and also got a sense of how joyful and peaceful it was to practice the truth.

Not soon after, I received the notice for Fang Ling’s cleansing. But when I thought about reading the notice to her, I began to feel hesitant again. I had prepared the materials myself; surely Fang Ling would hate me! How would we continue interacting after that? She was already upset enough about being cleansed; wouldn’t it be adding insult to injury to read her the notice? I thought maybe I could just not read it to her, just tell her some of her lesser evil deeds, and let her know that she had been cleansed. That would make it less awkward for both of us when we saw each other going forward. When I met up with Fang Ling, I saw that she had lost a lot of weight due to the emotional upset of being cleansed. She seemed in really low spirits. I felt awful and almost couldn’t bear to go on, but I just forced myself to read the notice. I even worried about reading the whole thing to her and whether she’d accept it. So, I skipped over the parts that exposed and condemned her. Afterward, whenever I saw her, I always felt a bit awkward, as if I’d done her wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I knew full well that Fang Ling didn’t pursue the truth and caused all kinds of trouble, that it was her own fault she’d been cleansed, so why did I find myself in this state? Later on, I came across two passages of God’s words: “The idea that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid is one of the classic criteria in Chinese traditional culture for judging whether a person’s conduct is moral or immoral. When evaluating whether someone’s humanity is good or bad, and how moral their conduct is, one of the benchmarks is whether they return the favors or help that they receive—whether or not they are someone who gratefully repays the kindness they receive. Within Chinese traditional culture, and within the traditional culture of mankind, people treat this as an important measure of moral conduct. If someone does not understand that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid, and they are ungrateful, then they are considered to be devoid of conscience and unworthy of associating with, and should be despised, spurned or rejected by all. On the other hand, if someone does understand that a kindness received should be gratefully repaid—if they are grateful and return the favors and help they receive with every means at their disposal—they are deemed a person of conscience and humanity. If somebody receives benefits or help from another person, but does not repay them, or just expresses a little gratitude to them with a simple ‘thank you’ and nothing more, what will the other person think? Might they feel uneasy about it? Might they think, ‘That guy doesn’t deserve to be helped, he’s not a good person. If that’s how he responds when I’ve helped him so much, then he has no conscience or humanity, and isn’t worth associating with’? If they ran into this kind of person again, would they still help them? They wouldn’t wish to, at least(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (7)). “From ancient times up until the present day, countless people have been influenced by this idea, view, and criterion of moral conduct regarding the repayment of kindness. Even when the person who bestows kindness on them is an evil or bad person and compels them to do nefarious acts and bad deeds, they still go against their own conscience and reason, blindly complying in order to repay their kindness, with many disastrous consequences. It could be said that many people, having been influenced, fettered, constrained, and bound by this criterion of moral conduct, blindly and mistakenly uphold this view of repaying kindness, and are even likely to aid and abet evil people. Now that you have heard My fellowship, you have a clear picture of this situation and can determine that this is foolish loyalty, and that this behavior counts as comporting oneself without setting any limits, and recklessly repaying kindness without any discernment, and that it lacks meaning and value. Because people fear being castigated by public opinion or condemned by others, they reluctantly devote their lives to repaying the kindness of others, even sacrificing their lives in the process, which is an absurd and foolish way to go about things. This saying from traditional culture has not only fettered people’s thinking, but it has also placed an unnecessary weight and inconvenience upon their life and saddled their families with additional suffering and burdens. Many people have paid great prices in order to repay kindness received—they view repaying kindness as a social responsibility or their own duty and may even spend their whole lives repaying the kindness of others. They believe this to be a perfectly natural and justified thing to do, an unshirkable duty. Is this viewpoint and way of doing things not foolish and absurd? It completely reveals how ignorant and unenlightened people are. In any event, this saying about moral conduct—a kindness received should be gratefully repaid—may be in keeping with people’s notions, but it does not accord with the truth principles. It is incompatible with God’s words and is an incorrect view and way of doing things(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (7)). God’s words were a flawless revelation. Ever since ancient times, a classic measure of people’s humanity has always been whether or not they gratefully repaid kindness received. If someone helped you or was kind to you, you must repay their kindness. If you do so, you’re a good person; if not, you will be abandoned and people will castigate you as a thankless, ungrateful person. Brainwashed and influenced by this idea of gratefully repaying kindness received, people unknowingly live their lives fettered and bound. If someone has helped you in the past, you must repay them, and you need not discern what kind of person they are or what path they walk, and whether it accords with the truth to repay them. Due to this need to repay kindness, some people live their entire lives constrained by others, and there are even some people, who do bad things for other people and are used by them to repay kindness, living lives of misery and suffering. From a young age, my mother taught me to gratefully repay kindness received, that we should never forget the kindness extended to us by others, which may lead to people badmouthing us privately. Most people in my life also used this criterion of conduct to evaluate others’ behavior. I also lived by these aphorisms passed from generation to generation, like “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid,” “Return what you are given tenfold,” and “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring.” If someone helped me, I would always remember and look for a chance to repay them. If I failed to repay someone who had been kind to me, I’d feel guilty, ill at ease, and ashamed to face them. I’d worry that people would say I was an ungrateful person. Because Fang Ling had helped me in the past, even though I had discerned she was a nonbeliever, I worried I’d be castigated if I cleansed her from the church according to principles, so I tried to protect and defend her, to repay her kindness. When I had to read out the description of the evil Fang Ling had done to my brother and sisters, I worried they would say I was ungrateful and so I was scared to confront them. When I had to read the cleansing notice to Fang Ling, and saw how thin and pallid she looked, I couldn’t help but feel guilty and opted to just read a description of her evil deeds. After Fang Ling was cleansed, I didn’t dare come face to face with her. I knew full well that she didn’t pursue the truth and walk the right path and had been cast out, but I always felt I had done her wrong. The help she had given me was like a ball and chain locked to my body, weighing me down to the point of asphyxia. I saw how due to being fettered by this traditional idea, I couldn’t even discern right from wrong, much less could I practice the truth. In order to maintain my reputation, and not be accused of being ungrateful by others, I wantonly repaid kindness without distinguishing good from evil. I didn’t conduct myself with the slightest bit of principle or baseline, and rebelled against and resisted God. I realized that no matter how people may defend, praise and give the thumbs up to my behavior, I was sacrificing the church’s interests, which had left an indelible stain on my tenure as a believer. The consequences of this were quite serious! Through this experience I came to see that traditional culture is a tool by which Satan deceives and corrupts people. Bound up in this flawed idea, I couldn’t practice the truth even though I clearly understood it, rebelling against and resisting God. I no longer wanted to live by satanic philosophies.

Later, I came across another two passages of God’s words: “The traditional cultural concept that ‘A kindness received should be gratefully repaid’ needs to be discerned. The most important part is the word ‘kindness’—how should you view this kindness? What aspect and nature of kindness is it referring to? What is the significance of ‘A kindness received should be gratefully repaid’? People must figure out the answers to these questions and under no circumstances be constrained by this idea of repaying kindness—for anyone who pursues the truth, this is absolutely essential. What is ‘kindness’ according to human notions? On a smaller level, kindness is someone helping you out when you are in trouble. For example, somebody giving you a bowl of rice when you are starving, or a bottle of water when you’re dying of thirst, or helping you up when you fall down and can’t get up. These are all acts of kindness. A great act of kindness is someone rescuing you when you’re in desperate straits—that is a life-saving kindness. When you are in mortal danger and someone helps you to avoid death, they are essentially saving your life. These are some of the things that people perceive as ‘kindness.’ This sort of kindness far surpasses any petty, material favor—it is a great kindness that cannot be measured in terms of money or material things. Those who receive it feel a kind of gratitude that is impossible to express with just a few words of thanks. Is it accurate, though, for people to measure kindness in this way? (It is not.) Why do you say that it is not accurate? (Because this measurement is based on the standards of traditional culture.) This is an answer based in theory and doctrine, and while it may seem right, it does not get to the essence of the matter(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (7)). “Let us now turn our attention to the matter of man’s so-called kindness. For instance, take the case of a kind person who rescues a beggar that collapsed from hunger in the snow outside. They take the beggar into their home, feed and clothe him, and allow him to live among their family and do work for them. Regardless of whether the beggar volunteered to work of his own free will, or whether he did so to repay a debt of kindness, was his rescue an act of kindness? (No.) Even small animals are able to help and rescue each other. It requires just a slight effort for men to perform such deeds, and anyone with humanity is able to do such things and rise to them. One could say that such deeds are a societal responsibility and obligation that anyone with humanity ought to fulfill. Isn’t man’s characterization of them as kindness going a little overboard? Is it an apt characterization? For instance, during a time of famine when many people may go hungry, if a rich person dispenses bags of rice to poor households to help them get through this difficult time, is this not just an example of the kind of basic moral help and support that should occur among men? He just gave them a little bit of rice—it is not as if he gave away all his food to others and went hungry himself. Does this really count as kindness? (No.) The societal responsibilities and obligations that man is capable of fulfilling, those deeds that man should be instinctively capable of doing and ought to do, and simple acts of service that are helpful and beneficial to others—these things can in no way be considered kindness, as they are all cases where man is simply lending a helping hand. Giving help to someone who happens to need it, at an appropriate time and place, is a very normal phenomenon. It is also the responsibility of every member of the human race. This is simply a sort of responsibility and obligation. God gave people these instincts when He created them. What instincts am I referring to here? I am referring to man’s conscience and reason(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (7)). Through reading God’s words, I gained a new understanding of the “kindness” in “repaying kindness received” that had always fettered me. When someone falls upon hard times, lending them a helping hand to get them through it and supporting them to the best of your abilities is a societal responsibility that everyone should take on, and it’s not really kindness. Like, when Fang Ling helped take care of my paralyzed husband and looked after my crops in our fields at my most difficult time, this was just normal human relations and reciprocal support between people. Not to mention she’s my husband’s sister; so, of course she would help to the best of her abilities when her brother came upon hard times. This couldn’t really count as kindness. When my husband passed away and I descended into negativity, Fang Ling fellowshiped with me and supported me, but that’s just what fellow sisters do for each other, it couldn’t be called kindness. If Fang Ling’s family was having a hard time, I would support them as well. If she became negative and weak, I would read God’s words for her and support her. This is what people with normal humanity should do. And yet, I saw everything that Fang Ling did as kindness, and was always thinking of how I could repay her, as if I never would have made it without her help. In reality, it was the guidance and help of God’s words that got me to where I am. After my husband passed away, because I didn’t understand the truth, I didn’t know how I should proceed, and at my weakest and most negative time, it was God who orchestrated all manner of things, people and places to help me. It was God’s words that enlightened and guided me out of my hardship, and got me to where I am now. I lack for nothing now and live just as normally as anyone else, eating and drinking God’s words, and fulfilling my duty; this is all due to God’s love. If I truly had a conscience, I should be repaying God. Instead, I lived by this mistaken idea of gratefully repaying kindness received, always valuing my relationships and loving care with others, and never forgetting even the slightest favor someone had done for me, all while resisting and rebelling against God who had given me everything, and not hesitating to violate principles and damage the church’s interests to repay kindness. This was actual ungratefulness and lack of humanity. When I realized this, I felt much more at ease, and thought how pitiful I was for not understanding the truth.

Later on, I saw this passage of God’s words: “Someone helped you in the past, was kind to you in certain ways and had an impact on your life or some major event, but their humanity and the path they walk are not in line with your own path and what you seek. You do not speak a common language, you do not like this person and, perhaps, on some level you could say that your interests and what you seek are completely different. Your paths in life, your worldviews, and your outlooks on life are all different—you are two completely different kinds of people. So, how should you approach and respond to the help that they previously gave you? Is this a realistic situation that may arise? (Yes.) So, what should you do? This is also an easy situation to deal with. Given that the two of you are walking different paths, after providing them with whatever material reimbursement you can afford given your means, you find that your beliefs are just too divergent, you cannot walk on the same path, cannot even be friends and can no longer interact. How should you proceed, given that you can no longer interact? Keep your distance from them. They might have been kind to you in the past, but they swindle and cheat their way through society, perpetrating all kinds of nefarious deeds and you do not like this person, so it is entirely reasonable to keep your distance from them. Some may say, ‘Isn’t that lacking in conscience to act in that way?’ This is not lacking in conscience—if they were really to encounter some difficulty in their life, you could still help them out, but you cannot be constrained by them or go along with them in doing evil and unconscionable deeds. There is also no need to slave away for them just because they helped you or did a big favor for you in the past—that is not your obligation and they are not worthy of that kind of treatment. You are entitled to choose to interact with, spend time with, and even become friends with people whom you like and get along with, people who are correct. You can fulfill your responsibility and obligation to this person, this is your right. Of course, you can also refuse to become friends with and have dealings with people that you do not like, and you need not fulfill any obligation or responsibility to them—this is also your right. Even if you decide to abandon this person and refuse to interact with them or fulfill any responsibility or obligation to them, this would not be wrong. You must set certain limits on the way you comport yourself, and treat different people in different ways. You should not associate with evil people or follow their bad example, this is the wise choice. Do not be influenced by various factors such as gratitude, emotions, and public opinion—this is taking a stance and having principles, and is what you ought to do(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (7)). God’s words clearly stated the principles for handling people. If someone has done us a big favor in the past, we must treat them based upon the quality of their humanity and the path they walk. If they are a good person and walk the right path, we can converse with them normally, and help them as best we can when they need help. If the person that helped us doesn’t walk the right path and commits outrages, we must be careful about interacting with them and discern the nature of what they say and do. If necessary, we may have to abandon them or distance ourselves from them, and just give them some material aid to the best of our ability. If they believe in God but do not pursue the truth, go through the motions in their duties, cause trouble, and disrupt the work of God’s house, we must prune and deal with them according to the truth principles. If they still do not repent, then we must hold fast to principles, warning those that need warning and cleansing those that ought to be cleansed according to principles. We mustn’t act according to satanic laws, associating with evil and violating principles. I thought of how I hadn’t treated people according to principles, had repeatedly acted ignorantly, been fettered by traditional thoughts, and unwittingly had become Satan’s lackey, causing disruption to church life. If we don’t live by the truth in our faith, we can resist God and offend His disposition at any time! Fang Ling still gives me some material support from time to time, but through God’s words, I’ve learned how to conceive of this support. I do not look at this support as her treating me well or offering me kindness, but rather as a sign of God’s love. God moved her to help me, so I ought to thank God and fulfill my duty to repay Him.

In the past, I always thought that I had to repay kindness received and be grateful, thinking that is what good people do. Through my own experience, however, I found that Satan uses this traditional idea of repaying kindness to fetter people, confine their thinking, and make them mix up right and wrong, act without principles, and unwittingly become tools of Satan. I also learned that no matter how good people might think satanic things are, those things are not the truth. Only God’s words are the truth. God’s words allow us to discern right from wrong and live out normal humanity. Only when we live by the truth and treat people and things according to the principles of God’s words, can we act according to God’s will and live with character and dignity. All gratitude to God for His salvation!

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