What I Gained From Being Dealt With

November 2, 2023

By Xiaomi, Japan

In June 2022, I was elected to be a church leader. Thinking about all the work I would take on, the wide variety of experience I’d gain, and how it would be good for my growth in life, I was thrilled. I was also grateful to God for this chance to practice. But I was new to leadership, so I didn’t know a lot of principles. I didn’t seek principles when problems cropped up, but just plodded away blindly doing whatever I thought best. I was that way when selecting people for positions, too. A little while later, a supervisor I’d selected was being sloppy in her duty and holding up work. An upper leader reprimanded me, “In something as important as appointing staff, why ignore principles and decide things on your own without discussing them with your co-workers? How arrogant and self-assured!” I felt terrible when I heard her say that. I admitted that I’d been arrogant, but at the same time I felt really worried. Now that my problem had been exposed, the leader and other brothers and sisters would see me for who I was. If the same old problem cropped up again, would the leader dismiss me? To my surprise, before long some of my work had to be redone on another project because I’d done things my own way. That delayed the work, and I was pruned and dealt with again. I was told: “As a leader, you’re not handling personal matters, but doing work that involves the entire church. Leaders should seek principles of the truth and hold discussions with co-workers in all matters. Why do you always just do whatever you want? You’re way too arrogant.” Hearing this from her was like a knife through the heart, and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. She was right—the leader had already pointed out this very problem. Why did I make the same mistake? If I was always doing things my own way and messing up, I was bound to be dismissed sooner or later. During that time, I noticed some others around me who didn’t seek principles of the truth in their duties, but did things their own way. That led to disruptions in the work and got them criticized, and some were dismissed. Seeing this made me even more anxious and afraid. I felt like I had to really watch out from then on and never make a mistake. Otherwise, I’d be the next one dismissed. If I really did lose my duty, would I still have a good outcome and destination? I became really skittish in work after that. Even in ordinary work discussions, when we needed to express an opinion, I was hesitant to open my mouth, afraid I’d say the wrong thing and reveal my problem. When offering suggestions on issues I noticed, I second-guessed myself, thinking: “Is this really a problem? If I’m wrong, will the leader deal with me? Never mind—better not to bring it up. That way at least I won’t be wrong, and won’t be criticized.” At that thought, I’d just shrug off things I wasn’t sure about. But that left me feeling kind of guilty, and I realized I was being irresponsible toward my work. I figured I should ask my co-workers and then handle matters after seeing what they thought. That way the leader wouldn’t say I was arrogant and self-willed. Once, the church needed to select a team leader for gospel work. One brother had a gift for sharing the gospel, but others said he didn’t have good humanity, and that he had lashed out and taken revenge on others. I couldn’t tell if he was a viable candidate, so I discussed it with my co-workers. Everyone said to give it a try. I felt kind of uneasy at the time and wanted to further discuss it, but then I figured, I was the only one who felt that brother wasn’t well-suited. What if I made a suggestion that was off, and the leader said I didn’t understand the principles, that I was arrogant, and dealt with me? So I didn’t bring up my concerns, and I even comforted myself: I’d already asked for everyone’s input, so if something went wrong, I wouldn’t be solely responsible. Before long, the upper leader looked into our work and found out he didn’t have good humanity. He wouldn’t take others’ suggestions, and would even lash out and take revenge on them. The leader said, “If he’s not dismissed right away, the work will be impacted.” I was really upset to hear her say that, because I’d been aware of the problem before, but I was afraid my take on it was off, and I’d be dealt with if there was a problem, so I hadn’t said anything. Luckily the leader noticed it and had him dismissed, otherwise the work definitely would have suffered. I felt really guilty. I had a distinct sense that there was a problem, so why didn’t I have the guts to bring it up? Why did I fail to protect church work? Why was I so afraid to be pruned and dealt with? I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to understand my problem.

Then one day, I read a passage of God’s words. “Some people follow their own will when they act. They violate the principles, and after being pruned and dealt with, they admit in mere word that they are arrogant, and that they made a mistake only because they do not have the truth. But in their hearts, they still complain, ‘No one else sticks their neck out, just me—and in the end, when something goes wrong, they push all the responsibility onto me. Isn’t this stupid of me? I can’t do the same thing next time, sticking my neck out like that. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down!’ What do you think of this attitude? Is it an attitude of repentance? (No.) What attitude is it? Haven’t they become slippery and deceitful? In their hearts they think, ‘I’m lucky this time it didn’t turn into a disaster. A fall in the pit, a gain in your wit, so to speak. I have to be more careful in the future.’ They do not seek the truth, using their pettiness and cunning schemes to attend to and handle the matter. Can they gain the truth in this way? They cannot, because they have not repented. The first thing to be done when repenting is to recognize what you have done wrong: to see where your mistake was, the essence of the problem, and the corrupt disposition you have revealed; you must reflect on these things and accept the truth, then practice according to the truth. Only this is an attitude of repentance. If, on the other hand, you consider cunning ways exhaustively, you become more slippery than before, your techniques are cleverer and more concealed, and you have more methods to deal with things, then the problem is not quite as simple as just being deceitful. You are using underhanded means and you have secrets you cannot divulge. This is evil. Not only have you not repented, but you have become more slippery and deceitful. God sees that you are overly intransigent and evil, one who admits on the surface that they were wrong, and accepts being dealt with and pruned, yet in reality, does not have a repentant attitude in the slightest. Why do we say this? Because while this event was happening or in its aftermath, you did not seek the truth at all, you did not reflect and try to know yourself, and you did not practice according to the truth. Your attitude is one of using Satan’s philosophies, logic, and methods to resolve the problem. In reality, you are sidestepping the problem, and wrapping it up in a neat package so others see no trace of it, letting nothing slip. In the end, you feel you are quite smart. These are the things God sees, rather than your having truly reflected, confessed, and repented of your sin in the face of the matter that has befallen you, then going on to seek the truth and practicing according to the truth. Your attitude is not one of seeking the truth or of practicing the truth, nor is it one of submission to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, but one of using Satan’s techniques and methods to resolve your problem. You give others a false impression and resist being exposed by God, and you are defensive and confrontational regarding the circumstances that God has orchestrated for you. Your heart is more closed than before and separated from God. As such, can any good result come from it? Can you still live in the light, enjoying peace and joy? You cannot. If you shun the truth and shun God, you will certainly fall into the darkness and weep and gnash your teeth(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Resolve Their Notions and Misunderstandings of God). God reveals that among those who violate principles in their duty and disrupt work, if they’re pruned and dealt with, those who love and accept the truth are able to seek the truth from that, self-reflecting and learning where they went wrong, what corrupt dispositions they displayed, and how they should be resolved. Afterward, they can do their duty according to principles. This is truly accepting being dealt with and showing genuine repentance. But when those who don’t accept the truth are dealt with, they may verbally acknowledge they were wrong, but they don’t seek the truth or self-reflect to know themselves. Instead, they use slick and cunning ways to wrap themselves up, not letting others see their issues so they can protect themselves. That kind of person isn’t just crafty; they’re also evil. I compared myself to what’s revealed in God’s words. When I first became a leader, I didn’t know a lot of principles and I didn’t explore them; I just did things my own way. That was disruptive to the work. The leader pointed out my problem in order to help me out. But though I admitted I’d messed up, I didn’t reflect on myself after that, or put effort into understanding principles. I just did guesswork and stayed on my guard, thinking that since the leader had already seen through me, I could be dismissed if I made another mistake, and then I wouldn’t have a good outcome. I disguised myself at every turn for self-protection, not showing my issues or shortcomings. I was really cautious in everything I said and did. I weighed the pros and cons before mentioning an issue or expressing an opinion, considering what the consequences would be if I were wrong and whether I might be dealt with for it. I’d only say something if I could guarantee everything would be alright. But I wouldn’t breathe a word about anything I was uncertain about, without any consideration for how the work could suffer if the problem was ignored. And to avoid taking responsibility, when I needed to select someone, I asked for my co-workers’ input, but just did it for show. Though I was unsettled about their suggestion, I didn’t investigate further, leading to the wrong person being selected. That was harmful to the brothers and sisters as well as the work. I saw that when I was pruned and dealt with, I didn’t show any repentance at all. I just became more slippery and devious, constantly thinking about how to avoid slipping up and being called out, always on my guard against God and the leaders. Doing my duty that way was disgusting and odious to God. I’d never get the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance that way. If I didn’t repent, I knew that eventually I’d be spurned and cast out by God.

During my devotionals once, I read a passage of God’s words about how antichrists treat being dealt with that helped me understand my own problem. Almighty God says, “Some antichrists that work in the house of God silently resolve to act scrupulously, to avoid making errors, being pruned and dealt with, angering the Above or being caught by their leader doing something bad, and they make sure to have an audience when they do good deeds. Yet, no matter how scrupulous they are, due to the fact that they embark from the wrong starting point and take the wrong path, acting only for the sake of reputation and status and never seeking the truth, they often violate principles, disrupt and disturb the church’s work, act as Satan’s lackeys and even often commit transgressions. It is very common for such people to often violate principles and commit transgressions. So, of course, it is difficult for them to avoid being pruned and dealt with. Now why do antichrists act so cautiously when not being pruned and dealt with? One reason, for sure, is that they think, ‘I’ve got to be careful—after all, “Caution is the parent of safety” and “The good have peaceful lives.” I must follow these principles and remind myself at every moment to avoid doing wrong or getting into trouble, and I must suppress my corruption and intentions. As long as I don’t do wrong and can persevere to the very end, I will gain blessings, evade the disasters, and I will be successful in my belief in God!’ They often urge themselves on, motivate and encourage themselves in this way. They believe that if they do wrong, they will significantly lessen their chances of gaining blessings. Is this not the calculation and belief that occupies the depths of their hearts? Putting aside whether this calculation or belief of antichrists is right or wrong, based on this belief, what will they be most worried about when being dealt with and pruned? (Their prospects and fate.) They associate being dealt with and pruned with their prospects and fate—this has to do with their evil nature. They think to themselves: ‘Am I being dealt with like this because God is going to cast me out? Is it because God doesn’t want me? Will God’s house stop me from performing this duty? Do I not seem trustworthy? Am I going to be replaced with someone better? If I am cast out, can I still be blessed? Can I still enter the kingdom of heaven? It sounds like my performance hasn’t been very satisfactory, so I must be more careful in the future, and learn to be obedient and well-behaved, and not make any trouble. I must learn to be patient, and survive by keeping my head down. Every day when I do things, I must imagine that I’m walking on eggshells. I can’t let my guard down. Although I have carelessly given myself away this time and been dealt with and pruned, it looks like the problem is not very serious. It seems like I still have a chance—I can still escape the disasters and be blessed, so I should just humbly accept this. It’s not as if I’m going to be replaced, let alone cast out or expelled, so I can accept being dealt with and pruned in this way.’ Is this an attitude of accepting being dealt with and pruned? Is this truly knowing one’s corrupt disposition? Is this really wanting to repent and turn over a new leaf? Is this being genuinely determined to act according to the principles? No, it is not. Then why do they act this way? Because of that glimmer of hope that they can evade the disasters and be blessed. As long as that glimmer of hope still exists, they cannot give themselves away, they cannot reveal their true selves, they cannot tell others what is in the depths of their hearts, and they cannot let others know about the resentment they harbor inside. They must hide themselves, they must tuck their tails between their legs, and not allow others to see them for who they really are. Therefore, they do not change at all after being pruned and dealt with, and they carry on doing things as they did before. So, what is the principle behind their actions? Simply to protect their own interests in everything. No matter what errors they make, they do not let others know; they must make everyone around them think that they are a perfect person without faults or defects, and that they never make mistakes. This is how they disguise themselves. After keeping up their disguises for a long time, they feel confident that they are more or less certain to elude the disasters, to be blessed, and to enter the kingdom of heaven(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Eight)). I saw from God’s words that when antichrists are dealt with for violating principles or doing evil, what they’re most worried about is being cast out, then not gaining any blessings. So they become incredibly cautious in what they do after that, on their guard against God and man. They think as long as they don’t do anything wrong and don’t expose their flaws for others to discover, they can hold on to their position and their blessings will be guaranteed. I saw that antichrists are terribly selfish, vile, crafty, and evil. They just believe in God for the sake of blessings. When they’re dealt with, all they think of is their own future and interests. They may become well-behaved and compliant for a time, but it’s just an act, so they can hole up in the church to avoid the disasters. I saw that my attitude toward being dealt with was just how antichrists act, linking criticism with receiving blessings. When I was reprimanded, I was guessing whether the leader would dismiss me, and worried about whether I’d have a good future and destination. I was walking on eggshells in my duty after that. I thought and rethought any suggestions or issues I mentioned, very afraid of making a mistake and exposing my inadequacies. Then the leader would know my measure and dismiss me. I hadn’t truly accepted being dealt with from before, or self-reflected and seen my errors. I was just blindly on my guard against God and used even more deceitful tactics to disguise myself. I thought that as long as I hid my true face and didn’t make more mistakes or get criticized, I wouldn’t be dismissed, and then I could stay in the church and end up with a good outcome and destination. I was always cautious with God, racking my brains to calculate my personal gains or losses. I saw issues but didn’t do any seeking or report them. I just cared about watching my own back and didn’t remotely consider church work. I was so selfish and crafty. Disguising myself that way, though I could fool the leader for a time and not get dismissed right away, if I never self-reflected, repented, or made changes, I’d be exposed and cast out by God sooner or later. Realizing that, I said a prayer, ready to repent, and to seek the truth to resolve my problem.

In my seeking, I read some of God’s words about how to properly handle being dealt with. “The fact is that God’s house prunes and deals with people entirely because those people act willfully when performing their duties, they disrupt and disturb the work of God’s house, and they do not reflect or repent. That is why they are pruned and dealt with. When people are pruned and dealt with in this kind of situation, are they being cast out? (No.) Absolutely not, people should have a positive understanding of these things. In this context, being pruned and dealt with is not malicious and it benefits the church’s work, whether it comes from God or other people, from leaders and workers or from the brothers and sisters. Being able to prune and deal with a person when they act willfully and disrupt the work of God’s house is a righteous and positive thing to do. It is what upright people and those who love the truth should do(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Eight)). “When it comes to being pruned and dealt with, what is the very least that people should know? Being pruned and dealt with must be experienced to adequately perform one’s duty—it is indispensable. It is something that people must face on a daily basis and often experience in their faith in God and attainment of salvation. No one can be apart from being pruned and dealt with. Is pruning and dealing with someone something that involves their future and fate? (No.) So what is pruning and dealing with someone for? Is it in order to condemn people? (No, it’s helping people understand the truth and perform their duty according to principles.) That’s right. That’s the most correct understanding of it. Pruning and dealing with someone is a kind of discipline, a kind of chastening, but it’s also a form of helping people. Being pruned and dealt with allows you to alter your incorrect pursuit in time. It allows you to promptly recognize the problems you currently have, and allows you to recognize the corrupt dispositions you expose in time. No matter what, being pruned and dealt with helps you fulfill your duties according to principles, it saves you from making mistakes and going astray in time, and it prevents you from causing catastrophes. Is this not the greatest aid to people, their greatest remedy? Those with a conscience and reason should be able to treat being dealt with and pruned correctly(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Eight)). I learned from His words that this is one way of purifying and perfecting people. It’s also something that we have to face and undergo in our process of growth in life. Pruning and dealing might be really harsh and poignant sometimes, but it’s being directed at our corrupt dispositions. It’s directly exposing and dissecting our corruption and disobedience. It doesn’t contain any malice toward us at all, and it’s not to condemn and cast us out—it’s unrelated to our future and fate. But I mistakenly believed that being dealt with was being condemned, that I’d be dismissed and cast out. Misunderstanding God that way was denying His righteousness, and blaspheming against Him! The leader pruning and dealing with me was mainly for my being arrogant and self-willed, disrupting the church’s work, which was really infuriating. The leader wanted me to make changes as soon as possible to protect the church’s work. Taking a stern tone was the most normal thing in the world, and she wasn’t dismissing me. Those critical words got right to the crux of my problems and corruption and allowed me to see the seriousness of the issue. My heart was so numb and rigid, and without that, I would have totally ignored kind words of advice and kept making the same mistake. Then I’d never make progress in my duty. I’d keep doing evil and disrupting church work. Every time I was dealt with, it promptly corrected my deviations and mistakes, stopping my evil in its tracks. That’s what’s truly most helpful for me. Thinking carefully about when I made the most gains in the truth, it came from the times I’d stumbled and fallen, and been dealt with. I really felt that being dealt with is God’s best, most effective method for judging and cleansing us. Being able to experience that is God’s grace and blessing, and His special favor for me. But I didn’t seek the truth or self-reflect. I just kept living within misunderstandings of God, worried about my future and fate. I was so unreasonable, and didn’t know what was good for me.

I read this passage of God’s words during a gathering once, and it really impacted me. Almighty God says, “If someone is always planning for their own interests and prospects when they perform their duty, and gives no thought to the work of the church or the interests of God’s house, then this is not performing a duty. This is opportunism, doing things for their own benefit and to obtain blessings for themselves. In this way, the nature behind performing their duty changes. It is just about making a deal with God, and wanting to use the performance of their duty to achieve their own goals. This way of doing things so easily disrupts the work of God’s house. If it only causes minor losses to the church’s work, then there is still room for redemption and they may still be given an opportunity to perform their duty, rather than being cleared out; but if it causes great losses to the church’s work and incurs the wrath of God and people alike, then they will be exposed and cast out, with no further opportunity to perform their duties. Some people are dismissed and cast out in this way. Why are they cast out? Have you found the root cause? The root cause is that they always consider their own gains and losses, get carried away by their own interests, cannot forsake the flesh, and don’t have a submissive attitude toward God at all, so they tend to behave recklessly. They believe in God only to obtain profit, grace, and blessings, rather than to gain any modicum of truth, so their belief in God fails. This is the root of the problem. Do you think it is unjust for them to be exposed and cast out? It is not unjust in the slightest, it is entirely determined by their nature. Anyone who does not love the truth or pursue the truth will eventually be exposed and cast out(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). God says, if you always consider and plan for your own interests and future in your duty, the nature of what you’re doing has changed, and it’s no longer doing a duty. You’re bound to end up doing evil and disrupting church work, then be dismissed and cast out. I was new to being a leader and didn’t know the principles. I mostly did whatever I pleased. I didn’t repent after being dealt with, but kept considering my own fate and was afraid of being transferred. I clearly saw problems, but to keep myself from making a mistake, I preferred holding up work over pointing them out. This wasn’t doing a duty; it was compromising church work and doing evil. Some of the people I saw dismissed and cast out were always protecting their own interests in their duty. After problems cropped up and they were dealt with, they didn’t put much effort into principles of the truth, but just disguised themselves, becoming guarded against God and the leaders. They were constantly worried about being dismissed and cast out, always living in this evil cycle. Their relationship with God wasn’t normal and they never got results in their duty. Some even did evil and disrupted church work, ending up exposed and cast out. I could see from their failures that someone’s correct motive and starting point in their faith and their duty, and what path they choose, are critical. These directly impact their outcome and destination. My state, my behavior, and the path I was on were all the same as those people. Always afraid of making mistakes and being reprimanded, I was timid and guarded against God, rigidly clinging to my own interests and future, but I rarely sought principles of the truth to solve any problems of mine that the leader brought up. If that had gone on longer, not only would I have failed to make progress in my duty, but it would have hurt the work and I would have left behind a transgression. The nature and consequences of that are serious. That wouldn’t be God exposing and casting me out, but me ruining my own future. At that I realized what I most needed to do then wasn’t to worry about whether I’d be dismissed and cast out, but to put real reflection into issues the leader pointed out, put effort into seeking and considering principles of the truth, and strive to follow principles. If I still didn’t do well when I was giving it my all, and I was dismissed, then I should submit to God’s arrangements.

Then I found some more of God’s words to practice and enter into. God’s words say, “Your destination and your fate are very important to you—they are of grave concern. You believe, if you do not do things with great care, it will mean that you cease to have a destination, that you have destroyed your own fate. But has it ever occurred to you that people who expend effort solely for the sake of their destination are laboring in vain? Such efforts are not genuine—they are fakery and deceit. If that is the case, then those who work only for the sake of their destination are on the threshold of their final defeat, for failure in one’s belief in God is caused by deceit. I have previously said that I do not like to be flattered or fawned on, or treated with enthusiasm. I like honest people to face up to My truth and My expectations. Even more, I like it when people are able to show the utmost care and consideration for My heart, and when they are even capable of giving up everything for My sake. Only in this way can My heart be comforted(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. On Destination). “Toward God, and toward their duty, people must have an honest heart. If they do, they will be someone who fears God. What kind of attitude do those who have an honest heart have toward God? At the very least, they have a heart that fears God, a heart that obeys God in all things, they make no inquiry of blessings or misfortune, say nothing of conditions, they leave themselves at the mercy of God—these are people with an honest heart(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). God says people who always consider their own future and destination in their duty and who only think of their own interests, aren’t genuine toward God, but are using and cheating Him. They disgust God; He hates them. God likes honest people who don’t care about blessings or curses, don’t have conditions, and are genuine in their duty. Only that kind of person gets God’s approval. Once I understood God’s will, I found a path of practice. In my duty, I had to focus on trying to be an honest person, open my heart to God, and let go of personal gains or losses. When dealt with, no matter what the leader’s attitude toward me is, and whether I’d get dismissed or not, I should seek principles to do my duty well—that’s the key. At the time the leader had mainly been dealing with me for being arrogant, self-assured, and doing things however I wanted. If that problem wasn’t addressed, I’d be likely to keep acting that way. So I made a summary of each of the problems that had cropped up, and compared them to principles one by one. If I wasn’t clear on something, I went to fellowship with others. When I encountered something I wasn’t sure about after that, I wasn’t quick to trust myself anymore, and didn’t do things on my own whim. I prayed to God and quietly sought principles. I also discussed things with co-workers until we reached a consensus. After doing that for a little while, fewer mistakes arose. When I ran into a challenge that I really couldn’t resolve, I’d seek help from upper leaders. Once when I was making an inquiry, I still felt some uncertainty after an upper leader finished his fellowship. I felt like I still had some questions and I wanted to bring them up, but I was afraid if they weren’t good questions, the leader might say I was incompetent and lacked insight. Just as I was hesitating, I realized that I was worrying about my own gains and losses again. I started praying to God over and over, ready to practice the truth and be an honest person. Whether I saw the issue accurately or not, I was willing to correct my motives and gain clarity on this aspect of the truth. Eventually, I mustered up the courage to ask my questions. After hearing me out, the leader said those really were issues. He also fellowshiped, “If there’s still anything that’s not clear, that hasn’t been fully addressed, you need to bring it up right away. That will help the church’s work.” Hearing the leader say that, I was really grateful to God, and felt the inner peace that comes with letting go of personal interests and being an honest person.

Through these experiences, I learned how being dealt with really is good for us. Being dealt with can be difficult in the moment, but now I’m able to handle it appropriately, and I can submit, seek principles of the truth, and resolve my problem. This makes me feel much more at ease.

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