What I Gained From Being an Honest Person
By Cheng Yan, South Korea
At a work meeting, a leader asked me how a church’s watering of newcomers that I was in charge of was going. I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t followed up on it for the past few days and I didn’t know the specifics. How should I respond? If I said I didn’t know, the leader and other co-workers would definitely say I wasn’t doing practical work, and that would be embarrassing. I figured I could just share what I knew from before and then see what I could do after that. So I responded, “Arrangements have been made for all of that work, and we’ve added some team members.” The leader said right away, “You’re not answering the question, you’re prevaricating. That’s being cunning. If you don’t know, just say so and follow up as soon as you can. Why are you being so indirect? That’s not good. A mistake is a mistake, and you should have the courage to admit to it.” I felt fidgety and uneasy, and my face was burning. Just what I’d feared had happened. I felt like I’d totally lost face, that everyone had seen through me. I knew that what the leader said was right, but I couldn’t submit in my heart. I felt like she didn’t have to say so much about it. Wouldn’t it be fine if I just took care of it as soon as I could? Why did she have to prune and deal with me in front of all those people? I was really upset, so I silently prayed, “God, I feel really resistant to what happened today and I can’t submit to it. Please enlighten and guide me so I can know myself and learn a lesson.” I read a passage of (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique IV). I saw from what God’s words reveal that Satan’s words and deeds all carry motives and trickery. To cover up its shameful intentions, it speaks in really roundabout ways so people can’t make sense of it. It’s really insidious and cunning. Satan answers God’s questions with ambiguous, misleading responses. It’s disgusting to God. As for me, I clearly didn’t know how the watering of newcomers was going, but I wasn’t truthful. I gave a non-answer to confuse the leader. I answered the question without letting the leader see the truth. To protect my face and status, and so the leader wouldn’t know I wasn’t doing practical work and the brothers and sisters there wouldn’t look down on me, I brazenly said something to obscure the facts, to mislead and deceive them. I was displaying a satanic disposition. Thinking about it, I was usually that way with the brothers and sisters. Like in a work meeting, someone asked me a skills-based question, but I didn’t really have a good understanding of it, and I was afraid that telling the truth would make them look down on me, so I said things like, “If this problem isn’t resolved, it’s not just an issue with your skill level, right? Isn’t it because you have been muddling through your duty? Or are you failing to learn and communicate?” On the surface, it looked like I was answering the question, but I knew in my heart that kind of answer didn’t resolve the issue. I thought when I asked questions like that in return, the person would self-reflect and stop asking me questions. That way, my shortcomings didn’t come to light. I was always being cunning and deceptive to protect my reputation and status. I was happier to offend God than to lose my face. That fully revealed my slippery, crafty nature, and that I was fed up with the truth. I thought that lying and deceiving is really clever, but in fact, it’s foolish. Even if I duped and misled everyone, and they looked up to me and thought I could get work done and do my duty well, God wouldn’t approve—He’d be disgusted with me. Then what good was everyone else’s approval? At that moment, I felt empty-handed and pathetic. I was busy from morning till night, but I couldn’t say a single honest thing. My cunning satanic disposition hadn’t changed at all, and I didn’t have any reality of the truth. Being so harshly exposed and criticized by the leader that day was God’s warning for me. I knew I couldn’t continue on that way, but I had to repent to God, seek to be an honest person, and live out that reality.later. “Let us first look at what kind of question Jehovah God asked of Satan. ‘From where come you?’ Isn’t this a straightforward question? Is there any hidden meaning? No; it is just a straightforward question. If I were to ask you: ‘Where do you come from?’ how then would you answer? Is it a difficult question to answer? Would you say: ‘From going to and fro, and from walking up and down’? (No.) You would not answer like this. So, how then do you feel when you see Satan answering in this way? (We feel that Satan is being absurd, but also deceitful.) Can you tell what I am feeling? Every time I see these words of Satan, I feel disgusted, because Satan talks, and yet its words contain no substance. Did Satan answer God’s question? No, the words Satan spoke were not an answer, they did not yield anything. They were not an answer to God’s question. ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.’ What is your understanding of these words? Just where does Satan come from? Have you received an answer to this question? (No.) This is the ‘genius’ of Satan’s cunning schemes—not letting anyone discover what it is actually saying. Having heard these words you still cannot discern what it has said, even though it has finished answering. Yet Satan believes it has answered perfectly. How then do you feel? Disgusted? (Yes.) Now you begin to feel disgust in response to these words. Satan’s words have a certain characteristic: What Satan says leaves you scratching your head, unable to perceive the source of its words. Sometimes Satan has motives and speaks deliberately, and sometimes governed by its nature, such words emerge spontaneously, and come straight out of Satan’s mouth. Satan does not spend a long time weighing such words; rather, they are expressed without thinking. When God asked where it came from, Satan answered with a few ambiguous words. You feel very puzzled, never knowing exactly where Satan is from. Are there any among you who speak like this? What kind of way is this to speak? (It is ambiguous and does not give a certain answer.) What kind of words should we use to describe this way of speaking? It is diversionary and misleading, is it not? Suppose someone does not want to let others know what they did yesterday. You ask them: ‘I saw you yesterday. Where were you going?’ They do not tell you directly where they went. Rather, they say: ‘What a day it was yesterday. It was so tiring!’ Did they answer your question? They did, but they did not give the answer you wanted. This is the ‘genius’ within the artifice of man’s speech. You can never discover what they mean, nor perceive the source or intention of their words. You do not know what they are trying to avoid because in their heart they have their own story—this is insidious”
After that, I wondered what other dishonest behaviors I still had. I knew I had to do some introspection and change them. I realized through self-reflection that there were some cunning parts in my recent reports on work, too. I noted in detail the work that was done more thoroughly, more completely. But the work that was done roughly and inefficiently I wrote about in general terms, or didn’t write about at all. I remember there was a project that wasn’t getting good results, and when it came time to report on work, I was considering what everyone would think of me if I wrote the truth. Would they say I couldn’t even do that little project well, that I was incompetent? I weighed the pros and cons, and decided not to write about that project’s progress so no one would know, and maybe they’d think I was just too busy and had forgotten about it. In my reports, I was plotting, being disingenuous and deceitful time after time. I was so crafty. Over my years of faith, though I’d done lots of duties and endured some hardship, I wasn’t putting effort into pursuing the truth. I was just thinking about how to protect my reputation and status, so I still wasn’t remotely speaking and acting like an honest person. I didn’t have the courage to be simple and open—it was pathetic! Sometimes I’d ask myself: God has spoken to us so much, and I’ve read quite a bit of His words, but am I living out the reality of any of it? I couldn’t even write an accurate report on my work. What would I gain that way in the end? At that point I felt like I was on the brink of danger. Without repenting and pursuing a change in disposition, I’d be cast out by God at any point. I said a prayer in my heart, “God, I’m so deeply corrupted. I’m constantly lying and deceiving to protect my face and status. Please enlighten and guide me so that I can truly know myself.”
I read more of God’s words after that. “If you are a leader, worker, or supervisor at any level, are you afraid of the house of God questioning your work? Are you afraid that the house of God will discover lapses and mistakes in your work and deal with you? Are you afraid that after the Above gets to know your real caliber and stature, they will see you in a different light and not consider you for promotion? … That fear in your heart proves at the least that you have the disposition of an antichrist, and when fear strikes, you want to cover things up and deceive others. Is that the state at play? (Yes.) What are you afraid of? Why can you not treat the matter honestly and candidly, and say, ‘If I end up with no status, then that’s the way it is. Even if this matter is exposed and the Above finds out, and then they don’t use me anymore, I still have to explain the situation clearly’? Your fear proves that you love your status more than the truth. Is this not the disposition of an antichrist? (It is.) To cherish status above all is the disposition of an antichrist. Why do you treasure status so much? What are the benefits of status? If status brought you disaster, difficulties, embarrassment, and pain, would you still treasure it? (No.) There are so many benefits to having status, things like envy, respect, high opinion, and flattery from other people, as well as their admiration and reverence. There is also the sense of superiority and privilege that gives you dignity and a sense of self-worth. In addition, you can also enjoy things that others do not, such as trappings of status and special treatment. These are all things you have dreamed of, but did not dare think about. Do you cherish these things? If status is merely hollow, with no real significance, and defending it serves no real purpose, is it not foolish to cherish it? If you can let go of things such as interests and enjoyments of the flesh, then fame and status will no longer tie you down. So, what has to be resolved before resolving issues related to cherishing and chasing status? First, you have to see the essence of the things status gives you, the things that you find so intoxicating and that you cherish. If you can see through and let go of these things, the allure of fame and status will diminish, and the problems that arise when you act in order to enjoy fame and status—the evil you can do; the deception, concealment, and coverups you engage in; and your refusal of others’ supervision, questioning, or investigation—will all be resolved. Without the ability to see through the essence of coveting the trappings of status, these problems will never be resolved” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight: They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part Two)). They helped me realize that I couldn’t stop myself from lying and deceiving because I cherished my reputation and status too much. To protect my name and position, and so the leader wouldn’t see the reality of my failures to follow up on work, I tried to scheme, play tricks, mislead the leader with my words. In my work reports I covered up my shortcomings, only reporting on the good, not the bad, so others would think I was a leader who did practical work. I was afraid they would see my true face and no longer look up to me, and then I’d no longer get to enjoy the sense of superiority brought by that status. When I saw in God’s words: “To cherish status above all is the disposition of an antichrist.” I finally realized what a serious issue this was. I thought of those antichrists who are expelled. They always pursue name and status in their duty, and they play tricks and are deceitful behind the scenes. That seriously disrupts the work of God’s house, so they’re exposed and kicked out. There are also false leaders who enjoy the benefits of status. They’re always crafty in their duty and cover up the truth when they don’t do real work, which holds up the work of God’s house. That’s just like Sister Chen, who was in charge of gospel work. She was handling other work at the time, too, and she was slippery and deceitful in both positions. In gospel work, she said she was busy with her other work, and in her other work she claimed she was busy with gospel work. Actually she wasn’t doing her work on either side, and she ended up being exposed and cast out. The lessons from others’ failures were a warning for me. Playing games and being deceitful for the sake of my name and status was just tricking myself and others, being foolish. God sees everything and He likes honest people. Only honest people have a firm footing in God’s house, and cunning people will be exposed and cast out at some point. In my faith I wasn’t seeking to be an honest person, but I was putting on an act, leaving a false impression, and though I fooled some people, I couldn’t escape God’s scrutiny. In the end God would have exposed me and cast me out. Then, I realized the importance of being honest and knew that being honest as God requires and accepting His scrutiny in all things is the only way to gain His approval. I thought of God’s words: “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, they are in great trouble, it will be very difficult for them to gain the truth. 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 don’t allow others to get a full sense of them and have others admire them—are these people not stupid? Such people are extremely stupid! That’s because the truth about a person will come to light sooner or later. What path do they walk in their conduct? 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!” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). Always hiding and concealing, always pretending is the wrong path, and if you don’t turn back, you’ll ultimately be destroyed. I prayed to God and set my resolve, ready to start pursuing a change in disposition and be an honest person.
I read more of God’s words later on. “All that you do, every action, every intention, and every reaction should be brought before God. Even your daily spiritual life—your prayers, your closeness to God, how you eat and drink of God’s words, your fellowship with your brothers and sisters, and your life within the church—and your service in partnership can be brought before God for His scrutiny. It is such practice that will help you achieve growth in life. The process of accepting God’s scrutiny is the process of purification. The more you can accept God’s scrutiny, the more you are purified and the more you are in accord with God’s will, so that you will not be drawn into debauchery, and your heart will live in His presence. The more you accept His scrutiny, the greater are Satan’s humiliation and your ability to forsake the flesh. So, the acceptance of God’s scrutiny is a path of practice people should follow” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Perfects Those Who Are After His Own Heart). I realized by pondering God’s words that only those who accept God’s scrutiny have reverence for Him, are able to quiet themselves before Him to seek the truth, make accurate assessments of their own thoughts, and know the right thing to do and how to gain God’s approval. By having us accept His scrutiny, God allows us to always live before Him and not be misled by Satan so His words can become the standard and basis for what we say and do. That’s the only way to step onto the path of pursuing the truth and being saved. After understanding God’s will, I started to practice opening my heart to God, no longer pretending or packaging myself, and accepting God’s scrutiny in all things. I’d warn myself when I wrote reports after that to be honest and accept God’s scrutiny, and accurately describe the work I hadn’t done well. When the leader asked about my work, I’d be sure to tell the truth. When the others asked me questions, I was truthful about what I knew. If I knew, I knew, and if I didn’t, then I didn’t. Putting this into practice was much more relaxing. I experienced that accepting God’s scrutiny is a path to enter into the reality of the truth and cast off corruption. I also experienced that without pruning and dealing, I wouldn’t have seriously examined my own corruption, and really wouldn’t have pursued the truth to enter into reality. Otherwise, no matter how many years I had faith, how many duties I did or how much I suffered, my corrupt disposition would never have changed at all. I wouldn’t have been able to be saved, and I’d be bound to be cast out by God. Being pruned and dealt with that time showed me the importance of being honest, and I gained some understanding of my slippery and cunning satanic disposition. That was God’s love and salvation!