How Home Truths Should Be Regarded
In November of 2017, I was elected as a church leader. When I first started gathering or discussing with brothers and sisters, I was able to share my views, and my fellowship had some light. The brothers and sisters thought quite highly of me and spoke with me respectfully. So I felt that I was valued and was quite pleased with myself. After a period of time, I noticed my partner, Sister Wendy, was quite frank in how she spoke to me, and would sometimes bring up my problems directly when she observed them. For instance, when I didn’t consider the general affairs of the church, she brought it up and told me to focus on that. But I felt I’d lost a bit of face, and so I said I would focus on it going forward, lest I give people a bad impression of me. But I was quite deficient in this area—either I couldn’t consider about certain things, or if I did, I didn’t know how to do them. Later on, when Wendy brought it up a few more times, I would claim that I’d focus on it going forward, but really I was thinking: “Everyone has always said that I bear a burden in my duty, and yet Wendy has this criticism of me. I wonder what the others will think of me now.” I felt like Wendy was keeping a close eye on my issues, that she looked down on me, and so I felt like avoiding her. Sometimes when we were discussing work and I brought up an idea, Wendy would directly tell me she didn’t find it suitable. Sometimes her tone was inappropriate and she would put me on the spot. I felt she was too aggressive and had no regard for my dignity. I felt she had poor humanity and was hard to get along with. On a few occasions, I tried to talk with Wendy or tell her to come eat when she was on the phone, but she didn’t respond immediately, which convinced me even further she had poor humanity and was too cold, so I had even less desire to interact with her. I had a much easier partnership with the other two sisters. I could sense that they thought highly of me when we spoke about work or our current states and they spoke to me respectfully. When they had issues, they’d often come to me for advice and would rarely point out my issues. I felt so at ease whenever I chatted with them or discussed work. The more I interacted with them, the more I felt Wendy was hard to get along with, and I just kept as far away from her as possible. I actually got the sense that Wendy was willing to work together with me, she would seek me out to discuss things, but I’d just respond perfunctorily, and wasn’t really willing to get close to her, because I felt she had poor humanity. Sometimes, certain vicious thoughts would occur to me, “It would be better if Wendy wasn’t in our group, then no one would nitpick my flaws.” I remember one time, during the church’s annual leader election, I kept a close eye on Wendy’s election results. I thought to myself: “There’s no way she’ll get elected with her poor humanity.” But to my surprise, everyone said she bore a burden in her duty and was very responsible. No one said anything about her having any glaring problems with her humanity. The upper leadership also said Wendy was a right person. I felt so confused: “So no one has gained discernment of Wendy? She’s so arrogant and loves exposing other people’s weaknesses—clear signs of poor humanity.” I really didn’t want to be partnered with her again, but when the results came out, we were both elected as leaders. I felt so encumbered when I thought about how I would have to partner with Wendy going forward. After that, I would rarely ever seek out Wendy to discuss work. It was mostly Wendy that would come to me and I’d put off meetings as much as possible. I’d only discuss with her when I couldn’t put it off any longer and wasn’t willing to open up to her and say what was in my heart.
One time, two brothers reported an issue with Wendy. They said she rarely fellowshiped on life entry and seemed to focus more on work. I realized that ever since I’d partnered with Wendy, she rarely spoke about life entry, and she didn’t proactively fellowship during gatherings. Without bothering to understand her actual situation or fellowshiping with her, I immediately brought this issue up with two deacons. On the surface, I was just discussing her issue, but in reality what I was saying was: “Wendy is a church leader, and if she just focuses on work and doesn’t emphasize fellowshiping truth to resolve issues, then she’s not suited for the role.” At the time, I was speaking in service of my private intentions. The deacons agreed with me that Wendy didn’t value life entry and wasn’t suited to be a church leader. I also told them: “Wendy is quite overbearing, and she doesn’t consider other people’s feelings when she speaks, which can be constraining.” As soon as I said that, another sister chimed in to say Wendy had recently brought up her deficiencies and she had felt quite uncomfortable. This further proved to me that Wendy had a problem with her humanity. I then said: “Wendy has poor humanity and is quite cold.” And I brought up a few examples for them. Even though I felt a bit guilty while saying it, when I considered how Wendy had constrained me, I felt sure that there was a problem with her. After hearing what I had to say, the two deacons also agreed that Wendy had poor humanity. They would also privately criticize Wendy as I had, and when we would have online gatherings, we’d send messages to each other while Wendy was fellowshiping, saying how poor her life entry and fellowship was. One time, a deacon and another sister came to chat about my current state. When they asked me how my partnership with Wendy was going, I said: “She’s fairly overbearing, her tone is improper and sometimes she ignores me when I talk to her. She seems quite cold and I feel constrained by her.” At the time, these two sisters had no discernment of me and said they would seek with the upper leader. After all, given that Wendy was a church leader, any problems she had would influence the church’s work. After hearing that, I thought: “If she’s replaced by the upper leader, I won’t have to partner with her anymore.” The next day we had a meeting with the upper leader and I brought up many of Wendy’s issues. I mentioned her poor life entry and humanity and how I felt constrained by her. The two other sisters also added their own comments. The upper leader was a bit surprised to hear all that—She said she was familiar with Wendy and hadn’t realized she was like that. She promised to look into the matter further.
Just a few days later the upper leader informed me that based on how I dealt with Wendy, how I ganged up on her, secretly tried to undermine her, judged her and didn’t play a positive role, it was clear I had poor humanity, was not worth cultivating, and according to principle, I should be replaced. I was shocked—I never imagined things would turn out that way. “Ganging up,” “secretly undermining,” “ judging,” “poor humanity,” “not worth cultivating,” these characterizations hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t believe it, much less was I willing to accept it. I just couldn’t understand: Ever since I was little, I had always been well thought of by others. How could it be that now she was saying I had poor humanity? Did I hear her wrong? That process of being exposed and dissected was like a bad dream, and I felt terribly agonized.
After being replaced, I didn’t want to face what had happened. I couldn’t accept that criticism of my humanity, didn’t think I was that kind of person and didn’t bother to reflect on myself at all. When I did discuss my replacement, I glossed over the grave nature of the situation, saying people had always said I had good humanity, and was kind and understanding. I meant that this was all just an accident and not reflective of my true nature. After that, on several occasions my leader considered assigning me to an important duty, but ultimately decided against it due to my poor humanity. This made me feel just awful, and I weepingly appealed to God: “O God, is there really no saving me? Is my humanity really that bad? Please guide me to know myself. I am willing to reflect.” After praying, I came across this passage of (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Five Conditions That Must Be Met to Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God). Through God’s words I learned that people who have God-fearing hearts will not speak and act frivolously. Even if other people threaten their interests, they will not attack or ostracize people for fear of offending God. God has no place in the hearts of those who do not fear Him, and so they do and say as they please. They punish and take revenge on anyone that threatens their interests. God says this is the disposition of an evil person. This phrase “the disposition of an evil person” really cut to the quick and scene after scene of my interactions with Wendy flooded my mind. She spoke relatively candidly and she would often give me some advice and point out my deficiencies in my duty, which made me feel like I’d lost face. As such, I felt that Wendy had poor humanity and was hard to get along with. Sometimes when Wendy didn’t respond right away when I spoke with her, I became even more convinced she had poor humanity and disliked her even more. When I heard someone say she didn’t focus on life entry, I didn’t look into the context and didn’t consider her consistent behavior, and just took the opportunity to tell this to my partners. I told them Wendy focuses on work and not life entry and is thus not suitable to serve as a leader. I wanted to draw them to my side to isolate Wendy. Thinking back now, Wendy was under a lot of pressure as the supervisor of the church’s gospel work. She had a lot of work to keep track of and sometimes she’d get agitated when there were issues in the work and they didn’t get results. Only talking about work and not focusing on fellowshiping truth principles was a deviation in her duty. It didn’t mean she wasn’t suited for the duty. But I judged Wendy with the intention of getting her replaced so that I wouldn’t have to partner with her anymore. Wasn’t I trying to punish her? What’s more, everyone gets in a bad mood sometimes. Who can be all happy-go-lucky all the time? After all, Wendy was busy with work, so it was normal that she didn’t have time to pay attention to me, it was understandable. But I made a big deal of the fact that she ignored me, and concluded that she had poor humanity and was too cold. This didn’t accord with reality—I was blindly branding her with an unwarranted label and condemning her. I also spread these ideas to the other sisters, which caused them to have ever larger biases toward Wendy. And they followed me in judging her behind her back and stopped focusing on their duties. My disposition must have been quite vicious to do things like that. When Wendy’s actions and speech threatened my interests and reputation, I condemned, attacked and took vengeance on her. I saw that I didn’t have the slightest fear of God in my heart. As a church leader, not only did I fail to partner well with my brothers and sisters and do my duty according to principle, I even took the lead in doing evil and disrupting church work. I really wasn’t worthy of doing such an important duty. I used to think I had great humanity, was kind and understanding, but that was just because other people hadn’t threatened my interests. As soon as that happened, my vicious nature was exposed and I was able to judge, attack and take vengeance on people. Only upon realizing this did I see that I had poor humanity. It was with God’s righteousness that I was replaced, I deserved that fate. After that, I opened up to my brothers and sisters, dissected the intentions behind my actions and shared my reflections on and knowledge of myself. My brothers and sisters all encouraged me. They said, “You can gain self-knowledge through replacement, this is a good thing!” I gained some knowledge of myself through that experience and felt less depressed. I was also able to accept being exposed to a degree. I prayed to God: “O God, I have truly done evil. Going forward I’m willing to repent.” After that, when I revealed my corrupt disposition when interacting with others, I would pray to God, reflect on myself, and focus on partnering harmoniously with others. I also began to seek more earnestly in my duty and my days felt full and rich. After just a few days, my upper leader came to me and said that in the past I was too arrogant, didn’t accept other people’s advice and didn’t treat people according to principle, but after being replaced, I had learned to reflect on and know myself, so everyone had agreed to let me return to my role as leader. I was so surprised when I heard this. I never imagined that I’d have another chance to serve as a leader. I couldn’t express how touched I felt and was full of gratitude to God. At the same time, I was so regretful for everything I’d done in the past. I prayed to God in my heart and resolved to repent, not repeat my past mistakes, partner well with others and put my heart into my duty. Later on, I reflected on myself again: “Why couldn’t I let go of my bias toward Wendy before and even judged her behind her back and undermined her?” One time during devotionals, I came across a passage of God’s words that said: “Firstly, with antichrists, when it comes to the matter of being dealt with and pruned, they are unable to accept it. And there are reasons they are unable to accept it, the main one being that when they are dealt with and pruned, they feel they have lost face, that they have lost their reputation, status and dignity, that they have been left unable to raise their head in the group. These things have an effect in their heart: They are loath to accept being pruned and dealt with, and they feel that whoever prunes and deals with them has it out for them and is their enemy. This is the attitude of antichrists when they are pruned and dealt with. Of this, you can be sure. It is in pruning and dealing, in fact, that whether someone can accept the truth and whether someone is truly obedient is most exposed. That antichrists are so resistant to pruning and dealing suffices to show that they are sick of the truth and do not accept it in the least. This, then, is the crux of the problem. Their pride is not the crux of the matter; not accepting the truth is the essence of the problem. When they are pruned and dealt with, antichrists demand that it be done with a nice tone and attitude. If the doer’s tone is serious and their attitude is severe, an antichrist will resist and be defiant and grow furious. They pay no mind to whether what is exposed in them is right or whether it is a fact, and they do not reflect on where they have erred or on whether they should accept the truth. They think only of whether their vanity and pride have suffered a blow. Antichrists are entirely unable to recognize that pruning and dealing are helpful to people, and loving, and salvific, that they are of benefit to people. They cannot even see this. Is this not a bit undiscriminating and unreasonable of them? So, when faced with being pruned and dealt with, what disposition is it that an antichrist pours forth? Without any doubt, that disposition is one of being sick of the truth, as well as one of arrogance and intransigence. This reveals that the nature essence of antichrists is one of being sick of the truth and hating it” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Eight)). God reveals how antichrists are too concerned with protecting their status and reputation, and when faced with pruning and dealing, they don’t reflect on and know themselves at all, instead resisting, denying, and thinking other people have it out for them. They even attack and take revenge on people—all these behaviors are displays of their dispositions which are sick of and hate the truth. Applying the revelation of God’s words to my situation, I saw that my judgment, undermining, attacking, and avenging of Wendy were all displays of my antichrist disposition. When I was partnered with Wendy, she would often give me advice and point out my deficiencies, but she wasn’t dealing with me. I didn’t reflect on whether what Wendy said was true, whether I’d done wrong or what I could learn from what she’d said. Instead, I would always just glare at her, thinking she had it out for me and looked down on me. I even concluded that she had poor humanity. I didn’t recognize my own issues at all. At that time, I was serving as church leader and also split my time supervising general affairs, but because I felt that I wasn’t well-versed in general affairs, I didn’t bother to manage or inquire about that work, nor did I seek out others who were skilled in that area for help. I was failing to do practical work—Wendy was right to bring this up! When Wendy brought up deviations in my work and gave me some suggestions, she was helping me improve. Yet, I only considered my reputation and status and felt that she was questioning my abilities. I even took her reminders and assistance personally, and sought to get back at her by rallying others to my side, and getting people to judge and ostracize Wendy with me, all of which was harmful to Wendy. This also created a contentious atmosphere that prevented everyone from being able to focus on their duty and disrupted the church’s work. Wasn’t I just playing the role of Satan? I should truly have been cursed and punished! I thought of how some classic characteristics of evildoers and antichrists who had been cleared out from the church were their being sick of and hating the truth, failed to accept situations from God, getting hung up on people threatening their interests and thinking those people have it out for them, nitpicking over their every action and criticizing them, and failing to reflect and gain self-knowledge at all when others often reminded them, helped them or dealt with and pruned them. What’s more, they hated whoever tried to correct them and attacked and ostracized them, disturbing those around them, disrupting the church’s work and ultimately doing so much evil that they were cleared out. These are all consequences of not accepting and being sick of the truth—they all got what they deserve! Given these characteristics, was I not just acting like an evildoer and an antichrist? I realized that I was truly corrupt and had poor humanity. I felt so afraid, I was in a terribly precarious situation and if I didn’t repent God would loathe me and cast me out. I had to seize the chance to repent and do my best to pursue the truth, approach situations with a God-fearing heart, seek the truth, reflect on and know myself, be prudent in how I spoke, and set good intentions in my interactions. I came before God in prayer and said I would stop acting how I had before, and that I was willing to accept God’s scrutiny and truly repent.: “In which matters in your daily lives do you have a God-fearing heart? And in which matters do you not? Are you able to hate someone when they offend you or impinge on your interests? And when you hate someone, are you capable of punishing them and getting revenge? (Yes.) Then you are quite scary! If you do not have a God-fearing heart, and are able to do evil things, then this vicious disposition of yours is far too severe! Love and hatred are things which normal humanity should possess, but you must differentiate clearly between what you love and what you hate. In your heart, you should love God, love the truth, love positive things, and love your brothers and sisters, whereas you should hate the devil Satan, hate negative things, hate antichrists, and hate wicked people. If you are capable of suppressing and taking revenge on your brothers and sisters out of hatred, this would be very frightening, and this is the disposition of an evil person. Some people simply have hateful thoughts and ideas—evil ideas, but they would never do anything evil. These are not evil people because when something happens, they are able to seek the truth, and they pay attention to the principles in how they conduct themselves and deal with things. When interacting with others, they do not ask more of them than they should; if they get along with the person well, they will keep interacting with them; if they do not get along, then they won’t. It barely affects the performance of their duty or their life entry. God is in their heart and they have a God-fearing heart. They are unwilling to offend God, and are afraid to do so. Though these people might harbor certain incorrect thoughts and ideas, they are able to reject or abandon them. They exercise restraint in their actions, and do not utter a single word that is out of line, or which offends God. Someone who speaks and acts this way is someone who has principles and who practices the truth. Your personality might be incompatible with another person’s, and you may not like them, but when you work together with them, you remain impartial and will not vent your frustrations in doing your duty, or take out your frustrations on the interests of God’s family; you can handle affairs according to principles. What is this a manifestation of? It is a manifestation of having a basic God-fearing heart. If you have a bit more than that, when you see that someone else has some inadequacies or weaknesses, then even if they have offended you or have a bias against you, you still have it in you to treat them correctly and lovingly help them. This means there is love in you, that you are a person who possesses humanity, that you are someone who is kind and who can practice the truth, that you are an honest person who possesses truth realities, and that you are someone with a God-fearing heart. If you are still of small stature but you have a will, and are willing to strive for the truth, and to strive to do things according to principle, and you are able to deal with things and act toward others with principle, then this also counts as having somewhat of a God-fearing heart; this is most fundamental. If you cannot even achieve this, and cannot restrain yourself, then you are in great danger and are quite frightening. If you were given a position, you could punish people and give them a hard time; you would then be liable to turn into an antichrist at any moment”
Later on, I came upon another passage of God’s words, that helped me understand how to judge a person’s humanity and how to treat people that speak frankly and give me advice. God says, “You must draw close to people who can tell you the truth. Having that kind of person by your side has so many benefits, especially those who, having found out that you have a problem, dare to criticize and expose you. Having that kind of good person by your side can keep you from going astray. If they discover that you have done something that violates the principles of the truth, they will criticize you as needed, and expose you as needed, regardless of your status. That is an upstanding person with a sense of justice. No matter how they expose and criticize you, it can all help you, supervise you, and spur you on. You must draw near to that kind of person. With that kind of person by your side to help you, you are much safer. That is the protection of God. … When your actions violate principle, these people expose you, give you advice, and point out your problems openly and unreservedly. They are not afraid of hurting your pride, and will even embarrass you in front of a crowd and back you into a corner. How should you treat such people? Should you crack down on them, or should you keep them close? (Keep them close.) That is right, but do not go out of your way to do so—that is a bit false. When you are in a bad mood, it is fine to stay away from them for a while; wait until you understand to go and fellowship with them: ‘Your suggestion was right; I had vanity and concern for status in my heart. I thought that since I’ve been a leader all these years, you should have spared my pride in front of all those people, but now I see my actions really were at odds with principle and without the truth, and I shouldn’t have done them. What is the point of having such status? Is it not duty? We’re all equal. I just have a little more responsibility than you do, that’s all. In the future, say what you must. There’s no ill will between us. In the house of God, before God, and before the truth, we are united, and there is nothing between us.’ This is the attitude of practicing and loving the truth. What should you do if you wish to shun the path of the antichrists? You should actively draw close to upstanding people who love the truth. You should draw close to people who can give you advice, and who can tell the truth and criticize you when they discover a problem, and especially people who can prune and deal with you when they discover a problem. This is a person who can be of the greatest benefit to you, and you should cherish them. If you reject this kind of good person and remove them from view, you will lose God’s protection, and misfortune will slowly draw near. If you draw close to good people and those who understand the truth, you will have peace and happiness, and steer clear of misfortune. If you draw close to base people, to the shameless and to flatterers, then you are in danger. You are not only liable to be fooled and cheated, but misfortune may befall you at any time. You must know who is of the greatest benefit to you. Someone who points out when you do something wrong, and when you exalt and testify about yourself and try to deceive others, is the kind of person that benefits you the most, and drawing close to them is the correct path” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Four). Through God’s words, I realized that people with a sense of righteousness that uphold the truth principle can point out when their brothers and sisters have issues or deficiencies, and can deal with, prune, expose and dissect people when they go against principles in their actions, such people have good humanity and I should keep close to them. If someone is outwardly loving, gets along well with people, doesn’t offend anyone and is well-liked, but when they observe something happening that doesn’t accord with principle or harms the church’s interests and they choose to protect their relationships and do not stand up, expose and stop the problem, they are selfish and deceitful and are not protecting the interests of God’s house. I thought of how I always judged people’s humanity based on whether they were amiable, and whether they spoke in a way that preserved people’s dignity, but this judgment was not in keeping with the truth. I realized that it was righteous of Wendy to often point out my issues and deficiencies. Despite the fact that Wendy spoke in a very direct way, she spoke the truth and could point out my issues, this would help me perform my duty and improve my life entry. I should spend more time with her and listen to her suggestions. After that, I apologized to Wendy. I knew the damage I’d caused her was irrevocable, but if I had another chance to partner with her, I would cherish the opportunity.
Later on, I was partnered up with brother Leonard. Leonard had good caliber and was quite responsible in his duty. If he saw me deviating in my duty, he would point it out to me in front of the others. At first, despite feeling a bit embarrassed, I was able to take his criticism as a lesson from God. But as time went on, and the pattern continued, I began to become a bit fed up. Sometimes Leonard would be a bit scornful in his criticism, and would find fault in my work. I felt so embarrassed, like he had seen right through me and I no longer wanted to partner with him. I thought he was too arrogant and his tone of voice was unacceptable. A few times while discussing my partnership with others, I had wanted to disparage Leonard, but just as I would be about to say something I’d realize I was wrong—There was certainly much that I could enter into in Leonard’s criticism. So, I prayed to God, set good intentions and sought how to partner with Leonard in a way that accorded with God’s will. I couldn’t judge Leonard with ill intentions. Later on, I came across a passage of God’s words that was quite helpful to me. “When you discover you are doing something wrong or have the outpouring of a corrupt disposition, if you are able to open up to and communicate with people, this will help those around you to keep an eye on you. It is certainly necessary to accept supervision, but the main thing is to pray to God and rely on Him, subjecting yourself to constant reflection. Especially when you have gone the wrong way or done something wrong, or when you are about to act or decide something on your own, and someone nearby mentions it and alerts you, you need to accept that and hasten to reflect on yourself, and admit to your mistake, and correct it. This can keep you from setting foot on the path of antichrists. If there is someone helping and alerting you in this way, are you not being preserved without knowing it? You are—that is your preservation” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). God’s words reminded me that having someone by my side with a sense of righteousness that had the confidence to speak directly and promptly point out my deficiencies was a form of protection, that it would prevent me from going astray and was God’s love. The right thing to do was accept the situation! During that period, I had been content just to do some insubstantial work. but I had failed to pay a price in doing any substantial work of watering newcomers. Leonard’s frequent reminders had made me a bit more pragmatic in my duty. I had also gained a lot from the paths of practice Leonard had told me about. I realized that his help and advice were really valuable. Given that I did not possess truth, still had severely corrupt dispositions and could do wrong at any time, having Leonard to watch over me was a real boost and would prevent me from doing a lot of evil. Realizing this, I felt ready to resolve the deviations in my duty and gained a better attitude toward Leonard’s advice. I sent him a message that said: “Going forward, please let me know if you notice anything problematic about me. I might feel a bit embarrassed, but it would be helpful for me.” Looking back now, God had placed many such people at my side in these past years, but I had always wanted to avoid them because I thought they were hard to get along with. In fact, it was that I was a poor judge of people, didn’t know how to evaluate or treat people, and so I unwittingly lost out on opportunities to learn from my partners. When God once again orchestrated this situation, I finally came to understand His will, was able to treat others with principle and I felt so much more liberated! I gave thanks to God in my heart!