How to Resolve Selfishness
By Zhang Jing, Czech Republic
Almighty God says, “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are evaluated as good or evil? It depends on whether or not you, in your thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then you are without a doubt an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat Satan; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying of God, not expending yourself for God, or meeting your responsibility toward God. You act for your own sake. What is the implication of ‘for your own sake’? For Satan. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds; rather, your behavior has turned evil. You will not be rewarded; God will not remember you. Is this not completely in vain?” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I can see from God’s words that we may expend ourselves and suffer a bit for our duty, but if our motive in this isn’t to satisfy God and we don’t have any testimony of practicing the truth, but just satisfy ourselves, then God sees this as doing evil. It’s disgusting to Him. A couple years ago I noticed a sister was being disruptive to the church’s work, but I didn’t dare practice the truth or uphold principles. I was afraid of offending her. I didn’t expose and report her actions in time, and this harmed our gospel work. It was wrongdoing on my part, too. I’m filled with remorse and self-reproach every time I think about it.
It was late March 2018 when Sister Chen joined our team as the team leader. After a little while, I discovered that she didn’t take on responsibility in her duty. Sometimes someone we preached to wanted to investigate God’s work of the last days and she wouldn’t promptly arrange fellowship and testimony. This held up the gospel work. I sought her out to give her fellowship but I barely touched on her issues, afraid she’d take it poorly. She explained it away, saying she still had another duty and couldn’t keep up, but she’d do better in the future. I saw right away that she was taking it too lightly. She didn’t see the seriousness of the problem. I figured I had to say something more so it wouldn’t happen again and hold up the church’s work. But just as I was about to open my mouth, I thought, “She’s in charge, and I’m just a team member. If I point out her problem won’t she think I’m out of line, a busybody, and say I’m arrogant and unreasonable? Forget about it. I won’t say anything. She’s in charge, so she should know how important this duty is. She’ll take care of things in the future.” I felt a little uneasy, but I didn’t bring it up with her again.
It wasn’t long before a preacher from the Sola Fide Church wanted to look into God’s work of the last days. Time was really tight, but at this critical moment, I couldn’t get in touch with Sister Chen. I rushed to find another gospel team leader to provide fellowship. After Sister Chen found out, she reprimanded me harshly, saying, “Why did you get another team’s leader to take care of it? It’s my problem that I didn’t get it done in time and any issues are my responsibility. Bringing someone else in doesn’t accord with the principles.” I wanted to talk about this issue in fellowship with her but changed my mind, thinking, “If I criticize her right after she’s dealt with and scolded me, what will she think of me? We see each other all the time—if we’re at an impasse she’ll probably make things difficult for me. Forget it. It’s better to have one less worry. I’ll just do my own duty well.” So, I held back what I wanted to say to her.
A month or so later, a co-worker in a Christian church became interested in Almighty God’s work. I reminded Sister Chen about it several times. I said, “You have to arrange for someone to give him fellowship.” She agreed at the time, but to my surprise, two days passed without her setting anything up. I was so angry. I thought, “I told you so many times and I told you it was urgent. Why didn’t you take it remotely seriously? No, I can’t keep idly watching our gospel work being hindered this way. I have to discuss it with brothers and sisters on the team and see what we can do about her problem.” But I felt conflicted again just as I was about to get in touch with the others. If Sister Chen found out I was discussing this with everyone, she might think I was intentionally targeting her. If I offended her she might retaliate and find an excuse to dismiss me from my duty. I figured the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. I decided to wait until someone else brought it up.
That evening, thinking about how many things Sister Chen had let slide, I started feeling really anxious, but still didn’t dare speak up. I really hadn’t been taking care of my responsibilities. Feeling uneasy, I came before God in prayer. I read these words from God after praying: “The most fundamental and important components of one’s humanity are conscience and reason. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity, a person of bad humanity. Let’s analyze this closely. How does this person manifest corrupt humanity such that people say he has no humanity? What characteristics do such people possess? What specific manifestations do they present? Such people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and they have no sense of responsibility. … There are even people who, upon seeing a problem in the performance of their duty, remain silent. They see that others are causing interruptions and disturbances, yet do nothing to stop them. They do not consider the interests of God’s house in the least, nor do they at all think about their own duties or responsibilities. They speak, act, stand out, put forth effort, and expend energy only for their own vanity, prestige, position, interests, and honor. … Does this kind of person have conscience and reason? Does a person without conscience and reason who behaves in this way feel self-reproach? The conscience of this kind of person serves no purpose, and they have never felt self-reproach. So, can they feel the reproach or discipline of the Holy Spirit?” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words went straight to the heart. Wasn’t I precisely the kind of person God was exposing? I lacked conscience, humanity, and I was irresponsible in my duty. I’d adopted an attitude of cool indifference to protect my own interests. I wasn’t being considerate to God’s will or upholding the church’s work. I knew well that Sister Chen wasn’t serious about her duty and just muddled through, and she’d already harmed our gospel work. I should have pointed this out in fellowship. But I was afraid she’d say I should mind my own business, so I just skimmed over her problems. She didn’t remotely change after that. I wanted to mention it again, to dissect the nature and consequences of doing her duty that way, but I was afraid I’d offend her, then she might make things difficult for me and get me dismissed from my duty. I turned a blind eye and brushed it off. I hadn’t dared stand up for the sake of God’s house just to protect my own face, status, and interests, while I watched a team leader muddle through her duty. Where was my conscience? Disasters are getting worse and worse, so there must be more people investigating the true way. Getting people to accept God’s salvation of the last days is an urgent priority. But I wasn’t taking responsibility for this. I just wanted to protect myself, not the interests of God’s house. That wasn’t being considerate of God’s will. I was so selfish. These thoughts left me feeling that I’d really let God down. I thought, “I can’t keep on like this. I have to find a way to resolve this problem.” I reached out to some brothers and sisters on the team to discuss it and see how we could address Sister Chen’s issue. Everyone unanimously agreed that she should have someone working with her to share the load. That way they could help each other and keep an eye on each other.
That same afternoon, I called Sister Chen and told her about what we’d discussed, and went into detail about her recent performance and the damage she’d done to the gospel work. To my surprise, Sister Chen didn’t have the slightest regret or remorse for her behavior, but flat-out rejected our plan. She stubbornly said she didn’t need anyone to work with her. Seeing she had no self-awareness, I continued to fellowship with her, but before I could even finish, she said she had something to do and hung up. I was thinking, “Sister Chen has status but doesn’t do practical work and doesn’t want a partner. Isn’t that tyrannical? If this goes on, the work of God’s house will be held up. I have to point out this problem to her.” For the next few days, I kept sending her messages but she never responded. I was just watching the work of God’s house be held up. I was thinking I couldn’t lose any time in reporting this to the church leader, but just as I was about to do that, I wanted to turn tail again. I thought, “If Sister Chen finds out I was the one who talked to the leader, what will happen? What will I do if she’s offended and finds an excuse to dismiss me from my duty? And what if the brothers and sisters say I’m always on Sister Chen’s case and I’m not treating her fairly?” I felt really conflicted. If I didn’t say something, I’d just be watching the team’s work flounder. But if I did say something, I might offend her. Right then, a sister came to ask me if I was interested in joining another team. I thought, “Doing another duty would be great, then I could leave my team behind. I wouldn’t feel guilty and tormented every day.” I shared my thoughts with another sister on the team later. She heard me out and then said, “You’re the most senior member of our team and you’re most familiar with the work. Sister Chen is turning a blind eye to our team’s issues. Do you really think it’s the right time to leave?” I felt terrible when she said this. I realized that I did know the team’s work better than anyone else, and I was just idly watching the work of God’s house be disrupted. I not only turned a blind eye but wanted to turn tail. That wasn’t protecting the interests of God’s house. I came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me.
I read a couple of passages of God’s words in my devotionals after that. God says, “You must enter from the side of positivity; be active and not passive. You must be unshaken by anyone or anything, in all situations, and you must not be influenced by anyone’s words. You must have a stable disposition; no matter what people say, you must immediately put into practice what you know to be the truth. You must always have My words at work inside of you, regardless of whom you might be facing; you must be able to stand firm in your testimony to Me and show consideration for My burdens. You must not be confused, agreeing blindly with people without having your own ideas; rather, you must have the courage to stand up and object to those things that do not come from Me. If you know clearly that something is wrong, yet you keep silent, then you are not a person who practices the truth. If you know that something is wrong, but then twist the topic around and are blocked by Satan, causing you to speak without any effect and to be unable to persevere until the end, then this means you still carry fear in your heart. Is it not then the case that your heart is still filled with Satan’s ideas?” (“Chapter 12” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading question after question, I felt like God was standing right in front of me, calling me to account. Every word was a blow. I was also asking myself, “Have I been considerate of God’s burden? Have I practiced righteousness for God? Have I steadfastly practiced the truth?” The answers were all “No.” I’d been elevated to do such an important duty by God’s grace, so I should take responsibility and work with brothers and sisters to do it well. I saw the team leader muddle through, holding up the gospel work time and again. She was a false leader who didn’t do practical work. I should have stood up and reported her. But I was afraid of offending her and losing my duty, so I buried my head in the sand and just watched her disrupt the work of God’s house. I didn’t take a stand to protect it. I was so selfish and despicable. I had no sense of justice or responsibility! I protected my face and status at every turn. Even though I’d never disrupted the gospel work of God’s house like Sister Chen, I kept quiet on a problem I saw and didn’t practice the truth. Wasn’t that standing on Satan’s side, just letting it sabotage the work of God’s house? Wasn’t I favoring an outsider, biting the hand that fed me to act as Satan’s helper? That thought really made me hate myself. How could I have been so selfish, so devoid of humanity? I knew I couldn’t keep on like that. I couldn’t keep walking on eggshells, just protecting myself. I had to practice the truth, be a person with a sense of justice, stand on God’s side and protect the interests of His house. I decided to report Sister Chen at that moment. Just then, I heard from a sister that some new believers had become weak and negative after hearing rumors. Sister Chen hadn’t coordinated fellowship and testimony for them in time, so they’d nearly given up their faith because they’d been misled. I despised myself when I heard this. This was the terrible consequence of me not practicing the truth! After that, some of us from the team all told the church leader about Sister Chen’s issues together. I was surprised that he looked into it and dismissed her that same day. The leader reprimanded me later, saying, “She’s been holding things up this long, but you never spoke up about it?” I was even more regretful and guilty when I heard that.
I later reflected on myself, on why I knew she wasn’t responsible in her duty and always held up the work of God’s house, but never stood up to expose and report her. What was the root of me not practicing the truth? I read these words from God: “For example, why are you selfish? Why do you protect your own position? Why are your emotions so strong? Why do you like those unrighteous things? Why do you like those evils? What is the basis for your liking such things? Where do these things come from? Why are you so happy to accept them? By now, you all have come to understand that the main reason behind all these things is that they contain Satan’s poison. As for what Satan’s poison is, it can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers why they act that way, they will answer, ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. The logic of Satan has become people’s lives. They may do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. People all think that since it is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, they should live for their own sakes, doing everything in their power to secure a good position and what food and clothing they need. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. This statement is precisely Satan’s poison, and when internalized by people, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they completely represent it. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this poison for thousands of years” (“How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words showed me the reason behind not practicing the truth was that I was filled with Satan’s philosophies for living, like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes,” “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally,” “The less trouble, the better,” and “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” They’d become a part of me long ago. They’d become my life. I’d become selfish, crafty, and self-interested because I’d been living by those things. I just couldn’t help but protect my own interests in the face of a problem. Before I was a believer, in my professional and personal life, as soon as I was afraid something might offend someone, even if they did something wrong, I’d stay silent. I kept living by these satanic philosophies even after becoming a believer. I couldn’t help but be protective over my interests in my duty, then I couldn’t practice the truth. Sister Chen was an example of that. I saw she wasn’t doing practical work and couldn’t take feedback, that she was a false leader, so I should’ve taken a stand and reported her. But I was afraid my report wouldn’t get anywhere and I’d lose my duty. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down,” and “The less trouble, the better” were my life philosophies. I was a coward. I let an irresponsible person disrupt things without daring to take a stand. I’d been so selfish and deceitful. Doing my duty and protecting the interests of God’s house is a positive thing and it’s in line with God’s will. When someone is disruptive to the work of God’s house, it’s exactly the time to stand on God’s side and protect His interests. God requires this of His chosen. It’s my duty and responsibility. But I was afraid of sticking my neck out, of compromising my interests, so I didn’t dare stand up for the work of God’s house. I didn’t fulfill my duty or responsibilities. What kind of believer was I? I didn’t stick my neck out, but instead compromised with Satan and buried my head in the sand. I allowed an irresponsible person to disrupt the work of God’s house. I didn’t dare take a stand. I didn’t have any backbone at all. I was living without any integrity or dignity. I saw very clearly that she was disrupting the work of God’s house, but I not only turned a blind eye but wanted to run away from it. Wasn’t that standing on Satan’s side, opposing God? That’s a major transgression to God. Really thinking about it, I couldn’t practice the truth and I was afraid I’d lose my duty if I reported Sister Chen. But what really happened was that after we all reported Sister Chen she was dismissed right away. This fact made me feel ashamed and it showed me that in God’s house, Christ and the truth prevail. It’s a bright and just rule. Anyone who doesn’t practice the truth and hinders the work of God’s house can’t gain a foothold there. They’ll be eliminated at some point if they don’t repent. But I wasn’t looking at the things based on the principles of the truth. I was just constrained by power and status. I saw the person in charge as my superior and thought that if I offended her, I wouldn’t be able to gain a foothold in God’s house. I thought God’s house was just as dark as the world, without any fairness or justice. Wasn’t I blaspheming God? Without God exposing me by setting up that environment, without the judgment and chastisement of His words, I still wouldn’t know what terrible consequences come from living by satanic philosophies. Something I really learned from this is that, as a believer, living by God’s words, practicing the truth, and upholding principles really brings me peace and tranquility. It’s also a righteous thing that a believer should do. Later on, all of us in the team fellowshiped on what we’d experienced and gained. Everyone had learned lessons to varying degrees, especially about God’s righteous disposition. The work in our team gradually took a turn for the better.
In my duty after that, after over a month of discussions on church work with Sister Liu, the leader of another team, I found that she was arrogant and autocratic. She hardly ever accepted other people’s suggestions and she’d already disrupted the work of God’s house. I knew that I should let the church leader know this time. But then I thought, “We haven’t worked together very long, so I don’t know her all that well. Could I be wrong about this? What if it’s looked into and it turns out she doesn’t have a big problem? What will the leader and the others think of me? Will they think I’m nitpicking? And what would Sister Liu think of me if she found out? Never mind, I shouldn’t say anything.” I was just about to sweep this under the rug but I felt really accused by my conscience. I remembered how before the gospel work had really been compromised because I hadn’t reported Sister Chen in time. I deeply regretted that. I thought, “I can’t live according to my selfish, despicable disposition. I can’t be left with regrets this time.” A passage of God’s words occurred to me just then: “For each of you fulfilling your duty, no matter how profoundly you understand the truth, if you wish to enter the reality of the truth, then the simplest way to practice is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything you do, and to let go of your selfish desires, your individual intent, motives, face, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least you should do. If a person performing their duty cannot do even this much, then how can they be said to be performing their duty? This is not performing one’s duty. You should first consider the interests of God’s house, consider God’s own interests, and consider His work, and put these considerations first and foremost; only after that can you think about the stability of your status or how others see you” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words gave me a path of practice, which is putting the interests of God’s house first without considering my own. I shouldn’t care what others think of me, but do what’s right for the work of God’s house. We hadn’t known each other long and I didn’t know her all that well, but I really had seen that her behavior had disrupted the work of God’s house. I knew I should share what I’d seen, correct my motives, and fulfill my duty and responsibilities. I later told the leader about Sister Liu’s issues and after investigating it, she was dismissed in accordance with the principles. I felt assured and comforted when I heard the news and I felt I’d upheld the interests of God’s house. I also really experienced that the only way to live meaningfully is to live by God’s words.