You Can’t Discern a Person by Their Appearance
By Yang Rui, Shanxi Province
In my heart, I always believed my father to be a good man. But one day, I unexpectedly heard that my father was expelled from the church. I was totally stunned at the time and couldn’t figure it out: Although he has a bad temper, he took great care of us sisters and never beat or scolded us. Despite our family’s struggles, he would not let us suffer no matter how much suffering he had to endure. After our whole family accepted God’s work in the last days, my father was proactive in fulfilling his duty, and often encouraged us to diligently fulfill our own duties. Though my father was sometimes a little arrogant, as long as there was a duty to fulfill, regardless of the wind and rain or the extent of the difficulty, he would find a way to complete it. How could such a good person get expelled? The situation filled my heart with resentment and conflict, and I felt the church was not treating my father fairly. Although I did not say it, I found it difficult to calm my heart, and I agonized in torment.
One day, I read the following in God’s words: “It may be that in all your years of faith in God, you have never cursed anyone or committed a bad deed, yet in your association with Christ, you cannot speak the truth, act honestly, or obey the word of Christ; in that case, I say that you are the most sinister and malicious person in the world. You may be exceptionally amiable and devoted toward your relatives, friends, wife (or husband), sons and daughters, and parents, and never take advantage of others, but if you are incapable of compatibility with Christ, if you are unable to interact in harmony with Him, then even if you expend your all in relief to your neighbors or take meticulous care of your father, mother, and members of your household, I would say that you are still wicked, and moreover one full of cunning tricks. Do not think yourself compatible with Christ simply because you get along with others or do a few good deeds. Do you think that your charitable intent can finagle the blessings of Heaven? Do you think that doing a few good deeds is a substitute for your obedience?” (“Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reflecting on God’s words, I gradually understood: To see if a person is good or wicked, look at not whether their outward behavior is good or bad or how their relationships are with other people. Rather, look at their relationship with God, and whether they have true obedience to and fear of God, and whether they are compatible with God. Someone may have a good relationship with others, frequently help others and treat them with love, but if they can’t be compatible with God, if they don’t pursue the truth in their faith, if they adulterate their duty with their own personal motives, and if they judge and resist God when His work isn’t in line with their notions, then that person is a hypocrite. They are a crafty, two-faced evil person. With this understanding, I began to recall some expressions my father had made: While he was in his former church, my father had been a leader. After accepting God’s work in the last days, because the brothers and sisters of the church did not elect him to be a leader he was deeply dissatisfied. In order to regain the “throne” of being a leader, he started to actively present himself well to others. He did whatever the church arranged for him to do. Later, when his wish was not realized, he showed his true colors, always acting extremely conceited in the church, never listening to anyone, and always forcing people to listen to him no matter what. If he saw a worker who did not fit his liking, he would judge, belittle, and undermine them. He’d also sow disaffection among the brothers and sisters, grievously interrupting and upsetting the life of the church. Multiple times, the leaders and workers fellowshiped the truth with him, pruned and dealt with him, and gave him warnings—but he remained totally oblivious, much less did he show any regret. Isn’t this the behavior of the wicked? Just as God said: “The standard by which humans judge other humans is based on their behavior; those whose conduct is good are righteous, while those whose conduct is abominable are wicked. The standard by which God judges humans is based on whether their essence submits to Him or not; one who submits to God is a righteous person, while one who does not is an enemy and a wicked person, regardless of whether this person’s behavior is good or bad and regardless of whether their speech is correct or incorrect” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When compared against God’s words, my father’s behavior was not obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and he was also causing disruption to the church for the sake of vying for power and status and was committing all manner of wickedness. Such an essence is one that resists God and belongs to an evil person. I used to think my father was a good person, but this was all because my outlook had not been based on God’s words and I had always been deceived and fooled by how he appeared to be on the outside; I hadn’t thoroughly understood my father’s nature and essence. From God’s words, I came to understand that my father caring about me and looking after me in all things, and being able to fulfill his duty, were all external behavior and were external good deeds. However, his external good deeds did not equate to obeying God, and moreover could not be called righteous. Only someone who truly believes in God and pursues the truth, who can be obedient no matter what kind of environment they encounter, and who is happy to accept God’s judgment and chastisement is someone who is truly obedient to God. Only that is a good person who can be saved by God. My father only had himself to blame for being expelled from the church. It was because of his terrible nature and he had no one else to blame. Moreover, this was a manifestation of God’s righteous disposition.
After going through this I understood some truths related to discernment and learned how to have discernment on people. I also saw that God’s disposition is holy and righteous, and will tolerate no offense. I particularly realized that without the truth it’s impossible to really see through the people, events, and things around me. From now on, no matter what befalls me, I will seek the truth more in God’s words and look at things according to God’s words. Even if I cannot thoroughly understand the things God does, I believe all that He does is right. I will no longer analyze and scrutinize them from their outward appearances. I will stand on the side of the truth, constantly cautioning myself to stand witness for God.