Now I Can Speak From the Heart
By Matthew, France
When I was performing my duty alongside another brother or sister, if I noticed a personal flaw or that they did something that wasn’t in line with the truth, I knew full well that I should give a reminder or help, but I usually avoided these kinds of issues in an effort to avoid offending anyone. Not too long ago, some things happened that had made me realize the harm and consequences of such behavior and helped me turn around.
You know, recently, at the end of a gathering one day, the sister in charge told us that we needed to prepare to select a few people from among those of us doing watering duty who would go spread the gospel, and she stressed the importance of both watering and gospel work. She asked us to give it serious consideration in light of the principles and then discuss it as a group and come to a decision. To my surprise, Brother James, whom I worked with in my duty, called me first thing the following morning and told me that he had already chosen a handful of brothers and sisters and had arranged for them to get together. He asked me to join him in fellowshiping with them on the change in their duties. Hearing him say this, I thought to myself, “Isn’t this kind of a rash, impulsive decision on your part? We haven’t all discussed this together, and besides, everyone’s doing their own individual duty now. If you just blindly make this change and it turns out not to be the right choice, won’t that impact the church’s work?” I wanted to tell Brother James what I really thought, but I started to feel conflicted when I heard how excited he sounded over the phone. It might upset him if I told him that he was making the decision too rashly and that he shouldn’t do things in such a shortsighted way. If I turned down his invitation, wouldn’t he feel like I was shooting down his idea and think I was being arrogant? Held back by those kinds of thoughts, I didn’t say a single word. In spite of my concerns about what he proposed, I still accepted his invitation and agreed to host gatherings with him to fellowship with the brothers and sisters.
After hanging up the phone, I saw this passage of (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 12). You know, I felt like those words had been spoken directly to me. It was a really profound experience of how God truly can see into the depths of our hearts. Wasn’t I exactly the kind of person exposed in God’s words, who knows clearly that something is wrong but keeps silent? No, I shouldn’t be such a person anymore. So I got up the courage and intended to speak up. But when I thought about how enthusiastic Brother James was, I was afraid he would feel like I was butting heads with him if I stood in his way. After a bout of inner conflict, I just soothed myself, thinking that I couldn’t be so sure I was in the right. There might be something that I wasn’t seeing. And so, I abandoned the truth, disregarded the reprimand from God, and didn’t say anything to Brother James. I later went along with Brother James’ plan and began organizing the work.that had been shared in a WhatsApp group: says, “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”
In the meantime, I told the sister in charge about it. After hearing about it, she got both James and me online at once and sternly rebuked us, saying, “There are particular requirements for planning and arranging staff changes. People have to be chosen for sharing the gospel or for watering duty according to their personal strengths so that the church’s work isn’t hindered. You guys just haphazardly telling a bunch of people to go share the gospel is throwing the church’s work into chaos, isn’t it? You didn’t seek the truth principles or discuss it with everyone. This is, in essence, behaving wantonly.” You know, I felt really upset and guilty when I heard her say this. I knew that was God pruning and dealing with me, and she was absolutely right. We were behaving wantonly and not following the principles. Through self-reflection, I finally realized that I should refuse and put a stop to anything that didn’t benefit the church, and even if I didn’t fully understand something, I should still speak my mind and engage in seeking and fellowshiping alongside everyone else. I couldn’t just blindly follow along, as that could disrupt the church’s work. But in my effort to protect my relationship with Brother James and make sure he didn’t think poorly of me, I had been ready to hinder the church’s work before pointing out his issue, even turning my back on the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance. I saw how crafty, selfish, and despicable I was. The more I thought about it, the more foolish I felt, and I was filled with disgust and loathing for myself.
In my reflection on this later on, I wondered why I was always protecting my own interests instead of practicing the truth. In my distress, I came before God in prayer: “Oh God, I do things by my satanic disposition. I don’t practice the truth even when it’s very clear to me. I see how deeply I have been corrupted by Satan. Oh God, please save me.” And later on, I saw this passage of God’s words: “People who genuinely believe in God are those who are willing to put God’s word into practice and are willing to practice the truth. People who are truly able to stand firm in their testimony to God are also those who are willing to put His word into practice and can genuinely stand on the side of the truth. People who resort to trickery and injustice all lack the truth, and they all bring shame to God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth). “God’s family does not allow those who do not practice the truth to remain, nor does it allow to remain those who deliberately dismantle the church. However, now is not the time to do the work of expulsion; such people will simply be exposed and eliminated in the end. No more useless work is to be expended on these people; those who belong to Satan cannot stand on the side of the truth, whereas those who seek the truth can. People who do not practice the truth are unworthy of hearing the way of the truth and unworthy of bearing witness to the truth. The truth is simply not for their ears; rather, it is directed at those who practice it” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth). You know, God’s words were incredibly poignant for me. A true believer in God is willing to practice God’s word, and in the face of an issue they can seek the truth and put it into practice, standing on God’s side. Those who do not practice the truth follow their corrupt satanic dispositions, standing on Satan’s side and undermining the church. I realized that by being a people pleaser and failing to practice the truth, I was standing on Satan’s side. Every time I encountered a situation that required me to stand up to protect the interests of the church, I refused to put the truth into practice out of fear of offending people or losing the place I held in their hearts. I knew that if I kept on that way, I would end up spurned and eliminated by God. You know, at that point, I only realized the nature of things done by people pleasers, but still had hardly any understanding of the root of my satanic corruption, so God pointed out my shortcomings once again through a brother in order to help me know myself better.
I remember, once when Brother Michael and I were doing watering duty together, he opened up and shared, “Brother Matthew, we’ve had less and less teamwork lately. You hardly ever point out my flaws, and you don’t say anything when you see me doing something that’s not in line with the truth. How can I experience any growth that way? I need help seeing problems and I need to be pruned and dealt with to have any progress.” You know, I felt terrible when he said that, and I played out all of our interactions in my head. I had noticed recently that he was doing things by rote in his duty just going through the motions in gatherings for new believers. He just directly fellowshiped on whatever topic we had planned to talk about without making any adjustments on the spot based on their actual issues and difficulties, based on the principles of resolving problems and making gains. The outcomes of those gatherings were not ideal and some of the newcomers couldn’t get their issues resolved in a timely manner. I hadn’t mentioned any of that to him, afraid I would offend him and he’d have a chip on his shoulder toward me. I skirted around all of those problems. And you know, Brother Michael was right—I had seen his issues but never told him about them. I was being a people pleaser, acting like everybody’s best friend. I knew that thinking like a people pleaser continued to control me, preventing me from practicing the truth. Unsure of what to do, I said this prayer to God: “Oh God, please guide me to know my own corrupt nature and cast off the shackles of my corrupt satanic disposition.”
After that, I read a passage of God’s words. God’s word says: “How do you understand man’s nature? The most important thing is to discern it from the perspective of man’s world view, life view, and values. Those who are of the devil all live for themselves. Their life view and maxims mainly come from Satan’s sayings, such as, ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ The words spoken by those devil kings, great ones, and philosophers of the earth have become man’s very life. … Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of national governments and of the famous and great. Their devilish words have become man’s life nature. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’ is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone, and that has become man’s life. There are other words of philosophies for living that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s traditional culture to educate, deceive, and corrupt people, causing mankind to fall into and be engulfed by a boundless abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God. Imagine asking someone who has been active in society for decades the following question: ‘Given that you have lived in the world for so long and achieved so much, what are the main famous sayings that you live by?’ He might say, ‘The most important one is, “Officials do not make things difficult for those who bear gifts, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.”’ Are these words not representative of that person’s nature? Unscrupulously using any means to obtain position has become his nature, officialdom and career success are his life. There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their conduct and behavior. For example, their philosophies for living, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are all filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. Thus, all things that flow through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). You know, these words of God showed me the root of the problem. I was always being a “nice guy” because Satan uses our society and formal education to steep me in the philosophies of living and fallacies, like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others,” and more. They had become principles of my conduct. Actually, when I was little, I was fairly guileless in word and deed; I would just speak out about whatever I saw. If I saw a classmate being bullied at school, I would stand up and defend them, making me a target for harassment. When I noticed personal flaws in friends or relatives or saw them do something bad, I would speak right up. They usually were not too pleased and would lose their temper with me, or even give me the cold shoulder. I would apologize and ask for their forgiveness in an attempt to smooth things over. As a result of these experiences, I started to feel like, to get by in this world, calling a spade a spade wasn’t necessarily a good thing, and would bring unnecessary trouble upon myself. From then on, I became sly and evasive and kept my mouth shut to protect our relationship when I saw someone do something they shouldn’t have. In doing so, I found my relationships with others became a lot more “harmonious” and I was able to get along with nearly everyone. Some people even praised me for it. Gradually, I came to accept the satanic philosophies, like “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” “Silence is gold,” “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others,” and “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes.” And I took these as words to live by, as guiding principles for my behavior. You know, out in the world, those who use flattery and fawning, who are always trying to see which way the wind blows, who are strategically two-faced are pretty successful. They’re often adored as icons of intelligence and emotional literacy. But reporters who tell the truth or those who expose social inequities often end up terribly. At best they lose their jobs, at worst people take revenge on them and their lives can even be in danger. All of society worships satanic thinking and arguments, and this made me more sure that it was very necessary to follow these philosophies for living. And so, once we’ve believed and accepted these satanic heresies and fallacies, these worldly philosophies, our outlook on life and the world becomes twisted. After gaining my faith, I learned that God requires honesty of us, but still controlled by these satanic philosophies, I still didn’t practice the truth that I clearly understood. I wasn’t willing to say something and uphold the life of the church when I saw Brother Michael doing things robotically and compromising the effectiveness of gatherings. I knew that Brother James was taking unilateral action and it would disrupt the church’s work, but I didn’t stop him. I even callously turned my back on God’s enlightenment, instead helping him out so that I wouldn’t offend him or make him think poorly of me. I saw that I was living by Satan’s principles for survival, becoming more and more selfish, despicable, slippery, and devious. I couldn’t safeguard the interests of the church at all and was completely lacking any sense of responsibility or accountability. The way I lived was vile. Then I prayed to God and asked Him to help me break free from Satan’s fetters and put His words into practice, because it was too hard for me to do on my own.
After praying, I felt much more quieter in my heart, then I opened up to brothers and sisters about my experience. And you know, a couple passages of God’s words came to mind: “My kingdom requires those who are honest, those who are not hypocritical or deceitful. Are not the sincere and honest people unpopular in the world? I am just the opposite. It is acceptable for the honest people to come to Me; I delight in this kind of person, and I also need this kind of person. This is precisely My righteousness” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 33). “You ought to know that God likes those who are honest. In essence, God is faithful, and so His words can always be trusted; His actions, furthermore, are faultless and unquestionable, which is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Three Admonitions). You know, God’s essence is holy and righteous, so everything He says and does can be trusted. Nothing is ever adulterated by satanic philosophies. For God, black is black and white is white—there’s no middle ground! This reminded me of something that the said: “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). God has always required us to be honest people, and this is the truth. In the world, which is of Satan, honest people aren’t well received and they have a hard time getting by. But that’s not the case in God’s house. God requires people who are honest, upright, who have a sense of justice, are brave enough to expose the truth, and who are able to put the truth into practice. Only they can gain God’s approval, and it is only they who God loves and accepts. It reminds me of something in the Book of Revelation about the overcomers: “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:5). From these words we can understand that God loves those who are honest and detests those who are disingenuous, slippery, and only know how to flatter others. People like that are bound to be eliminated by God in the end. This is the difference between the world and the house of God. I finally understood that it is the truth that holds sway over everything in God’s house, so I shouldn’t fail to practice the truth for fear of offending someone. Instead, I should be afraid of offending God by following Satan and failing to practice the truth. Being rejected or condemned by another person isn’t what’s scary. What someone thinks of me won’t determine my final outcome; only God can determine my outcome, and all I should focus on is what God thinks of me and my relationship with God, not my relationships with other people. I always used to protect my relationships with others, turning my back on the truth time after time. But I finally realized that what I need to pursue is God’s approval, as well as practicing God’s words, being an honest person, and being frank and open with brothers and sisters. In fact, from the brothers’ and sisters’ experiences, we can see that giving others’ reminders or feedbacks won’t offend them, as we imagined. If the other person is a truth-seeker, even if it may wound their pride then and there, they can learn a lesson after the fact by seeking the truth and the brothers and sisters become closer to each other. Only this is a normal interpersonal relationship.
You know, after that, I began to practice telling the truth and being an honest person. Later, I found out that a brother named Tom wasn’t taking his gatherings with newcomers seriously, but was just going through the motions. I wanted to go speak to him in fellowship about his issue, but I started feeling conflicted. If I named his problem, he might think I was expecting too much of him and he wouldn’t like me anymore. I wondered if it could impact our interactions going forward. When those thoughts surfaced, I immediately thought back to my past failures, so I said a prayer to God, asking for Him to lead me to practice the truth. One day after a gathering, I sought out Brother Tom and pointed out his lack of accountability in his duty as well as his casual approach to gatherings. Then we fellowshiped on the principles of church life in order to better understand God’s will regarding our duty. I was pleasantly surprised that not only was he not upset, but he actually thanked me for helping him see his own shortcomings. He was also able to find a path of practice. He later mentioned in a gathering, “A brother or sister offering a suggestion, pointing out our flaws or mistakes really can be helpful for us.” After that, I noticed that he took on more responsibility in gatherings. I was thrilled. I realized that those who genuinely pursue the truth won’t resent me for speaking the truth—I had been too cunning, always second-guessing other people and thinking poorly of others. I also gained true understanding that being an honest person and speaking the truth is incredibly beneficial for brothers’ and sisters’ life entry and for the work of God’s house.
That experience helped me understand God’s will and no longer fear rejection as a result of being honest. I felt grateful for the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words for giving me an understanding of my own cunning nature and some discernment over Satan’s philosophies. It also opened my eyes a bit to God’s righteous and holy essence. Almighty God says, “In God there is no deceit, no evil, no envy, and no strife, but only righteousness and authenticity, and everything that God has and is should be longed for by humans. Humans should strive for and aspire to it. On what basis is mankind’s ability to achieve this built? It is built on the basis of their understanding of God’s disposition, and their understanding of God’s essence. So understanding God’s disposition and what He has and is, is a lifelong lesson for every person; this is a lifelong goal pursued by every person who strives to change their disposition, and strives to know God” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III). We can feel God’s holiness and goodness through His words—there is no deceit or craftiness in God. On the contrary, there is only trustworthiness and righteousness. Loveliness pervades all that God has and is. I give thanks to God from my heart and am willing to seek to become an honest person beloved by God, no longer trying to fool God or man! Amen, thanks be to Almighty God!