Is Pursuing Blessings in Line With God’s Will?
By Claude, UK
In 2018, I had the good fortune to accept’s work of the last days. I was incredibly excited that I got to welcome the return of the Lord. Before long, I started learning how to share the gospel, but since I mostly worked during the day and came home tired at night, it was really difficult to focus on my duty. I wanted to put aside my job and share the gospel full time, but my practical circumstances wouldn’t allow for that. I was raising five children, and if I didn’t send them to school, the government would see me as unfit to care for them, and they’d be taken away from me. There was a lot of stress in my life, but I knew that as a created being, no matter how great my difficulties, I absolutely had to do my duty.
In 2019, I became a church leader and my days got even busier. I decided to decrease my working days from six to four days a week. I thought that maybe, God would bless me for my sacrifices. Although I wasn’t doing as much business because of the reduction in my hours, my life wasn’t really impacted by it since everything was going smoothly, and we didn’t have health problems or run into any trouble. I felt things in my life were that peaceful because I was getting what I deserved for my enthusiastic expenditure for God. I was so happy to have more time for doing my duty. But then, all of that changed in 2021, after the pandemic broke out.
The income of the hair salon I was running drastically tumbled because of the pandemic. The business volume just wasn’t enough to pay the rent. So, I had no choice but to move to a cheaper storefront, but it needed some renovations. I found someone working in construction to help with that, but after a few weeks he said my project would require a lot of time, he had lots of things to do and didn’t have enough staff, so he had to stop working with me. My neighbors and customers found out what was happening and said that if the work on the new store wasn’t completed, I’d be paying rent on two places at the same time, which would be really expensive, and how could that happen to me, being a believer? At first I told them, utterly confident, that everything was up to God’s rule and arrangements, and I couldn’t complain. After that I found a guy working with another construction group, but he gave up my project as well, because of health issues. The time just flew by and the store still wasn’t fixed up. For three months straight, I was paying rent on two storefronts at the same time. Soon after that, a pipe started leaking at the new store and the ceiling had to be torn down to find the leak. That change in storefronts had already cost me about £3,000, all told. I was really displeased and also confused. Why would something like that happen to me—why did I have to spend so much money? I’d thought all along that God would help me find a good construction worker. But surprisingly, that guy just abandoned the job when he was partway through installing the heater, and the pipe started leaking, destroying half of the heating renovation that he’d done. During that time I also came down with the coronavirus. I began to complain: Why was God allowing that sort of thing to happen to me? I was doing a duty in the church and reduced my time working and earning money for that, so why was I facing so many difficult things? I was just full of complaints in my heart.
I didn’t have a very conscientious attitude toward my duty after that. I was still doing my duty, but my heart wasn’t in it at all. I was completely preoccupied with how to resolve the issues in my shop. This was a real quandary for me, and as a result I wasn’t very focused in gatherings. I always used to make a summary after gatherings, but I didn’t want to do that anymore. I also used to be able to sacrifice some of my sleeping time to fellowship with others and help solve problems, but now when they sought me out about issues I didn’t want to answer the phone. I used to go find out whether the brothers and sisters were in a good state or not, if they had struggles in their duties, and fellowship onbased on whatever difficulties they faced, but I didn’t want to do any of that work anymore. I became sloppier and sloppier in my duty. One day, an upper leader told me that I needed to shoulder my responsibilities, and be sure to set up gatherings for all the new church members, and water them properly, not to let a single one slip through the cracks. I was really resistant to her arrangement. Doing things that way, I wouldn’t have much time to take care of things at home. I wanted to spend my free time with my family and friends, to pander to the flesh more. I sank into a worse and worse state and didn’t even want to do devotionals, to read God’s words. Before I’d get up early to read God’s words and listen to readings of them during the day, but now I didn’t want to get up in the morning or read God’s words, because I hadn’t been blessed in exchange for my efforts, and I’d hit so many roadblocks. I didn’t know what to fellowship on in gatherings. I pretended that everything was just fine, so at least I could hold on to my position in the church. I also started being devious in my duty. When someone asked me how things were going, I’d say I’d finished something that I very clearly hadn’t done, deceiving my brothers and sisters. That attitude of mine was entirely because God hadn’t blessed me, but had allowed me to face those difficulties. I wasn’t displaying reverence for God, much less worshiping Him.
I was in an awful state, so I told the leader about what I was going through. She had me read this passage of God’s words: “While undergoing trials, it is normal for people to be weak, or to have negativity within them, or to lack clarity on God’s will or their path for practice. But in any case, you must have faith in God’s work, and not deny God, just like Job. Although Job was weak and cursed the day of his own birth, he did not deny that all things in human life were bestowed by Jehovah, and that Jehovah is also the One to take them all away. No matter how he was tested, he maintained this belief. In your experience, no matter what refinement you undergo through God’s words, what God requires of mankind, in brief, is their faith and their love for Him. What He perfects by working in this way is people’s faith, love, and aspirations. God does the work of perfection on people, and they cannot see it, cannot feel it; under such circumstances, your faith is required. People’s faith is required when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you do not have clarity about God’s work, what is required of you is to have faith and to take a firm stance and stand witness” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). Reading God’s words showed me that I had absolutely no understanding of God’s intent in what I was going through. I felt hopeless and desolate, and even had doubts about God’s sovereignty. But I just kept claiming over and over to be a devout follower of God. When my business was going well and I had my health, I thought God had blessed me tremendously and I could give more of myself for Him. When I ran into predicaments, when I had difficulties in life, I started to blame God. How was that having faith? When Job lost all of his family possessions and every one of his children, he didn’t blame God, but even praised God’s name. When his wife tried to get him to waver in his faith, he denounced her as a foolish woman, saying, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job wasn’t transactional or demanding in his faith in God. Whether he enjoyed blessings or suffered disaster, he submitted to God. Job had genuine faith in God. I felt that there was simply no way I could match up to him. Seeing one hardship after another crop up in my life, I felt some dissatisfaction. The people I knew asked me why those sorts of things were happening to me, a believer, and though I claimed everything was great, over time I started to waver in my heart, and I started to doubt God’s rule. Through Job’s experience, I realized this was Satan attacking me through things other people said, trying to get me to deny and blame God. I was totally devoid of testimony in that experience—I became Satan’s laughingstock. I was full of shame and regret over the way I’d acted.
I read a few more passages of God’s words later on. “In people’s life experiences, they often think to themselves, I’ve given up my family and career for God, and what has He given me? I must add it up, and confirm it—have I received any blessings recently? I’ve given a lot during this time, I’ve run and run, and have suffered much—has God given me any promises in return? Has He remembered my good deeds? What will my end be? Can I receive God’s blessings? … Every person constantly makes such calculations within their heart, and they make demands of God which bear their motivations, ambitions, and a transactional mentality. This is to say, in his heart man is constantly testing God, constantly devising plans about God, constantly arguing the case for his own individual end with God, and trying to extract a statement from God, seeing whether or not God can give him what he wants. At the same time as pursuing God, man does not treat God as God. Man has always tried to make deals with God, ceaselessly making demands of Him, and even pressing Him at every step, trying to take a mile after being given an inch. At the same time as trying to make deals with God, man also argues with Him, and there are even people who, when trials befall them or they find themselves in certain situations, often become weak, passive and slack in their work, and full of complaints about God. From the time when man first began to believe in God, he has considered God to be a cornucopia, a Swiss Army knife, and he has considered himself to be God’s greatest creditor, as if trying to get blessings and promises from God were his inherent right and obligation, while God’s responsibility were to protect and care for man, and to provide for him. Such is the basic understanding of ‘belief in God’ of all those who believe in God, and such is their deepest understanding of the concept of belief in God. From man’s nature and essence to his subjective pursuit, there is nothing that relates to the fear of God. Man’s aim in believing in God could not possibly have anything to do with the worship of God. That is to say, man has never considered nor understood that belief in God requires fearing and worshiping God. In light of such conditions, man’s essence is obvious. What is this essence? It is that man’s heart is malicious, harbors treachery and deceit, does not love fairness and righteousness and that which is positive, and it is contemptible and greedy. Man’s heart could not be more closed to God; he has not given it to God at all. God has never seen man’s true heart, nor has He ever been worshiped by man. No matter how great the price God pays, or how much work He does, or how much He provides to man, man remains blind and utterly indifferent to it all. Man has never given his heart to God, he only wants to mind his heart himself, to make his own decisions—the subtext of which is that man does not want to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil, or to obey the sovereignty and arrangements of God, nor does he want to (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II). “No matter how they are tried, the allegiance of those who have God in their heart remains unchanged; but for those who do not have God in their heart, once the work of God is not advantageous to their flesh, they change their view of God, and even depart from God. Such are those who will not stand fast in the end, who only seek God’s blessings and have no desire to expend themselves for God and dedicate themselves to Him. Such base people will all be expelled when God’s work comes to an end, and they are unworthy of any sympathy. Those without humanity are incapable of truly loving God. When the environment is safe and secure, or there are profits to be made, they are totally obedient toward God, but once that which they desire is compromised or finally refuted, they immediately revolt. Even in the space of just one night, they may go from a smiling, ‘kind-hearted’ person to an ugly-looking and ferocious killer, suddenly treating their benefactor of yesterday as their mortal enemy, without rhyme or reason. If these demons are not cast out, these demons that would kill without blinking an eye, will they not become a hidden danger?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice). God’s words showed me what was hidden deep within my heart. I didn’t believe in God to submit to Him and worship Him, but it was to revel in His grace and blessings. Cutting back on my time to work and earn money so I could do a duty was just so I’d be more blessed. Everything I gave up was only to try to make a deal with God, not at all out of genuine faith and love. When problems first started cropping up in my life, I stayed strong in my duty because I thought those hardships would pass, and then God would bless me even more. But things continued to be difficult. I ran into problems at the new storefront and I lost a lot of money. I didn’t have any motivation to go do my duty anymore, and I started to blame God. Without God’s blessings, I didn’t want to keep working so hard for God like before. I just wanted to think of my own comfort more. The way I thought about things was under constant attack from the hardships I faced, and through these struggles, I failed to seek God’s will, or how to practice the truth and stand firm. Instead, I tried to find ways to resolve my financial struggles on my own, even muddling through my duty and being irresponsible. God had no place in my heart. Through my attitude toward my duty and my attitude toward God, I saw I wasn’t a true follower of God. I always claimed to love God, but I blamed God when I encountered hardship in life. I argued and tried to settle accounts with Him, just like God said: “Even in the space of just one night, they may go from a smiling, ‘kind-hearted’ person to an ugly-looking and ferocious killer, suddenly treating their benefactor of yesterday as their mortal enemy, without rhyme or reason.” My behavior was exactly the same as what God lays bare in His words. I only did my duty well when God blessed me. I acted like I was some sort of debtholder, demanding what I wanted from God. But in fact, God gave me life—He gave me everything. He’d given me more than enough. Why did I still want to reproach God, to reason and argue with Him? Also, I fought Him by not doing my duty well. I felt more and more shame as I reflected on this. If I didn’t repent to God, wouldn’t God detest and cast out someone like me? I said a prayer to God in my heart, “God, I’m really lacking a conscience. I’ve already enjoyed so much of Your grace, but I just keep making demands of You, one after another. When my desires aren’t fulfilled, I become negative and I complain. God, I’ve seen my true face, and I despise myself. Please help me so that I can change these mistaken pursuits I have.”as God. Such is the state of man today”
I read this in God’s words after that: “What you pursue is to be able to gain peace after believing in God, for your children to be free from illness, for your husband to have a good job, for your son to find a good wife, for your daughter to find a decent husband, for your oxen and horses to plow the land well, for a year of good weather for your crops. This is what you seek. Your pursuit is only to live in comfort, for no accidents to befall your family, for the winds to pass you by, for your face to be untouched by grit, for your family’s crops to not be flooded, for you to be unaffected by any disaster, to live in God’s embrace, to live in a cozy nest. A coward such as you, who always pursues the flesh—do you have a heart, do you have a spirit? Are you not a beast? I give you the true way without asking for anything in return, yet you do not pursue. Are you one of those who believe in God? I bestow real human life upon you, yet you do not pursue. Are you no different from a pig or a dog?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). “All corrupt humans live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of human nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; when they forsake things and expend themselves for God, it is in order to be blessed, and when they are faithful to Him, it is in order to be rewarded. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of being blessed, rewarded, and entering the kingdom of heaven. In society, people work for their own benefit, and in the house of God, they perform a duty in order to be blessed. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: There is no better evidence of man’s satanic nature” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Reading God’s words showed me how selfish and despicable I was. I was controlled by the idea of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” I thought that no matter what I did, I had to benefit from it, and I didn’t want to do anything that I didn’t benefit from. This kind of philosophy, this kind of thinking, was deeply entrenched in my heart, and led to me always just living for myself. Even my faith and my sacrifices for God were just for one goal—to be blessed. I was cheating God. I was an extremely selfish and crafty person. I constantly pursued my personal interests, and how to gain God’s grace and blessings. When I saw that God wasn’t blessing me like I imagined He should, I became miserable and full of complaints. What was God’s will in that situation? I didn’t seek or ponder that, and I didn’t care. I was just focused on my fleshly interests. Wasn’t I losing out on chances to gain the truth? God has become flesh in the last days to come save us. He has spoken so many words, pouring out His blood, sweat, and tears for us so that through these words, through these truths, we can escape sin and evil, escape Satan’s corruption and harm. But I wasn’t pursuing the truth—I thought too little of it. I was just greedy for comforts of the flesh, considering and calculating for it. If I’d kept acting like that, what would God have done with someone like me? I would have ended up cast out, obliterated. I said a prayer in my heart, “God, please save me. Please allow me to know myself and find a path of practice.” I said this kind of prayer every single day.
Later on I read this in God’s words: “You may think that believing in God is about suffering, or doing all manner of things for Him; you might think that the purpose of believing in God is so that your flesh may be at peace, or so that everything in your life runs smoothly, or so that you may be comfortable and at ease in all things. However, none of these are purposes that people should attach to their belief in God. If you believe for these purposes, then your perspective is incorrect, and it is simply impossible for you to be perfected. God’s actions, God’s righteous disposition, His wisdom, His words, and His wondrousness and unfathomableness are all things people ought to understand. Having this understanding, you should use it to rid your heart of all personal demands, hopes, and notions. Only by eliminating these things can you meet the conditions demanded by God, and it is only by doing this that you can have life and satisfy God. The purpose of believing in God is to satisfy Him and to live out the disposition He requires, so that His actions and glory may be manifested through this group of unworthy people. This is the correct perspective for believing in God, and this is also the goal that you should seek” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). “There is no correlation between the duty of man and whether he is blessed or cursed. Duty is what man ought to fulfill; it is his heaven-sent vocation, and should not depend on recompense, conditions, or reasons. Only then is he doing his duty. To be blessed is when someone is made perfect and enjoys God’s blessings after experiencing judgment. To be cursed is when someone’s disposition does not change after they have experienced chastisement and judgment, it is when they do not experience being made perfect but are punished. But regardless of whether they are blessed or cursed, created beings should fulfill their duty, doing what they ought to do, and doing what they are able to do; this is the least that a person, a person who pursues God, should do. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed. Let Me tell you this one thing: Man’s performance of his duty is what he ought to do, and if he is incapable of performing his duty, then this is his rebelliousness” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man). I’d claimed to have true faith in God plenty of times, but then I realized that was entirely my imagination. My kind of faith was just like what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7–8: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Paul was awaiting a crown of righteousness after his service for the Lord, and that was my goal in my faith too—to be blessed. God’s words told me the meaning of faith and the proper pursuit I should have in my faith. I felt ready to change the wrong path I’d been on before, because that could only lead me to become increasingly depraved, and an enemy of God. I was just like a child who wasn’t truly filial to his parents, but just wanted something from them. That kind of child can never be favored by his parents, but will only cause them pain. My motivation and perspective in my faith were shameful for me. What kind of recompense was I hoping to gain from God? I’d already enjoyed so much of His grace and blessings, and gained so much sustenance from the truths in His words, and His care and protection, not to mention the air I breathed, the sunshine I felt, my daily bread. This was all provided by God. Even my very life was given to me by God. How should I repay the love of our Creator? Even if I gave every fiber of my being, I’d never be able to repay Him. Even so, I still blamed God, argued, and tried to settle accounts with Him. I was truly lacking humanity, without the slightest self-awareness. I followed God and did my duty, which was my responsibility, the most basic thing I should do. It was also a chance God gave me to pursue the truth and gain salvation. If I didn’t do my duty, I wouldn’t be able to gain the truth or change my corrupt disposition. Thank God! Now I realize that doing a duty is just what a created being should do, a human’s responsibility. Doing my duty shouldn’t be a deal I strike with God. I also understand that no matter what difficulties I face, whether I get sick or my business isn’t doing well, I need to accept it, and should not complain. This is the reason and the attitude I should have as a created being. I’m grateful to God for allowing me to have this kind of understanding. I’m not making much money now and the quality of my life is a bit lower, but I’m more frugal than before—I’m not spending as much. I can still get by. I can’t let health problems and issues in life impact my attitude toward my duty. I’ve kept offering the brothers and sisters help, doing my best to complete every task in my duty. Experiencing this situation showed me how selfish and vile I was, and gave me some understanding of my mistaken perspective in my faith and pursuit. This was all achieved thanks to the guidance of God’s words.