Letting My Guard Down
By Zhuanyi, South Korea
A while ago, we had to draw up some images for the church’s filming work. My partner, Brother Simon, had designed an image and submitted it for review. The leader said that the image was too rough and its composition was flawed, and that this was clearly due to Simon being perfunctory and careless. Later, I asked Simon about it. He said that because of the tight schedule, he’d had no time to work on the details. I didn’t respond to that, and just reminded him to be more careful in the future, and that the film work was so important, we couldn’t be careless and waste time with revisions. Not long after, clear errors of principle emerged in another of Simon’s images. The leader dealt with him for making such basic mistakes after training for so long, and for being sloppy in his duty, and consequently dismissed him from his duty. That outcome terrified me. I didn’t completely understand it. The leader had dismissed Simon just because he’d made two mistakes, wasn’t that a little harsh? Before I knew it, there was misunderstanding and guardedness in my heart. I felt that I couldn’t make any big mistakes in my duty, that I’d be dealt with for minor errors and perhaps dismissed for serious ones, and that I’d lose all hope of being saved if I couldn’t do my duty. I needed to be more careful.
A while later, I was very nervous about sending my images to the leader for review. I thought about how Simon had been dismissed for making just two mistakes, and that if errors of principle emerged in my images too, the leader might say that since I couldn’t do that work well, I shouldn’t be a group leader. Would I be dismissed like Simon? I felt more upset the more I thought about it. I felt uneasy doing my duty, and I wasn’t in the mood to do the work I had on hand. I realized my state was incorrect, and I hurried to pray to God and asked Him to guide me to resolve my problem. After, I saw a video reading of God’s word. Almighty God says, “At times, God uses a certain matter to lay you bare or discipline you. Does this then mean that you have been cast out? Does it mean your end has come? No. It is like when a child has been disobedient and made a mistake; his parents might chide and punish him, but if he cannot fathom his parents’ intention or understand why they are doing this, he will misunderstand their intent. For example, parents may tell their child, ‘Don’t leave the house alone, and don’t go outside by yourself,’ but this goes in one ear and out the other, and the child sneaks out alone anyway. Once the parents find out, they give their child a scolding and as punishment, they make him stand in the corner to think about his behavior. The child does not understand his parents’ intentions and starts to have doubts: ‘Do my parents not want me anymore? Am I really theirs? Am I adopted?’ These are the things he ponders. What are the parents’ actual intentions? The parents said it was too dangerous to do that and asked their child not to. But the child did not listen, and it went in one ear and out the other. Therefore, the parents needed to use some form of punishment to properly educate their child and make him learn from this. What is it that the parents want to achieve by doing this? Is it only to make the child learn? Learning is not what they ultimately want to achieve. The parents’ aim in doing this is to make the child do as he is told, behave in accordance with their advice, and not do anything that disobeys them or makes them worry, which is the desired effect they want to achieve. If the child has listened to his parents, it shows that he understands things, and his parents can be worry-free. Will they not then be satisfied with him? Will they still need to punish him like that? They will not need to. Believing in God is just like this. People must learn to heed God’s words and understand His heart. They must not misunderstand God. In fact, in many cases, people’s concern stems from their own interests. Speaking generally, it is the fear that they will have no outcome. They always think to themselves, ‘What if God lays me bare, casts me out, and rejects me?’ This is your misinterpretation of God; these are only your thoughts. You have to figure out what God’s intention is. His laying people bare is not done to cast them out. People are laid bare in order to expose their shortcomings, mistakes, and the essence of their natures, to make them know themselves, and be capable of true repentance; as such, laying people bare is in order to help their lives to grow. Without a pure understanding, people are apt to misinterpret God and become negative and weak. They may even give in to despair. In fact, being laid bare by God doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be cast out. It is to help you know your own corruption, and to make you repent. Oftentimes, because people are rebellious, and do not seek the truth to find a resolution when they have outpourings of corruption, God must exercise discipline. And so sometimes, He lays people bare, exposing their ugliness and pitifulness, allowing them to know themselves, which helps their life grow. Laying people bare has two different implications: For wicked people, being laid bare means they are cast out. For those who are able to accept the truth, it is a reminder and a warning; they are made to reflect on themselves, to see their true state, and to no longer be wayward and reckless, for to carry on like this would be dangerous. Laying people bare in this way is to remind them, so that when they perform their duty, they are not muddleheaded and careless, are not blasé, are not satisfied with only being a little bit effective, thinking they have performed their duty to an acceptable standard—when in fact, measured according to what God asks, they have fallen far short, yet they are still complacent, and think they’re doing okay. In such circumstances, God will discipline, caution, and remind people. Sometimes, God lays bare their ugliness—which is patently to serve as a reminder. At such times you should reflect on yourself: Performing your duty like this is inadequate, there is rebelliousness involved, it contains too much that is negative, it is entirely perfunctory, and if you do not repent, you will be punished. When God disciplines you, and lays you bare, this does not necessarily mean you will be cast out. This matter should be approached correctly. Even if you are cast out, you should accept it and submit to it, and make haste to reflect and repent” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Practicing the Truth and Obeying God Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition). After that, I understood being exposed does not mean you are being cast out. Like when a child does something wrong, their parents tell them off so that they will listen to them, learn a lesson, and stop being disobedient. If the child is obedient, it puts their parents’ minds at ease, and naturally, they won’t punish the child. We don’t understand the truth and act without principle, we also have corrupt dispositions, so making mistakes in our duties is unavoidable. Sometimes, we can’t see things clearly because we lack caliber and don’t understand the truth; sometimes we are willful and arbitrary, violate principles by acting on our arrogant dispositions, and disrupt the church’s work; sometimes work isn’t done properly because we are perfunctory and careless; and so on. Only by being exposed can we see our corruption and shortcomings, seek the truth, compensate for ourselves, and handle things with principle. God’s good intentions are behind this. I didn’t understand God’s will. When I saw Simon dismissed, I was worried and scared. I feared that I would also be dismissed for a momentary error, and that if my mistake was serious enough, I would be cast out and not be saved. I was being guarded toward and misunderstanding God. I felt so guilty. I started to consider why Simon had been dismissed. I recalled that the leader had pointed out his mistakes twice. The first time, the leader said that his ideas were outdated and his design was too rough, that several basic technical issues hadn’t been handled properly, and that this was clearly due to Simon being perfunctory. The leader said this in hope that Simon would be more careful and meticulous, and achieve good results in his duty. But Simon didn’t take this seriously and made excuses, saying that it was due to time limitations, and he didn’t reflect on or review this matter after that. The second time was also due to him being irresponsible and careless in his designs. He didn’t check his work properly and he didn’t let us go over it, he just sent it straight to the leader for review. Consequently, some clear violations of principle went uncorrected and had to be revised, delaying the progress of this important work. These failures all happened because Simon didn’t take his duty seriously and was perfunctory. The leader dealt with Simon so harshly and dismissed him so that he could reflect on his attitude toward his duty, quickly mend his ways, do his duty carefully and meticulously, and act in line with the principles of the truth. If being dealt with and dismissed helped him to reflect and learn a lesson, it would be good for his duty and his life entry! When I understood that, I felt much calmer.
At that time, there was another knot in my heart. I felt that it was quite harsh of the leader to dismiss Simon for just making two mistakes in his designs. I wondered if I’d be dismissed too if I made the same kinds of mistakes. I knew I was still misunderstanding and being guarded about this matter, so I sought out some relevant words of God to read. God’s word says: “On the surface, some people do not seem to have any serious problems throughout the time they perform their duty. They do nothing overtly evil; they do not cause disruptions or disturbances, or walk the path of the antichrists. In performing their duty, they do not have any major mistakes or problems of principle come up, yet, without realizing it, in a few short years they are exposed as not accepting the truth at all, as being one of the nonbelievers. Why is this so? Others cannot see an issue, but God scrutinizes these people’s innermost hearts, and He sees the problem. They have always been perfunctory and unrepentant in the performance of their duty. As time goes on, they are naturally exposed. What does it mean to remain unrepentant? It means that though they have performed their duty throughout, they have always had the wrong attitude toward it, an attitude of carelessness and perfunctoriness, a casual attitude, and they are never conscientious, much less devoted. They may put in a little effort, but they are just going through the motions. They are not giving it their all, and their transgressions are without end. From God’s vantage, they have never repented; they have always been perfunctory, and there has never been any change in them—that is, they do not relinquish the evil in their hands and repent to Him. God does not see in them an attitude of repentance, and He does not see a reversal in their attitude. They are persistent in regarding their duty and God’s commission with such an attitude and such a method. Throughout, there is no change in this stubborn, intransigent disposition, and, what is more, they have never felt indebted to God, have never felt that their carelessness and perfunctoriness is a transgression, an evildoing. In their hearts, there is no indebtedness, no guilt, no self-reproach, and much less is there self-accusation. And, as much time passes, God sees that this person is beyond remedy” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I saw from God’s word that if a person always treats their duty lightly, never seeks the principles of the truth in anything they do, is never attentive or diligent, and just goes through the motions while doing their duty, they are being severely perfunctory. Even if they don’t seem to be causing obvious disruptions or disturbances, or walking the path of an antichrist, if they don’t repent for their perfunctory attitude, if there are always deviations in their duty, they will eventually be exposed and cast out by God. By pondering God’s word, I began to recall some of Simon’s behavior in his duty. He’d been working in the group for a long time and was good at all the technical parts, but he’d often make basic errors. Sometimes even simple designs of his had to be revised multiple times. He’d often make mistakes even when backing up and labeling files. I’d pointed this out to him many times, and the others had often warned him too, but he never took it seriously or reflected on his problems and his attitude toward his duty. When the leader dealt with him the first time, he didn’t reflect on his problems and kept defending himself, chalking it all up to time limitations, so he never changed and kept making mistakes. I saw just how stubborn Simon was. Though I’d had some understanding of Simon’s behavior in the past, I hadn’t worried about it because it’d never seriously harmed the work. But this time he’d been perfunctory and delayed important work; the leader dismissing him was in line with principles and not excessive at all. From God’s word, I saw that being perfunctory is no minor problem. If one always has a careless attitude toward their duty, sooner or later, they will disrupt the church’s work and be exposed. Thinking about Simon, it seemed like he’d only made two mistakes, but on closer examination, he was dismissed mostly due to his careless attitude toward his duty. He was perfunctory in such an important duty and delayed the work—his dismissal revealed God’s righteous disposition!
After this, I wondered what was causing me to not seek the truth, become guarded and misunderstand God when others were dismissed. During a devotional, I read God’s word. “Tell Me, if someone who has made a mistake is capable of true understanding and is willing to repent, would God’s house not give them that chance? As God’s six-thousand-year management plan draws to a close, there are so many duties that need to be performed. But if people have no conscience or reason, and are derelict in their work, if they have gained an opportunity to perform a duty but do not know to treasure it, do not pursue the truth in the least, letting the optimal time go past, then they will be revealed. If you are consistently careless and perfunctory in performing your duty, and you do not submit at all when faced with pruning and being dealt with, will God’s house still put you to use in the performance of a duty? In God’s house, it is the truth that reigns, not Satan. God has the final say over everything. It is He who is doing the work of saving man, He who rules over everything. There is no need for your analysis of what is right and wrong; it is yours only to hear and obey. When faced with pruning and being dealt with, you must accept the truth and be able to correct your mistakes. If you do, God’s house will not strip you of your standing to perform a duty. If you are always fearful of being cast out, always giving excuses, always justifying yourself, that is a problem. If you let others see that you do not accept the truth in the least, and that you are impervious to reason, you are in trouble. The church will be obliged to address you. If you do not accept the truth at all in performing your duty and are always afraid of being exposed and cast out, then this fear of yours is tainted with human intent and a corrupt satanic disposition, and with suspicion, guardedness, and misapprehension. None of these is an attitude a person should have. You must begin by resolving your fear, as well as your misunderstandings of God. How do a person’s misunderstandings of God arise? When things are going well for a person, they definitely do not misunderstand Him. They believe that God is good, that God is honorable, that God is righteous, that God is merciful and loving, that God is right in everything that He does. However, when they are faced with something that does not conform to their notions, they think, ‘It seems God is not very righteous, at least not in this matter.’ Is this a misunderstanding? How is it that God is not righteous anymore? What was it that gave rise to this misunderstanding of yours? What was it that formed your opinion and understanding that God is not righteous? Can you say for sure what it was? Which sentence was it? Which matter? Which situation? Say it, so that everyone can work it out and see if you have a leg to stand on. And when a person misunderstands God or faces something that does not conform to their notions, what attitude should they have? (One of seeking the truth and obedience.) They need to obey first and consider: ‘I do not understand, but I will obey because this is what God has done and not something man should analyze. Moreover, I cannot doubt God’s words or His work because God’s word is the truth.’ Is this not the attitude a person should have? With this attitude, would your misunderstanding still pose a problem? (It would not.) It would not damage or disturb your performance of your duty. Do you think that a person who harbors misunderstandings while performing their duty can be loyal? Or is it someone without misunderstandings who can be loyal? (A person who does not harbor misunderstandings in performing their duty can be loyal.) This means that firstly, you must have an obedient attitude. What’s more, you must at least believe that God is the truth, that God is righteous, and that everything God does is right. This is the precondition that determines whether you can be loyal in performing your duty” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Reading God’s word made things clear to me. I was misunderstanding and guarded against God because I lacked true faith in Him and understanding of His righteousness. Seeing Simon being dismissed for making mistakes, made me doubtful and guarded against God. I thought that if I made a mistake, I’d be replaced or even cast out. I thought God’s house was the same as the outside world, and that those who made mistakes would be dismissed and cast out, as if God exposed people just to cast them out. There are principles for how the church dismisses and casts people out. People are comprehensively evaluated based on the attitude they have toward their duty, their humanity, caliber, if they can accept the truth, and so on. They are not dismissed or cast out for occasional transgressions or passing revelations of corruption. Thinking back on the leaders and workers around me, some were dismissed because they had poor caliber and were unable to do practical work, some because they lacked expertise and were not suited to their duties, and some because they had deeply corrupt dispositions and didn’t seek the truth to resolve them. But as long as they weren’t evildoers and didn’t create disturbances, God’s house wouldn’t cast them out or expel them. Instead, they’d be assigned duties suited to their caliber and strengths and given a chance to reflect and repent. If, through their dismissal, they could accept the truth, reflect, and truly repent and change, the church would promote and use them again. Only antichrists and evildoers who don’t accept the truth at all, don’t reflect when they are dismissed or exposed, and keep doing evil and creating disturbances, will be thoroughly expelled by the church. I saw that God’s house treats everyone fairly and righteously and that the truth indeed reigns there. For instance, Simon was dismissed because he was too careless in his duty, and delayed the work by always being perfunctory. That was God’s righteousness falling upon him. If he could approach it right, seek the truth and reflect, it would be a good chance for him to know himself, repent, and change. Simon’s dismissal was also a wake-up call for me. I had the same problems as him. I was often perfunctory and careless in my duty. Sometimes I was well aware that my designs had issues, but then I’d think of the time and effort it’d take to fix them and just send them to the leader for review, thinking the problems weren’t that big, that if the leader found some issues, I could fix them all together. As a result, work that should have been done in one go had to be revised, delaying the work’s progress. Sometimes I knew my design ideas were outdated, but being innovative requires a lot of resources, thinking and research. I thought that was too much trouble and that passable work was good enough, so no progress was made in my designs for several years. Simon’s failure taught me a serious lesson. I wasn’t seeking the truth or learning lessons from this matter, I didn’t understand God’s will, and I also misunderstood and guarded against Him. I was so deceitful. This thought filled me with remorse and guilt. I had to seek the truth properly, find the right path of practice, and stop misunderstanding and being guarded against God.
Later, I read God’s word. “If someone is open-hearted, they are an honest person. This means that they have opened up their heart and spirit completely to God, with nothing to hide and nothing to hide from. They have fully delivered and shown their heart to God, which means that they have given their whole self to Him. Will they still be estranged from God? No, they will not. In this way it is easy for them to submit to God. If God says they are deceitful, they will admit it. If God says they are arrogant and self-righteous, they will admit that too. And they won’t just admit these things and be done with them—they are able to repent, to strive for the principles of the truth, and to recognize their errors and rectify them. Before they know it, they will have corrected many of their erroneous ways, and they will become less and less deceitful, tricky, careless and perfunctory. The longer they live this way, the more open and honorable they will become and the closer they will be to the goal of becoming an honest person. That is what it means to live in the light. All of this glory goes to God! When people live in the light it is God’s doing—it is not something for them to boast about. When they live in the light, they understand various truths, they have a God-fearing heart, they know to seek the truth in every issue they encounter and to practice it, and they live with conscience and reason. Although they cannot be called righteous people, in God’s eyes they have some human likeness, and at the very least, they are not in contest with God in their words or deeds, they can seek the truth when things befall them, and they can submit to God. In this way they are relatively safe and secure, and could not possibly betray God. Though they may not have a very deep understanding of the truth, they are able to obey and submit, to fear God in their hearts, and distance themselves from evil. When they are given a task or a duty, they are able to use all their heart and mind, and do it to their utmost ability. This kind of person is trustworthy and God has confidence in them—people like this live in the light. Are those who live in the light able to accept God’s scrutiny? Might they still hide their hearts from God? Do they still have secrets they cannot tell God? Do they still have any shady, little tricks up their sleeves? They do not. They have completely opened up their hearts to God, and hide nothing whatsoever. They can confide in God, fellowship with Him about anything, and let Him know everything. There is nothing they will not tell God and nothing they will not show Him. When people are able to attain this level of openness, their lives become easy, free and liberated” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). My heart felt so bright after reading God’s word. God hopes that we can be honest people and open-hearted toward Him. Regardless of whether we are exposed by God, or pruned, dealt with and dismissed, we must first submit, have no resistance to God in our hearts, believe all that He does is good, then reflect and seek the principles of the truth. When our hearts are open to God, when we love the truth, and are willing to submit to God, it’s easy to gain the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination, attain true understanding of the truth, know our problems, correct our mistakes, repent, change, and do our duties in line with God’s word and demands. Also, we must believe in God’s righteousness. God doesn’t judge people by how they appear, He looks at if their intent is to satisfy Him and seek the principles of the truth. If we can correct our attitudes, and do our best, then even if we fall short in the process, we can approach it correctly, learn from our failures and review the deviations. When I corrected my attitude, my concerns were naturally put to rest.
After that, when I sent my images to the leader for review, I no longer felt so afraid or resistant. I was willing to correct my intent, seek the principles, and commit myself to my duty. Going forward, I put effort into researching techniques and finding good reference materials to study in response to issues the leader raised while reviewing my images. I was also working according to the principles required by God’s house and constantly experimenting. After a while, my technical skills improved and the quality of my work increased a lot. I felt really at ease. A few days later, when I sent off an image to be reviewed by the leader, I was surprised to hear him say: “This design is really good, we can use it!” Hearing this made me so happy and moved me in an indescribable way. Later on, Simon gained understanding of his corrupt disposition and wanted to repent and change, so the church continued to arrange a duty for him. Simon’s dismissal also led me to change my perfunctory attitude to my duty. I’m more meticulous now, and less perfunctory than before. From this experience, I learned that God does not permit people to be pruned, dealt with, or dismissed in order to cast them out. If we can submit and seek the truth, through this kind of experience we can gain knowledge of our corrupt dispositions, and find the problems and deviations in how we perform our duties, allowing us to promptly change and resolve them, and make progress in our life entry and duties. This is such a great thing! By putting aside my misunderstandings and guardedness against God, being careful and meticulous in my duty, and fulfilling my responsibilities in all things, I felt a sense of calm and ease.
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