What I Gained From Being Pruned and Dealt With

July 21, 2022

By Wenyan, Italy

I began supervising the video work in November 2018. I was a bundle of nerves every day because of the heavy workload. I was busy resolving all sorts of problems and following up on others’ work. I couldn’t let myself relax. After a little time passed, Sister Liu would often critique our videos, and say these problems were all due to our lack of effort. I felt a lot of resistance when I saw these messages from her. We were already doing our best to minimize mistakes, and achieving that much at work was already not too bad. Wasn’t she just dragging out the process by nitpicking at small things? I never took her suggestions to heart, thinking she was making a fuss out of nothing and delaying our work. One day, I made an appointment with Sister Liu to talk. I integrated some principles to fellowship on how her nitpicking was affecting our work progress. I was surprised when right after fellowshiping, she said in a harsh tone, “That’s one aspect of the principle of the matter. But let me remind you— don’t think that principles are an excuse for sloppy and irresponsible behavior in your duty. These are two different things. Don’t confuse them.” When I heard what she said, although I didn’t say anything, I had had it inside. I thought, “Don’t you mean I’m sloppy and irresponsible in my duty? You’re obviously nitpicking and slowing things down, yet you criticize me! What’s the big deal about some small problems? They won’t affect the quality of the videos at all, and what we’ve achieved is already pretty good. You don’t know how big our workload is, but you just pick at small issues and then come at me like this. You’re so arrogant!” After that I refused to interact with Sister Liu. As long as it was an issue she pointed out, I expressed opposition, and my emotions got involved when handling issues.

Almost every half month after this, Sister Liu would prepare a summary of feedback for us about work issues. Once, she even shared this feedback with the leader. When I heard this, I was furious. We made some mistakes, but with such a heavy workload every month, wasn’t it normal for there to be little things that weren’t done right? Was it really necessary to tell the leader? You obsess over little things, your standards are too high. Are you treating us brothers and sisters like machines? Can’t we ever make a mistake? The more I thought the more riled up I became. When the leader came to talk to me, I pointed the finger directly at Sister Liu, saying she was extremely arrogant. She wasn’t self-aware, but just pointed at our problems. The leader saw I had no self-awareness, and fellowshiped that I needed to treat Sister Liu properly. She told me to self-reflect and learn a lesson. But the leader’s words fell on deaf ears. I stalled resolving the issues Sister Liu mentioned in her feedback, and didn’t put any effort into thinking about how to avoid similar issues in the future. Did you know at the time that you weren’t in a good state? I was vaguely aware, and I sought God through prayer, asking Him to lead me to learn my lesson and gain self-awareness in this matter.

During my devotionals one day, I read some of God’s words which helped me gain some awareness of my state. God’s words say, “When people go on about right and wrong, they try to clarify whether every single thing is right or wrong, they don’t stop until the matter has been cleared up and it is understood who was right and who was wrong, they are fixated by such things, fixated by things for which there is no answer: Just what is the point of acting like this? Is it ultimately right to talk about right and wrong? (No.) Where is the mistake? Is there any connection between this and practicing the truth? (There is no connection.) Why do you say there is no connection? Talking about right and wrong is not adhering to the principles of the truth, it is not discussing or fellowshiping the principles of the truth; instead, people always talk about who was right and who was wrong, who was correct and who was mistaken, who was being reasonable and who wasn’t, who had good reason, and who didn’t, who made more sense; this is what they examine. When God tests people, they always try to reason with God, they always come out with some reason or another. Does God discuss such things with you? Does God ask what the context was? Does God ask about the reasons and causes you pointed out? He does not. God asks if you had an attitude of obedience or resistance when He tested you. God asks whether or not you understood the truth, whether or not you were obedient. This is all God asks, nothing else. God does not ask you what the reason for your lack of obedience was, He does not look at whether you had a good reason—He absolutely does not consider such things. God only looks at whether or not you were obedient. Regardless of your living environment and what the context was, God only scrutinizes whether there was obedience in your heart, whether you had an attitude of obedience; God does not debate right and wrong with you, God does not care what your reasons were, God only cares whether you were truly obedient, this is all that God asks you. The kind of people who go on about right and wrong, who love having wars of words—are there the principles of the truth in their hearts? (No.) Why not? Have they ever paid any attention to the principles of the truth? Have they ever strived for them? Have they ever sought them? They have never paid them any attention, or strived for them or sought them, and they are totally absent from their hearts. As a result, they can only live among what’s right and wrong, all that is in their hearts is right and wrong, correct and incorrect, pretexts, reasons, justifications, arguments, soon after which they attack, make accusations against, and condemn each other. The disposition of people like this is that they like debating right and wrong, they like making accusations and condemning people. People like this have no love or acceptance of the truth, they are liable to try and reason with God, even to make assertions about God and resist God. Ultimately, they will end up being punished” (Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s revelation, I saw that people who always talk about right and wrong in a situation will first investigate it thoroughly: who’s right, who’s wrong, who has reason on their side. If they can talk circles around others, they start arguing their own case, they fix their gaze on others, become noncompliant, oppositional, and even attack others without searching for the truth or reflecting on their own issues. They don’t submit to the situations God lays out for them. I thought about how I was acting this way. When Sister Liu pointed out some problems in our work, I knew these problems existed, but I found reasons and excuses to justify myself, thinking that our standard of work was already okay considering our workload, and that small problems were unavoidable. I even tried to refute her with principles to stop her from pointing out problems, thinking that her expectations were too high, and that the problems were insignificant and it wouldn’t matter even if they weren’t resolved. When Sister Liu criticized me for being sloppy and irresponsible, not only did I not accept it from God, but I developed a bias against her and thought she was nitpicking. When she spoke sternly and her words hurt my pride, I labeled her disposition as arrogant, and even judged her in front of the leader, scheming to get the leader to take my side and view her in a bad light. When the leader helped me, I refused to listen. I wasn’t accepting situations from God or reflecting on my own problems. Rather, I made justifications, excuses, and debated who was right and wrong. All I showed was hot-headedness, without the slightest attitude of obedience. How could I call myself a believer? I was acting like a nonbeliever.

Afterward, I read another passage of God’s words which helped me further understand God’s will. God’s words say, “Doing anything involves seeking the truth and putting the truth into practice. And as long as something involves the truth, it involves people’s humanity and their attitude. Much of the time, when people do things in an unprincipled way it is because they don’t understand the principles behind them. But a lot of the time, not only do people not understand the principles, but neither do they wish to understand them. Though they may know a little about them, they still don’t wish to do their task well; this standard is not in their hearts, and neither is this requirement. So it is very hard for them to do things well, it is very hard for them to do things in a way that is in line with the truth and satisfies God. Key to whether people are able to perform their duty acceptably depends on what they seek and whether or not they love positive things. If people do not like positive things, it is not easy for them to accept the truth—which is very troublesome; even though they perform a duty, they are only doing service. Regardless of whether or not you understand the truth, and whether or not you are able to grasp principle, if you perform your duty with conscience, you will, at the very least, achieve average results. Only this will do. If you are then able to seek the truth and do things according to the principles of the truth, then you will be able to fully do as God asks and satisfy God’s will. What does God ask? (That we give all our heart and strength to completing our duty.) How to interpret ‘giving all your heart and strength’? If people devote their whole mind to performing their duty, then they are giving all their heart. If they use every ounce of strength they have when performing their duty, they are giving all their strength. Is it easy to give all your heart and strength? This is not easy to achieve without conscience and sense. If people have no heart, if they are lacking in intellect and incapable of reflection, and if, when faced with an issue, they do not seek the truth, and have no ways or means, then can they give all their heart? Definitely not” (“Man Is the Greatest Beneficiary of God’s Management Plan” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After pondering God’s words, I understood His will. God does not demand that people achieve perfection in their duties, but He looks at whether they’ve tried their best, and if their attitude is one of trying to improve at their duty. God examines people’s hearts. I reflected on my attitude toward my duty compared to God’s words. I always felt I had a heavy workload, with many things to consider and attend to, and that it was normal for small problems to arise in work. Sometimes even if I knew those problems could be avoided, I didn’t want to put in the effort to improve things, which led to problems being prolonged and not resolved. But actually, God doesn’t demand that I never make a mistake in my duty. He just despises my sloppy and irresponsible attitude. Sister Liu was drawing my attention to a problem by pointing it out, helping me fix it in a timely manner and do my duty well. Once I realized this, my state improved somewhat. After that, I fellowshiped and summarized with the others, and thought of how to change. The next time someone pointed out a problem, I wasn’t as resistant and perfunctory about it, but I resolved it with everyone.

I also reflected on myself. Why was I so opposed to Sister Liu’s suggestions? Later I read another passage of God’s words, and gained some self-awareness. God’s words say, “Antichrists’ archetypal attitude toward dealing and pruning is to vehemently refuse to accept or admit it. No matter how much evil they have done, how much harm they have done to the work of God’s house and the life entry of God’s chosen people, they do not feel the slightest remorse or that they owe anything. From this point of view, do the antichrists have humanity? Absolutely not. They have caused all sorts of damage to God’s chosen people, brought such harm to the work of the church—God’s chosen people can see it as clear as day, and they have seen antichrists’ evil deeds, one after another. And yet the antichrists do not accept or acknowledge this fact, they stubbornly refuse to admit that they are in error or that they are responsible. Is this not an indication that they are sick of the truth? Such is the extent to which antichrists are sick of the truth, and no matter how much wickedness they commit, they refuse to admit it, and they remain unyielding to the end. This proves that antichrists have never taken the work of God’s house seriously or accepted the truth. They haven’t come to believe in God—they are minions of Satan, come to disturb and disrupt the work of God’s house. In antichrists’ hearts there are only name and status. They believe that if they were to acknowledge their error, then they would have to accept responsibility, and then their status and prestige would be severely compromised. As a result, they resist with an attitude of ‘deny until you die,’ and no matter what revelations or dissections people make, they do their utmost to deny them. Whether their denial is deliberate or not, in short, in one regard this exposes the antichrists’ nature and essence of being sick of and hating the truth. In another regard, it shows how much the antichrists treasure their own status, prestige, and interests. What, meanwhile, is their attitude toward the work and interests of the church? It is one of contempt and denial of responsibility. They lack all conscience and reason. Does the antichrists’ shirking of responsibility demonstrate these issues? In one regard, shirking responsibility proves their essence and nature of being sick of and hating the truth, while in another regard, it shows their lack of conscience, reason, and humanity. No matter how much the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life is harmed by their interference and evildoing, they feel no self-recrimination and could never be troubled by this. What sort of creature is this? Even admission to part of their mistake would count as them having a bit of conscience and sense—but the antichrists do not even have that slight amount of humanity. So what would you say they are? The essence of antichrists is the devil” (“Item Nine: They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). I reflected after comparing myself to God’s words. I was obviously sloppy in my duty, and there were many oversights and problems, but I felt no guilt or remorse. When faced with being pruned, dealt with, and reminded, I wouldn’t accept it. I always found reasons to justify myself and shrug it off. I wasn’t willing to admit my own mistakes. I thought admitting mistakes would make me look bad, and harm my reputation, status, and image, causing others to look down on me. I was totally unreasonable. I was revealing a disposition of being sick of the truth. Others gave me suggestions to help me see ways I was lacking in my duty, so I could rectify problems in a timely manner and do my duty better. But I never accepted this from God, nor did I reflect upon myself. So, the issue of being sloppy in my duty was never resolved, and I never fulfilled my role as a supervisor, causing the others to be sloppy in their duty and make mistakes too. At this point, I finally saw that not resolving this satanic disposition of being sick of the truth made it hard for me to accept the truth and accept others’ suggestions. If I continued to not repent or resolve this corrupt disposition, the problems and weaknesses in my duty would grow, and eventually I’d do evil, oppose God and be despised and cast out by Him. Realizing this was really upsetting for me, and I prayed to God in repentance, willing to practice the truth in my duty from now on, and not live in corruption.

Later, I read another passage of God’s words which gave me a path to resolve the disposition of being sick of the truth. God’s words say, “If, when you don’t understand a truth, someone offers you a suggestion, and tells you how to act according to the truth, the first thing you should do is accept, and ask everyone to fellowship together, to see if this is the correct path, if it is in accordance with the principles of the truth. If you ascertain that it is in accordance with the truth, then practice in this way; if you ascertain that it is not, then don’t. It’s that simple. You should search for the truth from many people, listening to what everyone has to say and taking it all seriously; don’t turn a deaf ear or snub people. This falls under your duty, so you should treat it seriously. This is the right attitude and state. When you have the right state, you will no longer betray a disposition of being sick of and hostile toward the truth; practicing in this way takes the place of your corrupt disposition, and is practicing the truth. And what is the effect of practicing the truth in this way? (There is the guidance of the Holy Spirit.) Having the guidance of the Holy Spirit is one aspect. Sometimes, the matter is very simple, and is achievable by using your own intellect; once people have given you suggestions and you have understood, you set things straight and simply proceed according to principle. To human beings, this may seem trivial, but in the eyes of God, it is a big deal. Why do I say this? When you practice in this way, God sees that you are able to practice the truth, that you are someone who loves the truth, not someone who is sick of the truth, and at the same time as seeing your heart, God also sees your disposition. This is a big deal. And when you perform a duty and do things before God, what you live out and reveal is the reality of the truth that ought to be found in people; before God, your attitude, thoughts, and state in everything you do are of the utmost importance, they are what God scrutinizes” (“Only by Often Living Before God Can One Have a Normal Relationship With Him” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words pointed out a path of practice. When the brothers and sisters give suggestions or critique me, first I should have an attitude of acceptance and obedience. When I don’t know how to carry it out, I shouldn’t despise or oppose it, but I should accept it first, then seek fellowship from someone who understands truth, then put it into practice once I have a proper handle on the principles. This is carrying out my duty according to God’s will. I thought of how when others notice and point out problems or shortcomings in my work, when they give me suggestions and deal with me, it’s entirely them being responsible for the work of God’s house, not singling me out or making things difficult for me. I should receive it from God and be obedient and accepting, reflecting on my problems, and changing and fixing them in a timely manner. That’s the only way for my work to improve bit by bit, and to avoid having my corrupt disposition disrupt the church’s work.

One day, Sister Liu sent a message pointing out some issues with our videos. When I saw it, I felt opposed for a moment. I’d already discussed and addressed these issues with the others. Why was she bringing them up again? I wanted to say something in my defense, but when I stopped to think about it, if she pointed it out, there must still be oversights or shortcomings with the work. So, I took the initiative to ask Sister Liu about it. After gaining an in-depth understanding, I finally realized I only discussed these issues with the brothers and sisters, but hadn’t followed up on their work in a timely manner afterward. I also realized that I wasn’t being proactive and responsible toward my work, but I was just passively waiting for others to point out problems before resolving them. So, I took the initiative to ask the others what problems still existed in our videos, and fellowshiped and resolved them in a timely manner. After a period of time, it was clear there were less and less problems, and I felt at peace and relieved in my duty. I also felt in my heart that only by being able to take others’ suggestions, seek the truth and solve my problems can I do my duty well.

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