I’ll Never Again Put My Destination First

February 7, 2023

By Mingzhi, South Korea

In the last role I played, I didn’t put enough thought into the character’s emotional state, or get a good grasp on his personality. I just played it based on my own understanding. I accepted the director’s advice superficially, but inside kept my own way of thinking. As a result, my performance didn’t fit with the character, and the film didn’t turn out well. The leader changed my duty and had me spread the gospel. My arrogance, my stubbornness, and my failure to do my duty well held up the filming process. I felt really bad, so I wanted to share the gospel and do good deeds to make up for my transgressions. After that, I worked long hours spreading the gospel to atone for my wrongdoing. I converted quite a few people, which made me really happy and motivated me in my duty.

So this time, when the leader asked me to audition, I was resistant. I didn’t think I was cut out to be an actor. I’d failed before, so I thought I’d probably fail this time as well. Now is a critical time for spreading the gospel, and I’d been getting good results there. I wouldn’t be able to preach if I had a part to play. Also, that character was in a lot of scenes. It would be fine if I played it well, but if not—if I failed partway through like last time and held up filming—that would be another transgression. It would delay my gospel work and good deeds. I’d be suffering a double loss. I turned it over in my mind, and told myself that, this time, I absolutely couldn’t go. I wondered if the leader was choosing people based on personal preference. So, I said to her: “I just can’t play this role. You should find someone else.” But she urged me to go and try out, and I had no choice but to agree. Still, I knew that I wouldn’t get the part. I’d just quickly go through the motions, and let the leader and director see the results of the audition. Then they’d give up. At the filming site, I said to the director: “Didn’t you all see me mess up last time? Why are you asking me back?” He replied: “None of the people who’ve tried out have been a good fit for this role. We’ve discussed it with the leader, and considered all the angles. This is a really important movie, and you’re well suited to the part. I hope you can give some thought to the overall work and come to the audition with a focused mind.” The more he talked about the movie’s importance, the more afraid I was to act in it. After all, I’d failed last time. So, what if I couldn’t grasp the role, or couldn’t play it well? No matter what they said, I insisted that I couldn’t play the part. I figured I’d just do a quick, rough audition to let the director see that I couldn’t do it. Then I could go back to sharing the gospel. After reaching that conclusion, I felt uneasy, and a little afraid. If this had come from God, and I didn’t obey, that would be offensive to Him. So, I prayed to God, and said: “God, please guide me to understand Your will, to submit to it, and to not rebel against You.”

In a gathering the next day, the leader read some of God’s words that really impacted me. God’s words say, “The lessons of submission are the hardest, but they are also the easiest. In what way are they hard? (People have their own ideas.) People having ideas is not the problem—what person does not have ideas? People all have hearts and brains, they all have their own ideas. That is not the problem here. So, what is it then? The problem is man’s corrupt disposition. If man did not have a corrupt disposition, he would be able to submit no matter how many ideas he had—they would not be an issue. If one has this sense and says, ‘I must submit to God in all things. I won’t give excuses or insist on my own ideas, I won’t reach my own verdict on this matter,’ is it not easy for them to submit? If a person does not reach their own verdicts, it is a sign that they are not self-righteous; if they do not insist on their own ideas, it is a sign that they have sense. If they can also submit, then they have achieved practice of the truth. … If you always want to make your own decisions when things befall you, and reason with others, and insist on your own ideas, this will become quite troublesome. This is because the things you are insisting on are not positive and are all things within a corrupt disposition. All of those things are outpourings of a corrupt disposition, and, in such circumstances, though you may wish to seek the truth, you will be unable to practice it, and though you may wish to pray to God, you will only be going through the motions. If someone fellowshiped with you about the truth and uncovered the adulterations of your intent, how would you make a choice? Could you easily submit to the truth? It would be very strenuous for you to submit at such a time, and you would be unable to submit. You would disobey and try to reason with others. You would say, ‘My decisions are for the sake of God’s house. They are not wrong. Why do you still ask that I submit?’ Do you see how you would be unable to submit? And apart from that, you would also resist; this is a deliberate transgression! Is this not extremely troublesome? When someone fellowships with you about truth, if you are unable to accept the truth and would even knowingly transgress, disobeying and resisting God, then yours is a serious problem. You are at risk of being exposed by God and cast out(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Submission to God Is a Basic Lesson in Gaining the Truth). “How can a corrupt disposition be resolved? The first is to see whether you are able to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and whether you can submit to all of the environments that God sets out for you(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Submission to God Is a Basic Lesson in Gaining the Truth). Just then, I felt like I’d woken up from a dream. God’s words described my state exactly. I was resistant to acting this time around. I wouldn’t submit, and kept trying to argue. I’d failed before, I’d done a bad job of playing the role, and I was doing well sharing the gospel—so why were they dead set on having me act again? I felt like the leader was following a personal whim. I resisted instead of obeying, living within a corrupt disposition. In that moment I realized that while it looked like a person was asking me to audition, in fact, this was God’s orchestration. To insist on doing things my own way would be really rebellious. This understanding changed my mindset a little. No matter what, I had to submit, to treat this duty seriously, and do my best at the audition. And to my surprise, after the audition, I was chosen for the role.

I read another passage of God’s words in my devotionals. “How should you receive and understand the truth of submission? Most people believe that submitting is being obedient and not resisting or revealing disobedience when things arise. They believe that this is what it is to submit. People do not understand the details of submission: why God wants people to submit, what the significance and principles of submission are, how one ought to submit, and what corrupt things there are to be resolved in people when practicing submission. People only follow rules and think, ‘Submission means that if I am meant to prepare food, I do not sweep the floor, and if I am meant to sweep the floor, I do not polish the glass. I do what I am meant to do; it is that simple. I need not pay attention to what is in my mind; God does not attend to that.’ In fact, it is through having people submit to Him that God resolves their rebelliousness and corruption, in order that they may achieve true submission to Him. This is the truth of submission. To what extent should people ultimately be made to understand and know about this? To the extent that they understand that no matter what God requires of people, it should be done, and that in it is God’s will, and people should submit to it unconditionally. If people can understand to this extent, they will have understood the truth of submission, and they will be able to practice submission to God and satisfy Him(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Those Who Understand the Truth Understand Spiritual Matters). Pondering God’s words, I began to reflect. Even though I’d attended the filming and it looked, on the surface, like I was submitting, in view of God’s words, this wasn’t true submission at all. I still needed to seek the truth, resolve my corruption, and do my duty according to principles. I gave it some thought. During this filming, I’d been so passive, and felt a lot of resistance in my heart. What corrupt disposition was controlling me?

One day, I read two passages of God’s words that gave me an insight into the problem. Almighty God says, “Antichrists never obey the arrangements of God’s house, and they always closely link their duty, fame, and status with their hope of blessings and their future destination, as if once their reputation and status are lost, they have no hope of obtaining blessings and rewards, and this feels like losing their lives to them. Therefore, they guard themselves against the leaders and workers of God’s house to keep their dream of blessings from being spoiled. They cling to their reputation and status, because they think this is their only hope of gaining blessings. An antichrist sees being blessed as greater than the heavens themselves, greater than life, more important than pursuing the truth, dispositional change, or personal salvation, and more important than doing their duty well, and being a created being that is up to standard. They think that being a created being that is up to standard, doing their duty well and being saved are all paltry things that are hardly worth mentioning, while gaining blessings is the only thing in their entire life that can never be forgotten. In whatever they encounter, no matter how great or small, they relate it to being blessed by God, and are incredibly cautious and attentive, and they always leave a way out for themselves(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Twelve). “Those who are always skeptical about God, always scrutinizing Him, always trying to strike a deal with Him—are they people with an honest heart? (No.) What resides within the hearts of such people? Craftiness and evil; they are always scrutinizing. And what is it they scrutinize? (God’s attitude toward people.) They are always scrutinizing God’s attitude toward people. What problem is this? And why do they scrutinize this? Because it involves their vital interests. In their hearts, they think to themselves, ‘God created these circumstances for me, He caused this to happen to me. Why did He do that? This hasn’t happened to other people—why did it have to happen to me? And what will the consequences be afterward?’ These are the things they scrutinize, they scrutinize their profits and losses, blessings and misfortune. And while scrutinizing these things, are they able to practice the truth? Are they able to obey God? They are not. … And what is the outcome when people only consider their own interests? When they only act for their own sakes, it is not easy for them to obey God, and even when they wish to, they can’t. And what is the ultimate outcome of the scrutiny of people who are always thinking about their own interests? All they do is disobey and oppose God. Even when they do insist on performing their duty, they do so carelessly and perfunctorily, with a mood of negativity; in their hearts, they keep thinking about how to take advantage, to not be on the losing side. Such are their motives when they perform their duty, and in this, they are trying to make a deal with God. What disposition is this? It is craftiness, it is an evil disposition. This is no longer an ordinary corrupt disposition, it has escalated to wickedness. And when there is this kind of evil disposition in their hearts, this is a struggle against God! You should be clear about this problem. If people always scrutinize God and try to make deals when they perform their duty, can they perform it properly? Absolutely not(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). God tells us that antichrists never submit to the arrangements of God’s house, but just do whatever they want. They want to exchange superficial sacrifices and efforts for a beautiful destination, but when they fail to gain status or good fortune, they become careless and passive, and reject their duties. I saw that my state was just as God describes. When I’d been asked to play a role, all I’d thought about was my own future. I thought I’d been successful in spreading the gospel, so by continuing to do that I could do more good deeds to make up for my past mistakes, guaranteeing my destination. But, as an actor, I’d already failed once, and I didn’t know if I’d succeed or not this time. If I did poorly and held up the filming work, not only would that be another transgression, but I’d delay all my good deeds in sharing the gospel. It wasn’t worth it. I tried to find reasons not to do it, using my past failure as an excuse to shirk my duty. Later I went to audition reluctantly, just wanting to go through the motions and get it over with. The director was very clear that, at the time, I was the most suitable candidate. But I didn’t consider the needs of the church’s work at all. I only thought about which duty would benefit me the most, and after all my calculations, I felt like I could better ensure my destination by spreading the gospel than by being an actor. So, I remained resistant and turned down the role. I sought to take advantage in my duty, to not be on the losing end. The church was arranging my duties based on its work needs, and I should submit to that. But I was acting like a businessman, thinking about whether doing the film would benefit me or not. I found all these respectable-sounding reasons to cover for my despicable motives. I was not only showing a deceitful disposition, but an evil one, conducting transactions and playing games with God! Before, I’d thought that my sharing the gospel was being considerate of God’s will. But now, I saw that I’d just wanted to convert more people to atone for my wrongdoing, to make up for my transgressions during filming, and get that glorious destination. I was using my duty to gain blessings. I thought of how Paul was struck down by a great light on the road to Damascus, then wanted to spread the gospel to make up for his wrongs, in exchange for a crown of righteousness. How were my motives for doing my duty any different from Paul’s? I was being too unreasonable. I was on a path against God, just like Paul. Realizing this, I felt that I was despicable. I smacked myself out of disgust. I prayed to God, in tears: “Oh God! I see that I’ve been transactional with You in my duty, that I’ve been deceitful and evil. Even after all these years of faith, I’m still playing games in my relationship with You. I’ve been corrupted by Satan to the point that I have no human likeness—please, save me!” Later, I read some of God’s words: “Your destination and your fate are very important to you—they are of grave concern. You believe, if you do not do things with great care, it will mean that you cease to have a destination, that you have destroyed your own fate. But has it ever occurred to you that people who expend effort solely for the sake of their destination are laboring in vain? Such efforts are not genuine—they are fakery and deceit. If that is the case, then those who work only for the sake of their destination are on the threshold of their final defeat, for failure in one’s belief in God is caused by deceit(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. On Destination). “Ultimately, whether people can attain salvation is not dependent on what duty they fulfill, but on whether they can understand and gain the truth, and on whether they can, in the end, entirely submit to God, put themselves at the mercy of His arrangement, give no consideration to their future and destiny, and become a qualified created being. God is righteous and holy, and this is the standard He uses to measure all mankind. This standard is immutable, and you must remember this. Inscribe this standard in your mind, and do not think of finding some other path to pursue some unreal thing. The requirements and standards God has for all who want to attain salvation are forever unchanging. They remain the same no matter who you are(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). From God’s words, I understood that if you only put in effort in order to get a good destination, you adulterate the process of doing your duty with ulterior motives and transactions. You cannot be genuine and obedient to God, your disposition will not change, and you will not receive God’s approval. I quietened my heart, and thought back on my experiences. After my filming failure, I felt that I hadn’t done that duty well, that I’d delayed our work and committed a transgression, so I was worried about my destination. I threw myself into sharing the gospel to atone for my wrongs. After converting some people, I thought I was devoted to God, and had hope of a good destination. I didn’t seek the truth or reflect on why I’d failed at the previous filming. As for the corruption I’d shown when spreading the gospel, the ways I’d violated principles, and the mistaken views I’d held, I didn’t reflect on these, either. I was content to just do some work and preach every day, and my corrupt disposition didn’t change. I was so pleased with what little I’d achieved. I became increasingly arrogant, and my desire for blessings had strengthened. I thought of how Paul converted so many people, but during his preaching, he never bore witness to the Lord Jesus or God’s words. He just elevated himself and showed off, and his disposition became more and more arrogant. He never understood how his nature and essence resisted God, and ultimately used his work, his suffering, and his converts as capital, to openly demand a crown of righteousness from God. In the end, he even bore witness that he himself was Christ, and was punished and damned by God. I knew that I was on the same path of failure as Paul, and how dangerous that was. By letting me participate in another filming, God was giving me another chance. In this environment, I could reflect, and gain some understanding of my mistaken views. For me, all this happening was His salvation for me. But I hadn’t understood that. I thought that the filming would keep me from sharing the gospel and doing good deeds. I didn’t know good from bad. I was so blind and foolish! When I came to see this, I was filled with regret, and with gratitude toward God. I prayed to God, to give Him my thanks.

I read more of God’s words in my devotionals. They helped me understand God’s will, and gave me a path to follow. Almighty God says, “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). “If what you seek is the truth, if what you put into practice is the truth, and if what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own notions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or cast out depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks). No matter what duty someone does, it’s one of God’s arrangements, a responsibility that they ought to fulfill, and something a created being ought to do. It has nothing to do with being blessed or cursed. No matter what duty the church assigned me to, even if it was something I wasn’t good at or had failed at before, I had to accept and submit to it first, then seek how to do that duty well and what principles I had to grasp, and put my whole heart into it. Then, if I couldn’t do something, I should pray to God, and seek and fellowship with others. That’s the sense I should have. I couldn’t choose my duty based on personal interests, and I really couldn’t link it with being blessed. It’s like a child being dutiful to their parents—it’s a responsibility. I turned down a duty when the church needed people’s cooperation, failing to fulfill my responsibilities. I disobeyed God. All along, I’d been living in my own notions and imaginings. I’d thought that converting more people to make up for my wrongs was practicing the truth, and the more I converted, the more transgressions would be covered. But I didn’t understand God’s will. God wants people to be able to pursue the truth as they do their duty, and no matter what they’ve done wrong or what corruption they’ve shown, to self-reflect, repent, and change, to be able to revere and submit to God, and act according to the principles of the truth. That’s how to do your duty according to God’s will. If we just want to atone for our wrongs in exchange for God’s blessing, then what we expend isn’t genuine. We’re cheating God, and we won’t gain His approval. I’d listened to the experiences of some of the brothers and sisters who spread the gospel. In their duties, they’d failed and stumbled, or even been dismissed. But afterward, they’d read God’s words to learn about their corrupt dispositions and the root of their failure. Then they could reflect and find the principles of practice, and when they met with a similar situation they could change, and would have the testimony of practicing the truth. But as for me, even though I shared the gospel every day, it was just to atone for my wrongs in exchange for a good destination. It was a transaction, an exchange. I wasn’t submitting to God and I didn’t have the testimony of practicing the truth. I felt ashamed.

Later, I read more of God’s words: “A person’s end or destination is not determined by their own will, nor by their own inclinations or imaginings. The Creator, God, has the final say. How should people cooperate in such matters? People have but one path that they can choose: Only if they seek the truth, understand the truth, obey God’s words, achieve submission to God, and attain salvation will they ultimately have a good outcome and a good destiny. It is not hard to imagine people’s prospects and destiny if they do the opposite. And so, in this matter, do not focus on what God has promised man, what God’s end for mankind is, what God has prepared for mankind. These have nothing to do with you, they are God’s business, they can’t be taken, begged for, or bartered for by you. As a creature of God, what should you do? You should perform your duty, doing what you ought to with all your heart, mind, and strength. The rest—things to do with prospects and fate, and humankind’s future destination—these are not something you can decide, they are in the hands of God, all of this is dictated and arranged by the Creator, and has nothing to do with any creature of God(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Nine)). From God’s words, I learned that the only way to have a good fate and destination is to pursue the truth in your duty, listen to and follow God’s words, and put your whole heart into your duty. I failed in the last filming because I hadn’t thought through how the character felt. I was arrogant and didn’t seek principles. I didn’t want to accept others’ suggestions, but performed based on my own understanding. How could I do my duty well, being so arrogant? While I was seeking a path of practice, I saw this part of God’s words: “One must discuss everything they do with others. Listen first to what everyone else has to say. If the majority view is right and accords with the truth, you should accept it and submit to it. Whatever you do, do not resort to bombast. Bombast is never a good thing, in any crowd. … You should often fellowship with others, making suggestions and expressing your own views—this is your duty and your liberty. But in the end, when a decision is to be made, if it is you alone who makes the final verdict, having everyone do as you say and go along with your will, then you are violating the principles. You should make the correct choice based on what the majority wills, and then make the final decision. If the suggestion of the majority does not accord with the principles of the truth, you should persevere in the truth. This is what accords with the principles of the truth(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I should follow God’s words, set myself aside, discuss things more with others, listen to their suggestions, and accept those ideas that follow the principles of the truth and could benefit the church’s work. That’s an attitude of accepting the truth. Understanding this felt really freeing for me and gave me a path. In every scene filmed after that, I focused on the character’s mindset and emotions, and discussed them with the director. Sometimes, when I heard a suggestion that didn’t fit with my thinking, and wanted to stick to my own idea, I’d calm myself down, pray, put myself aside, and seek principles with the leader and director. After that, I’d find that the other person was right. After practicing this for a while, I realized I had a lot of flaws, and stopped being so arrogant. At times, I was still stubborn, but I learned to deny myself, and took others’ suggestions a lot more. When I put my heart into my duty, I could really think about how to play the part well, and wouldn’t worry about being blamed for doing poorly. I straightened out my thinking a bit. I felt that doing my duty well was the most important thing, and I felt at peace when I treated my duty that way. I put my all into acting well in every performance we did. Sometimes we had to do a shot quite a few times. Even if the director okayed it, I felt I could do better, so I’d put everything I had into doing it again. That was the only way to give my all and leave no regrets in any scenes. Once I did this, I gradually figured out how to play the part, and some of the emotional scenes that had been hard to play at first became easier. I knew that this was all due to God’s guidance. I said a prayer after every shot, praising God and thanking Him for His guidance.

Through this experience I learned that whether or not my situation fits with my notions, it all comes from God’s arrangements. The less it fits with my notions, the more I need to accept it, seek God’s will, and submit to His orchestrations.

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