Now I Know How to Bear Witness to God
By Xu Lu, China
In April 2021, I was working with Sister Chen, sharing the gospel. I already had some experience with that, so after a little while, I started to get better results than her. I was making a show in front of her of how I was doing things, how I answered potential converts’ questions. I was really specific. Sister Chen was really in awe. Once, some brothers and sisters didn’t show up to a gathering. Then I fellowshiped with them and they started attending as usual. I knew it was God guiding them, moving their hearts, but I was kind of patting myself on the back, thinking I’d had my own part. And I couldn’t help but show off to Sister Chen, saying, “I leaned on God, fellowshiping a few words and then they wanted to join gatherings.” She said admiringly, “Thank God! You’re so good at resolving things through fellowship.” I loved hearing that from her. And one time, when she couldn’t answer someone’s questions she was preaching to, she was really dejected. I asked her what she’d been saying to them, and she gave me a rundown. Then I thought she was lacking experience. They were easy questions to answer and I’d take care of that in no time. I had to teach her, to show her how I shared the gospel. I told her how to fellowship more effectively. Sister Chen liked what I had to say, saying she was really lacking, and asked me to help her out more. I was saying we had to lean on God, but in my heart I was too pleased with myself. I felt I was doing a great job.
In a gathering, a leader asked us what we’d learned in our duty recently. Sister Chen said she’d seen how much she lacked, that there were so many questions she couldn’t answer. She said I foundfor fellowship really quickly. The leader smiled at me and nodded her head. I knew I’d had some successes in our recent work and I was aching to show the leader how much I knew, that I could respond to people’s questions. I intentionally interrupted, saying, “It is really hard to answer their questions.” The leader asked, “What questions?” I rushed to try to come up with something, to think of which questions would best show off my skills. I picked the most complicated ones, so the leader would think I could answer the most difficult ones and I’d look really smart. So I just went on, gesticulating and beaming with joy, talking about how I’d responded to people’s questions and how I’d convinced them in the end. I exaggerated, portraying things as more difficult than they were, as if others could never resolve these issues and I was the only one who could. I wanted the leader to think I had some reality of the truth, that I was the best among everyone sharing the gospel. The leader and other brothers and sisters were all praising me, and I was eating it up. After asking about our work sharing the gospel, the leader fellowshiped on the principles with us. After a few words from her, I was thinking I had some relevant experience that I really should share. Once fellowship moved on, I wouldn’t have a chance to talk about it. I couldn’t wait to steal the show, so I said, “There’s a lot more to it.” Then I summed up my experience and shared how I’d managed to get some converts. Everyone was nodding their heads and I got more animated as I talked. Brothers and sisters interjected with their own opinions but I wasn’t really taking anything in. I felt like they didn’t have any real insight or valuable thoughts. I just kept sharing my views, not giving others a chance to talk. I just wanted to pour out all of my own experience, so the leader would see I was gifted, that I could seek principles in my duty, that I had talents. While talking, it did occur to me that I might be showing off. So I tried to slow down, control my tone, and talk a bit about my corruption and errors. But I was also thinking that these practical methods should be fellowshiped for the greater good, it was all my hands-on experience. I couldn’t not fellowship out of fear of showing off. At that thought, I just kept rambling on. Then I saw the leader nodding her head in agreement and the others looked like they approved. I really enjoyed it. So for that gathering, everyone was basically just listening to me talk. Not just that, but in gatherings I hardly told the others about my negative states or examples of my failures. I felt like it would ruin my image, so I cherry-picked my successes. Everyone thought I was great at sharing the gospel after a few gatherings, and some other people in that duty started to rely on me. They’d ask me to speak directly with people really stuck in their notions. I loved that even more, and I enjoyed the feeling of being looked up to.
When I was feeling very pleased with myself, God’s discipline came upon me. I started running into lots of roadblocks and wasn’t getting anything done. I was thinking that I tended to boast and show off in fellowship with others, and now I was spinning my wheels. Was God disgusted with me, and hiding Himself from me? I opened up to Sister Chen about the state I was in and she said, “Over the time I’ve known you, I’ve noticed you tend to brag. You talked the whole time when the leader joined a gathering. You cut her off before she could finish talking, and I couldn’t even ask a question. I’ve felt really inferior to you, seeing all your experience sharing the gospel.” Hearing that felt awful. I’d never imagined that my showing off would make her feel constrained. Wasn’t that doing evil? I came before God to seriously reflect on myself, and remembered these words of God: “All of those who go downhill exalt themselves and bear testimony to themselves. They go around boasting about themselves and self-aggrandizing, and they have not taken God to heart at all. Do you have any experience of what I am talking about? Many people are constantly bearing testimony to themselves: ‘I’ve suffered in this way and that; I’ve done this work and that; God has treated me in this way and that; He asked me to do such and such; He thinks especially highly of me; now I’m like this and that.’ They deliberately speak in a certain tone and adopt certain postures. Ultimately, some people end up thinking that these people are God. Once they have gotten to that point, the Holy Spirit will long since have abandoned them. Although, for the meantime, they are ignored, and not expelled, their fate is set, and all they can do is to await their punishment” (“People Make Too Many Demands of God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words were so poignant for me. I’d been hitting lots of stumbling blocks and couldn’t feel God’s guidance. It was all because I’d disgusted God with my boasting. God’s righteous disposition won’t tolerate man’s offenses. I felt kind of scared. I knew that if I kept on that way, God would abandon me in disgust. I had to seek the truth to resolve this problem.
I read a passage of God’s words exposing antichrists. “Exalting and testifying to themselves, flaunting themselves, trying to make people think highly of them—corrupt mankind is capable of these things. This is how people instinctively react when they are governed by their satanic natures, and it is common to all of corrupt mankind. How do people usually exalt and testify to themselves? How do they achieve this aim? One way is to testify to how much they have suffered, how much work they have done, and how much they have expended themselves. They talk about these things as a form of personal capital. That is, they use these things as the capital by which they exalt themselves, which gives them a higher, firmer, more secure place in people’s minds, so that more people esteem, admire, respect, and even venerate, idolize, and follow them. That is the ultimate effect. Are the things they do to achieve this aim—all their exalting and testifying to themselves—reasonable? They are not. They are beyond the purview of rationality. These people have no shame: They unabashedly testify to what they have done for God and how much they have suffered for Him. They even flaunt their gifts, talents, experience, and special skills, or their clever techniques for conducting themselves and the means they use to toy with people. Their method of exalting and testifying to themselves is to flaunt themselves and belittle others. They also dissemble and camouflage themselves, hiding their weaknesses, shortcomings, and failings from people so that they only ever see their brilliance. They do not even dare to tell other people when they feel negative; they lack the courage to open up and fellowship with them, and when they do something wrong, they do their utmost to conceal it and cover it up. Never do they mention the harm they have caused to the house of God in the course of doing their duty. When they have made some minor contribution or achieved some small success, however, they are quick to show it off. They cannot wait to let the whole world know how capable they are, how high their caliber is, how exceptional they are, and how much better they are than normal people. Is this not a way of exalting and testifying to themselves?” (“They Exalt and Testify About Themselves” in Exposing Antichrists). Didn’t I show off and exalt myself just like God described? I wasn’t bearing witness to God, but I was just showing off so people would look up to me. I was using my gospel experience like personal capital, thinking I was smart and eloquent, just putting on a show. When I had some successes, I boasted to the sister I worked with about my ability to solve problems, and when I saw her face some failures, I told her all about my experience. I was constantly showing off to her, making a display of my abilities. I was acting under the guise of helping her out, but in fact it was just to flaunt myself. I wanted her to think I was better than her, and as a result, she ended up delimiting herself and feeling negative. She was relying on me in her duty, instead of God. When the leader came to our gathering, I was grandstanding the whole time, bragging about what difficult problems I’d resolved to make a display of my capabilities so the leader would think highly of me, feel like I had some skills and could solve real problems. When the leader was fellowshiping on principles, I didn’t even wait for her to finish talking before I butted in, talking up how I’d shared the gospel according to the principles, making a show of my abilities for others’ esteem. I saw I was really despicable and cunning. Since I was always interrupting people and showing off in gatherings, not giving others a chance to fellowship, they became like my personal show, robbing the others of their chance to get their questions solved. And I couldn’t quiet my heart to ponder God’s words and listen to others’ experiences, but put all my thought into how I could fellowship to get others to admire me. I wasn’t learning much in gatherings. I knew I had plenty of faults and failures, but I was afraid of damaging the image others held of me, so I covered up those shortcomings, only talking about my successes. Then the others on the gospel team admired me and relied on me. I was bringing them before myself, and not only was I not afraid, but I reveled in it. I saw from my behavior that I didn’t try to satisfy God in my duty, but I was deceiving and ensnaring people.
I read this passage of God’s words that helped me understand my nature and essence. “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do notat all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). This made me realize that constantly bragging is being controlled by an arrogant nature. I’d loved the feeling of being admired and supported since I was little, so that was something I always pursued in life. I kept doing that even after gaining faith, boasting and showing off whenever I had the chance. I reveled in it, I was delighted whenever I saw someone’s look of admiration. Spreading the gospel was my responsibility, my duty, and any successes were thanks to God’s guidance. But I was controlled by arrogance, using gifts or experience as personal capital. I felt like I was an indispensable talent, and I was dismissive of everyone else. I was also seizing every chance to boast in front of brothers and sisters, how I’d been successful in sharing the gospel, but never mentioning my shortcomings or failures. So brothers and sisters started relying on me instead of looking to God, and God didn’t have a place in their hearts. God should hold the sacred place in people’s hearts, but I was bringing others before myself, so there was only room for me in their hearts. Wasn’t I vying with God for status? I thought of Paul, who was so arrogant in the Age of Grace. He never exalted the Christ in his epistles, and he didn’t bear witness to what the Lord Jesus’ work did for mankind. He was just self-aggrandizing about his gifts and caliber, ensnaring others so they’d admire and follow him. He testified that he wasn’t inferior to any other apostle, and ultimately said he lived as Christ, which seriously offended God’s disposition. Paul constantly exalting himself made other people adulate him, to the point that for 2,000 years believers have treated his words like God’s own words, as the basis for their faith, and the principles to put into practice. His words surpass God’s own words to them, making God just a figurehead. Paul ended up becoming the primary antichrist and was punished by God. I realized I was just like Paul. I wasn’t exalting God in my duty, but was just showing off and ensnaring people’s hearts. How was that doing a duty? I was simply running my own enterprise, resisting God and fighting with Him for a place. That’s seriously offensive to God. At that point I felt real fear and saw how dangerous that was. I came before God and prayed, “God, I don’t want to live against You, within my corrupt disposition. Please discipline me if I show off again. God, please guide me to gain a deeper understanding of myself.”
Later I read a passage of God’s words that made me really ashamed of myself. “Do not think that you understand everything. I tell you that all you have seen and experienced is insufficient for you to understand even a thousandth of My management plan. So why then do you act so haughty? That little bit of talent and tiny bit of knowledge you have are insufficient for Jesus to use in even a single second of His work! How much experience do you actually possess? What you have seen and all that you have heard in your lifetime and what you have imagined are less than the work I do in a single moment! You had best not nitpick and find fault. You can be as arrogant as you want, but you are nothing more than a creature not even the equal of an ant! All that you hold within your belly is less than what is in an ant’s belly! Do not think, just because you have gained some experience and seniority, that this entitles you to gesticulate wildly and talk big. Are not your experience and your seniority the product of the words I have uttered? Do you believe that they were in exchange for your own labor and toil? Today, you see that I have become flesh, and on this account alone there is in you a glut of concepts, and no end of notions therefrom. If not for My incarnation, even if you were possessed of extraordinary talents, you would not have so many concepts; and is it not from these that your notions arise?” (“The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation” in). I didn’t have the reality of the truth, but just knew some doctrine. I gained some experience and did a bit of work, then disregarded everyone else, and even God. I was stealing God’s glory. I was unreasonably arrogant. While sharing the gospel, I was actually keenly aware that it was God upholding His own work. Sometimes someone would ask a question I didn’t know how to answer, so I’d pray to God. Then I’d know how to address it after the Holy Spirit enlightened me. Sometimes I hadn’t even said much, but I’d just read some words of God, and people would immediately recognize God’s voice and be ready to seek His last days’ work. I saw all of it was achieved by the guidance of God’s words, that He was moving people’s hearts. Once, I shared the gospel with the brother of a sister in the church. Quite a few people had fellowshiped with him before, but he was constrained by his notions and didn’t look into it. I didn’t feel too confident, but I just prepared a bit based on my previous experience. When I talked to him about what I’d already thought through, he not only remained indifferent, but brought up more notions he had. I didn’t know how to fellowship, so I prayed and leaned on God, asking God to guide him. Then he watched a testimonial video and was really moved by the fellowship and really wanted to look into God’s new work. I was so surprised. He’d made a complete turnaround in just a little over 30 minutes. I knew it wasn’t because I’d fellowshiped so well, but because God had moved him. When my motives were wrong in my duty, no matter how much smooth talking I did, no one wanted to accept the gospel. My experience showed me that in a duty, our talents and caliber just play a supporting role, and they’re not the defining factor. God’s sheep hear His voice. Those God has preselected hear His voice in His words and want to investigate the true way. If it’s not someone God has selected, no amount of smooth talking will work. Even without any gifts, if someone’s heart is in the right place, and they truly rely on God, they can gain His guidance, and it’ll be successful all the same. Any achievements in my duties really are from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and the guidance of God’s words. Otherwise no matter how much I say on my own, I’ll never move a potential believer. I make the tiniest contribution and just go around boasting, stealing God’s glory. It’s senseless. I felt like I’d been really blind. I was giving myself all the glory for the slightest achievement, and using that as an excuse to boast. I really was shameless. Thinking back on the ways I’d been showing off, I felt so vile. I really was a buffoon, blindly putting on a show. If God hadn’t set up difficult situations for me and then had a sister criticize me, I’d have remained numbed, without any self-knowledge. At this realization, I came before God and prayed, wanting to repent, to stop exalting myself and showing off.
Later, I consciously sought how I should exalt and bear witness to God. I read a passage of God’s words. “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience that are genuine and from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words showed me that exalting and bearing witness to God is testifying to His work, His disposition, talking about our own corruption and rebelliousness and how we’ve learned about ourselves through the judgment of His words. Then others can gain discernment and see God’s righteousness as well as His love for us. But I’d just been talking about my successes in sharing the gospel, hardly ever talking about corruption I’d shown or how I’d resisted God. I wasn’t bearing witness to God and I needed to show my true self, reveal how I’d been self-aggrandizing, showing off, lay bare my struggles and deficiencies in preaching the gospel, and share how the Spirit guided me. I needed to fellowship all of that, so that the others could see me clearly and also see how God works. Then they’d have the faith to rely on God in their duty, to gain God’s guidance. When I opened up that way, everyone realized they really didn’t have God in their hearts. They wanted to make a change, to lean on God in their duty.
I saw a video of God’s words after that.says, “What is your understanding of God’s disposition, of what He has and is? What is your understanding of His authority and of His omnipotence and wisdom? Does anyone know how many years God has been working among all humanity and all things? No one knows the exact number of years to date for which God has been working and managing all mankind; He does not report such things to mankind. Yet if Satan were to do this for a bit, would it declare it? It would certainly declare it. Satan wants to show off itself, that it may deceive more people and have more of them give it credit. Why does God not report this undertaking? There is an aspect of God’s essence that is humble and hidden. What things are in opposition to humility and hiddenness? Arrogance, impudence, and ambition. … Antichrists are no different from Satan: They boast about every little thing they do in front of everyone. Hearing them, it seems like they are testifying to God—but if you listen closely you’ll discover that they’re not testifying to God, but showing off, building themselves up. The motivation and essence behind what they say is to vie with God for the chosen ones, and for status. God is humble and hidden, and Satan flaunts itself. Is there a difference? Could Satan be described as humble? (No.) Judging by its wicked nature and essence, it is a worthless piece of trash; it would be extraordinary for Satan to not flaunt itself. How could Satan be called ‘humble’? ‘Humility’ is said of God. God’s identity, essence, and disposition are lofty and honorable, but He never shows off. God is humble and hidden, He does not let people see what He has done, but as He works in such obscurity, humankind is unceasingly provided for, nourished, and guided—and this is all arranged by God. Is it hiddenness and humility, that God never divulges these things, never mentions them? God is humble precisely because He is able to do these things but never mentions or divulges them, does not discuss them with people. What right have you to speak of humility when you are incapable of such things? You didn’t do any of those things, yet insist on taking credit for them—this is called being shameless. Guiding mankind, God carries out such great work, and He presides over the entire universe. His authority and power are so vast, yet He has never said, ‘My ability is extraordinary.’ He remains hidden among all things, presiding over everything, nourishing and providing for humankind, allowing all humankind to continue for generation after generation. Take the air and the sunshine, for example, or all the visible material things necessary for human existence—they all flow forth without cease. That God provides for man is beyond question. So if Satan did something good, would it keep it quiet, and remain an unsung hero? Never. It’s like how there are some antichrists in the church who previously undertook dangerous work, or once did work that was harmful to their own interests, who may have even gone to prison; there are also those who once contributed to one aspect of the work of the house of God. They never forget these things, they think they deserve lifelong credit for them, they think they are their lifetime’s capital—which shows how small people are! People are small, and Satan is shameless” (“They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). God being so humble and hidden really made me feel ashamed. God is so supreme, but He still became flesh and came to earth, expressing truths to save mankind. No matter how great His work or how many truths He expresses, He never boasts. He’s just silently watching over mankind. God’s essence is incredibly benevolent. But I’m a speck of dust, nothing at all, and I was dying for admiration, fighting with God for a place. I bragged about any little thing I did, afraid others wouldn’t see it. Clearly, God does all the work and I just cooperate a little. I was shamelessly stealing God’s glory, constantly making a show of my gifts and caliber. I wanted to mislead people, taking them away from God. The more I thought about it the more ashamed I felt—it was so disgusting to God. I didn’t want to be that kind of person anymore.
In gatherings after that, I stopped talking about my successes like before, but I intentionally exalted and bore witness to God, talking more about my corruption and rebelliousness, which had led to my failures, and about God’s discipline and guidance so I could learn principles and a path of practice. I also dissected and opened up about my own motives, so others could see God’s righteousness, that I was just a corrupt person, and they could learn a lesson from my failures. At times, I still have a bit of a desire to show off, but after I realize that, I pray and forsake myself right away. I’ve felt so much better after putting that into practice. I’ve truly experienced how God’s judgment and chastisement benefit my life more than I can say. I’ve also had a taste of God’s love and salvation for me. Thanks be to God!