Practice the Truth Even If It Offends
By April, Philippine
In May 2020, I accepted the work ofin the last days. I often read God’s word, actively participated in church life, and performed what duties I could. Later, I was chosen as a church leader. Once, our church urgently needed to train two gospel deacons. I had a list of all qualified people, and I found that Brother Kevin’s caliber was relatively good, he wasn’t too busy with work, and he actively fellowshiped at meetings and grasped the principles of spreading the gospel, so he seemed right for the job. There is also Sister Janelle, who was active in her duties and produced some results. Compared to others, these two seemed right for the duty, and my leader agreed with my ideas. So, I made them both gospel deacons. After a while, they understood the responsibilities of a gospel deacon and became familiar with it, so I allowed them to start performing their duties independently and put all of my own energy into watering work. After a few weeks, I found out that some who had just received the gospel left the meeting group, and some who spread the gospel had difficulties they didn’t know how to solve. As I saw these problems in gospel work, I wondered, “Are the gospel deacons doing practical work?” I went to investigate some of the details of the work and found that the gospel deacons only arranged things, but didn’t do the work themselves. At meetings they didn’t resolve practical problems, they merely urged other brothers and sisters to do their duty. After learning the situation, I was very disappointed. As church deacons, wasn’t it neglectful to not resolve practical problems? I also found out that Brother Kevin wasn’t doing a proper job, and sometimes he went to play games, while Sister Janelle had become lazy and irresponsible in her duties during this time. I wanted to fellowship with them and point out the problems in their duties, but considering that we got along so well, I didn’t want to spoil our relationship. I hoped my brothers and sisters saw me as a good person, someone understanding and considerate. If I pointed out their problems directly, it could ruin my good reputation. What would the two deacons think of me? Would they say that I didn’t look at their efforts, but only their deficiencies, and that I lacked a loving heart? Also, if I pointed out their problems, and they couldn’t accept it and became passive, would my brothers and sisters think I was incapable of the work of a leader? That I was a bad leader? If my leader asked about this, I might be dealt with. So with that in mind, I didn’t point out their problems. At times, I thought that since I was in charge of church work, it was my responsibility to point out their problems so they could reflect. But I still couldn’t say it. Instead, I sent them some of of encouragement and comfort and gently talked with them on how to perform one’s duty well and how to cooperate harmoniously with others. I didn’t point out the problems in their duties. Afterwards, I felt very guilty. I felt I was dishonest and deceitful.
One night, I couldn’t sleep as I thought of how the ineffective gospel work was directly related to me. I saw two gospel deacons being irresponsible in their duties, not solving problems the brothers and sisters who preached the gospel had, which put the brothers and sisters under a lot of pressure, and caused some newcomers to leave the meeting group, but I didn’t point out their problems. I felt so much guilt in my heart that I didn’t know what to do, so I sincerely prayed to God, “God, I feel very guilty for not being able to lead brothers and sisters well. God, please enlighten me and guide me in solving this problem.” After I prayed, I watched a video of experience testimony, which contained some words of God that inspired me a lot. God’s words say: “Conscience and reason should both be components of a person’s humanity. These are both most fundamental and most important. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity, a person of extremely poor humanity. Going into more detail, what manifestations of lost humanity does this person exhibit? Have a go at analyzing what characteristics are found in such people and what specific manifestations they present. (They are selfish and mean.) Selfish and mean people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and they have no sense of responsibility. … There are some people who do not take any responsibility regardless of the duty they are performing. They don’t report problems they discover to their superiors, either. When they see people being meddlesome and disruptive, they turn a blind eye. When they see wicked people committing evil, they don’t try to stop them. They don’t give the slightest consideration to the interests of the house of God, nor to what their duty and responsibility is. When they perform their duty, people like this don’t do any real work; they are yes men who are greedy for comfort; they speak and act only for their own vanity, face, status, and interests, and are sure to devote their time and effort to anything that benefits them” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I read God’s words twice, and I felt very sad. I thought I had good humanity, that I was patiently helping my brothers and sisters, and that I cared for the gospel deacons. When I acted, I always considered the feelings of others and didn’t want to hurt them. I thought this was being considerate of God’s will, and I thought I was a good person. But when I saw the two deacons being irresponsible with church work, I didn’t point out their problems to make them realize that they were being irresponsible in their duties. Instead, I indulged them because I feared pointing out their problems would destroy our relationship. I also worried my leader would scold me if I made them negative and that my brothers and sisters would view me badly, so I chose to protect my relationship with them, as well as my image and status and only sent God’s words of comfort and encouragement to fellowship with them. As a result, they failed to recognize their problems and failed to repent and change in time. For the sake of my image and personal interests, I failed to consider church work. This was not at all considerate of God’s will, and I was not a good person. In fact, people with good humanity are honest people, are able to practice the truth and protect the interests of God’s house, dare to fellowship and expose problems with others to help them change, and treat their brothers and sisters with a sincere heart. But me? When I saw the problems with the deacons, I didn’t say anything, and preferred to let the interests of God’s house suffer to safeguard my own interests. I had such bad humanity!
Later, I read a passage of God’s words and gained some understanding of myself. Almighty God says, “Some church leaders, upon seeing their brothers or sisters performing their duties carelessly and perfunctorily, do not rebuke them, though they should. When they see something that is clearly detrimental to the interests of God’s house, they turn a blind eye and make no inquiries, so as not to cause the least offense to others. Their true purpose and goal are not to show consideration for others’ weaknesses—they know full well what they intend: ‘If I keep this up and don’t cause offense to anyone, they’ll think I’m a good leader. They’ll have a good, high opinion of me. They’ll give me recognition and like me.’ No matter how much damage is done to the interests of God’s house, and no matter how greatly God’s chosen people are impeded in their life entry, or how greatly their church life is disturbed, such people persist in their satanic philosophy and cause no offense to anyone. There is never a sense of self-reproach in their hearts; at most, they might make casual mention of some issue in passing, and then be done with it. They do not fellowship the truth, nor do they point out the essence of others’ problems, and less still do they dissect people’s states. They do not lead people to enter the reality of the truth, and they never communicate what God’s will is, or the wrongs people often commit, or the sorts of corrupt disposition people reveal. They do not resolve practical problems such as these; instead, they are ever indulgent of others’ weaknesses and negativity, and even of their carelessness and perfunctoriness. They consistently let these people’s actions and behaviors go without being labeled for what they are, and, precisely because they do so, most people come to think, ‘Our leader is like a mother to us. He has even more understanding for our weaknesses than God does. Our stature may be too small to live up to God’s requirements, but we need only fulfill the requirements of our leader; by following our leader, we are following God. If a day comes when the Above replaces our leader, then we will make ourselves heard; to keep our leader and stop him being replaced by the Above, we will negotiate with the Above and force them into agreeing to our demands. This is how we will do right by our leader.’ When people have such thoughts in their hearts, when they have a dependent relationship with the leader, and in their hearts, they feel dependence, admiration, respect, and veneration toward their leader, and it is almost as if this leader has taken the place of God in their hearts, and if the leader is willing to maintain such a relationship, if the leader derives a feeling of enjoyment from it in their heart, and believes that God’s chosen ones ought to treat them like this, then there is no difference between them and Paul, and they have already set foot on the path of the antichrists. … The antichrists do not do real work, they do not fellowship the truth and solve problems, they do not guide people in eating and drinking God’s words and entering the reality of the truth. They work only for status and renown, they care only about establishing themselves, protecting the place they hold in people’s hearts, and making everyone worship them, venerate them, and follow them; in this way, they will have achieved their aims. This is how the antichrists try to win people over and control God’s chosen ones. Is such a way of working not evil, is it not abhorrent? It is abhorrent!” (“They Try to Win People Over” in Exposing Antichrists). After reading this passage of God’s words, I felt a deep flush of embarrassment. God’s word precisely revealed my state. I clearly saw that the two deacons did not do actual work, and the problem was serious, I should have used God’s words that judge and reveal people’s corrupt dispositions to fellowship so they could know their problems and change their attitudes toward their duty. This would have stopped them from affecting church work. But to maintain my relationship with them and give them a good impression, I didn’t expose the essence of their problems, I just used God’s comforting words to encourage them. I thought, by doing this, they would think I was a good leader and have a good opinion of me, approve of me, and like me. I was so selfish and despicable! Because I didn’t point out and expose the problems of the two deacons in time, newcomers couldn’t resolve their notions in time, and others who had just accepted the gospel left the meeting group. I realized this was my own doing. A leader’s duty is to supervise and follow up on the work of church deacons and group leaders, and resolve problems in time. We need to know the situations of our brothers and sisters, and when someone does things that violate principles or affect the church’s work, we should lovingly fellowship and help them. If our fellowship still doesn’t change things, we should prune, deal with, or dismiss them. This is the only way to protect the work of God’s house. But as a church leader, not only was I irresponsible, I acted as Satan’s servant and disrupted the work of God’s house. It was shameful! It was humiliating and sad to see things turn out like this. These problems occurred because I did not act as a leader should. If I had fellowshiped and exposed their problems, I wouldn’t have caused such a loss to the work of the church, I was a false leader who did no actual work. I didn’t help my brothers and sisters understand the truth and couldn’t bring them before God. I always wanted them to approve of me and defend me, so that they had a good image of me and I had status in their hearts. I was walking the antichrist’s path of resisting God. Without the judgment of God’s word, I don’t know what evil I might commit. Once I recognized this, I regretted my actions, so I sincerely prayed to God: “God, I didn’t realize that my selfishness would bring such damage to the work of the church and endanger the lives of my brothers and sisters. I am unworthy of such an important commission. God, I wish to repent. I hope to bring back those brothers and sisters who just accepted the gospel. Please guide me in reflecting on myself so that I don’t make the same mistakes again.” After praying, my state improved a little, but I still felt very guilty. I felt like a sinner, like everything I do represents Satan, that people like me couldn’t be saved, and that there was no hope for me.
At this time, a sister sent some of God’s words in the chat group. God’s word says, “Your many experiences of failure, of weakness, your times of negativity, can all be said to be God’s trials. This is because everything comes from God, and all things and events are in His hands. Whether you fail or whether you are weak and you stumble, it all rests on God and is within His grasp. From God’s perspective, this is a trial of you, and if you cannot recognize that, it will become temptation. There are two kinds of states that people should recognize: One comes from the Holy Spirit, and the likely source of the other is Satan. One is a state in which the Holy Spirit illuminates you and allows you to know yourself, to detest and feel regret about yourself and to be able to have genuine love for God, to set your heart on satisfying Him. The other is a state in which you know yourself, but you are negative and weak. It could be said that this state is God’s refinement, and also that it is Satan’s temptation. If you recognize that this is God’s salvation of you and if you feel that you are now deeply in His debt, and if from now on you try to repay Him and no longer fall into such depravity, if you put your effort into eating and drinking His words, and if you always consider yourself to be lacking, and have a heart of longing, then this is God’s trial. After the suffering has ended and you are once again moving forward, God will still lead, illuminate, enlighten, and nourish you. But if you do not recognize it and you are negative, simply abandoning yourself to despair, if you think in this way, then Satan’s temptation will have come upon you” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in). After reading this passage of God’s words, I felt comforted, and I also had the confidence to move forward. When I read the harsh words of God before, in which God revealed my corruption, it was painful and uncomfortable, and I felt as if I had been condemned and had no hope of being saved, so I was negative and weak. But when I read this passage of God’s words, I understood God’s will. If people don’t defend the interests of God’s house in their duties and are exposed and dealt with, it is normal for them to feel negative and weak. But if I could seek truth in my failure and reflect on myself, this was my chance to learn a lesson. If I became negative, withdrew, or gave up on myself, I would be falling for Satan’s trick and succumbing to temptation. I saw that behind God’s judgment and revealing of people’s corrupt dispositions was God’s love. God wants us to know ourselves, learn from our failures, and not to be controlled by satanic dispositions. This is a good thing, an opportunity to grow. Recognizing this, I no longer felt negative or misunderstood God. I had to do my duty according to God’s word and principles. I could no longer follow my fleshly emotions and guard my reputation and status.
Later, I read some of God’s words: “You ought to know that God likes those who are honest. In essence, God is faithful, and so His words can always be trusted; His actions, furthermore, are faultless and unquestionable, which is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him. Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, prestige, or reputation. Also do not consider the interests of man. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have done your utmost to be loyal, done your best to fulfill your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). These words of God helped me. From God’s word, I understood that God hates the deceitful but loves honest people. Honest people protect the interests of God’s house and the life entry of their brothers and sisters. When honest people are leaders, church work is never delayed. I had to put the interests of God’s house first and face the problems of the two deacons honestly. I had to fellowship and expose their actions to let them realize the seriousness of their problems, genuinely repent, and start acting responsibly again. If they couldn’t change after my fellowship, I had to dismiss them to protect the work of the church.
Later, I found some of God’s words and first fellowshiped with Brother Kevin, to let him know these social trends are temptations from Satan and that he should let go of his fleshly inclinations. Then, I fellowshiped with Sister Janelle and pointed out her lack of burden in her duties, and told her to be considerate of God’s will. To my surprise, after my fellowship, they were both willing to change their attitudes toward their duty and correct their behavior. Later, Brother Kevin also made some changes, so when he was tempted again, he could consciously forsake his own flesh, while Sister Janelle was able to be more proactive in her duty. When I saw this result, I blamed myself for not pointing out their problems sooner. I also saw that people who accept the truth are not negative when exposed and given advice. They are able to know themselves from it, truly repent, and better cooperate with God. I am very happy to have this experience. Experiencing the judgment and revelation of God’s word gave me some understanding of my own corruption. I also experienced that the words expressed by Almighty God are the truth, and they can change and save people. Thanks be to Almighty God!