Responsibility Is Key to Preaching the Gospel Well
By Marie, Côte d’Ivoire
I used to not take my duties seriously and I slacked off a lot. I often did things sloppily. I would invite potential gospel recipients to listen to sermons, but wasn’t willing to talk with them or ask how they felt about what they’d heard. I thought that inviting a lot of people to come listen meant I was doing my duty well. Plus, this was easier for me. I found it hard to talk with them; not only did it take time, answering their questions also took effort, so I didn’t want to engage with them. I thought that the gospel staff would talk with them and it would be enough, that it didn’t matter if I didn’t know their situation. At a gathering, the supervisor said, “When we invite people to come hear the sermons, we need to know what’s going on with them afterward, see if they come to gatherings, if they understand what was said, and hear their views. We need to do our best to help them out of love, and this is our responsibility, too.” But I didn’t realize it at the time. I thought it was a hassle, so I didn’t sacrifice that much or endure much hardship. I took the easiest path, and gave no thought to whether I achieved results. One time, the supervisor said there were some people who invited a lot of listeners, but very few of them truly sought or investigated. I knew I was one of these people; I only concerned myself with surface-level work, and got no real results. Afterward, the supervisor came to examine my work, and said, “How are these potential gospel recipients doing now?” I was embarrassed, and didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t in contact with many of them, and hadn’t reached out to some people who weren’t coming to hear sermons. I had abandoned them just like that.
I started reflecting after talking with the supervisor. I saw that God says, “All that God asks people to do, and all of the various kinds of work in the house of God—these all need people to do them, they all count as people’s duties. No matter what work people do, this is the duty they should perform. Duties cover a very broad scope, and involve many areas—but no matter what duty you perform, put simply this is your obligation, it is something you should be doing. No matter what duty you perform, as long as you strive to do it well, God will praise you, and will acknowledge you as someone who truly believes in God. No matter who you are, if you are always trying to avoid or hide from your duty, then there is a problem: To put it mildly, you are too lazy, too deceitful, you are idle, you love leisure and loathe labor; to put it more seriously, you are unwilling to perform your duty, you have no commitment, no obedience. If you can’t even put the effort into this minor task, what can you do? What are you capable of doing properly? If a person is truly devoted, and has a sense of responsibility toward their duty, then as long as it is required by God, and as long as it is needed by the house of God, they will do anything they are asked, without selection. Is it not one of the principles of performing one’s duty to undertake and complete anything that one is able and ought to do? (Yes.)” (“Item Ten: They Despise the Truth, Publicly Flout Principles, and Ignore the Arrangements of God’s House (Part Four)” in Exposing Antichrists). “If you are obedient and sincere, then when you carry out a task, you are not careless and perfunctory, and do not look for ways to slack off, but put all of your body and soul into it. Having the wrong state within produces negativity, which makes people lose their drive, and so they become careless and sloppy. People who, in their hearts, know full well that their state is not right, and yet still do not try to fix this by seeking the truth: such people have no love for the truth, and are only slightly willing to perform their duty; they are disinclined to make any effort or suffer hardship, and are always looking for ways to slack off. In fact, God has already seen all of this—so why does He pay no heed to these people? God is just waiting for His chosen ones to wake up and identify them for what they really are, for them to expose and cast them out” (“Item Ten: They Despise the Truth, Publicly Flout Principles, and Ignore the Arrangements of God’s House (Part Four)” in Exposing Antichrists). In, I saw that people who are responsible in their duty don’t need supervision from others to complete tasks; they put their heart into their duty. But people who aren’t serious about their duty only put on an act and go through the motions. Even if it looks to people like they’ve done a lot of work, it’s only superficial, and hasn’t achieved any real results. They’re deceiving people. God’s words exposed my state. I was happy when I invited potential gospel recipients to come to sermons because when everyone saw how many people I invited, they’d think I was a responsible person. But in reality, when I needed to know what was going on with them afterward, I didn’t want to pay a price, or put in more time and effort. I just wanted to pass the work off to the gospel staff. I liked taking the easy way out. Whichever way meant less hardship and was most comfortable, that was the one I took. I took shortcuts when things got difficult. I wanted to give up when something seemed hard or I had to put in a lot of effort. I was such a slacker! I couldn’t be bothered to find out what questions the potential gospel recipients had after listening to the sermons, whether they kept coming to gatherings, and if not, why they weren’t there, et cetera. I was really irresponsible in my duty, and didn’t give of myself, yet I wanted it to look like I was effective in my duty. I was so sly and deceptive, I didn’t deserve to be trusted. I remembered another past experience of mine. When I was in school and got bad grades, I had to take the class again, but even then I still didn’t study hard. I’ve always preferred easy work to hard work, and have been lazy. It’s part of my nature. After realizing this, I started putting more thought into my work, changing my ways, and communicating with those potential gospel recipients. I also talked with gospel staff and sought their help. When I did this, I became a bit more effective.
Later, I handed those who were ready to accept the true way to waterers, but there still weren’t many people who continued coming to gatherings. There was one person who was too busy with work to come to gatherings. Also, her mother had just passed away. She was heart-broken, and withdrew from the world. I didn’t know how to fellowship with her other than to find some simple words to say. And when some people encountered problems, I couldn’t find the right words of God to help resolve them. This was hard for me. I preferred inviting people to come listen to sermons, because it was easier. I didn’t really like talking to them; I was afraid they’d ask questions I couldn’t answer, so I chose to avoid or abandon them. About half a year later, I saw only six of those who I invited had accepted God’s work of the last days, whereas other brothers and sisters had converted many people. I was ashamed and filled with regret. I had been negligent in my duties for these six months. If I could have turned back time, I wouldn’t have been negligent. The fact that others had brought so many people to God’s house showed that it was possible.
I saw thatsays, “In spreading the gospel, you must fulfill your responsibility and deal earnestly with everyone to whom you spread it. God saves people to the greatest extent possible, and you must be mindful of God’s will, you must not carelessly pass over anyone who is seeking and considering the true way. What’s more, in spreading the gospel, you must grasp the principles. With every person considering the true way, you must observe, understand, and get a grasp on such things as their religious background, the measure of their caliber, and the quality of their humanity. If you find a person who thirsts for the truth, who can understand God’s words, and who can accept the truth, then that person has been predestined by God. You should try with all your might to fellowship about the truth with them and gain them—unless they are of poor humanity and awful character, and their thirst is a pretense, and they keep arguing, and cling to their notions. In that case, you should set them aside and give up on them. Some people considering the true way are capable of understanding and are of great caliber, but are arrogant and self-righteous, adhering tightly to religious notions, so the truth should be fellowshiped to them to help solve this. You should only give up if they do not accept the truth no matter how you fellowship with them, for you will have done all you can and ought to do. In brief, do not lightly give up on anyone who can acknowledge and accept the truth. As long as they are willing to consider the true way and able to seek the truth, you should do all you can to read more of God’s words to them and fellowship more of the truth to them, and to testify to God’s work and resolve their notions, so that you may gain them and bring them before God. This is what is in line with the principles of spreading the gospel. So how can they be gained? If, in the process of engaging with them, you discover that this person is of good caliber and good humanity, you must do everything you can to fulfill your responsibility; you must pay a certain price, and use certain ways and means, and it doesn’t matter what ways and means you employ as long as they are in order to gain them. In sum, you must, in order to gain them, fulfill your responsibility, and use love, and do everything within your power. You must fellowship on all the truths that you understand and do all the things you should do. Even if this person is not gained, you will be left with a clear conscience. This is doing all you can and ought to do. If you do not fellowship the truth clearly, and the person keeps clinging to their notions, and if you lose your patience, and give up on this person of your own accord, then you will be neglecting in your duties, and for you, this will be a stain. Some people say, ‘Does having this stain mean I have been condemned by God?’ Such matters depend on whether people do these things intentionally and habitually. God does not condemn people for occasional transgressions; they need only repent. But when they knowingly do wrong and refuse to repent, they are condemned by God. How could God not condemn them when they are clearly aware of the true way and yet deliberately sin? Viewed according to the principles of the truth, this is being irresponsible, careless and perfunctory; at the very least, you have not fulfilled your responsibility, and such is how God judges your mistakes; if you refuse to repent, you shall be condemned. And so, to reduce or avoid such mistakes, people should do all they can to fulfill their responsibilities, actively trying to address all the questions that people considering the true way have, and definitely not putting off or delaying over crucial questions” (“Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words really got me thinking, and I was very moved. God had given me a commission, and expected me to give it my all, but I wasn’t willing to make sacrifices in my duty to bring people to God. I was really lazy, and too sloppy in my duty. I didn’t do as God said and give earnest attention to all who investigate the true way, or fulfill my responsibilities. I thought it was enough just to invite a lot of people to come listen, and that what came after wasn’t my job. In my eyes, they were the waterers’ responsibility, and whether they came to gatherings or not wasn’t my problem or my responsibility. So when they didn’t come to gatherings, I didn’t try my best to find words from God to help them. I thought their problems were hard for me to solve, so I wanted to give up on them. But actually, as long as they fit principles for preaching the gospel, I should give them serious attention, and it was me who invited them to come listen. In ordinary circumstances, I needed to continue communicating with them afterward, but I didn’t. I just passed them off to the waterers and left it at that. I really had no sense of responsibility, nor consideration of God’s will. Once I recognized my problem, I was determined to change my attitude, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I needed to pray and seek God’s assistance. Afterward, when I met with potential gospel recipients, I would often pray to God to help me bring them to Him, and have the will to work hard and make real sacrifices, not to be lax with my duty like before. I also asked my supervisor how to get people to accept God’s work of the last days. She shared some ways with me, and I started reflecting, wanting to see what I wasn’t doing yet. I realized that I wasn’t seeking truth in my work, and wasn’t learning from my brothers and sisters. When some people didn’t come to gatherings, I didn’t want to know why, and just chose to give up on them. My attitude toward my duty was way too lax.
It made me think of how God says, “How you regard God’s commissions is extremely important, and this is a very serious matter. If you cannot complete what God has entrusted to people, then you are not fit to live in His presence and should be punished. It is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that humans should complete whatever commissions God entrusts to them; this is their supreme responsibility, and is just as important as their very lives. If you do not take God’s commissions seriously, then you are betraying Him in the most grievous way; in this, you are more lamentable than Judas, and should be cursed. People must gain a thorough understanding of how to view what God entrusts to them and, at the very least, must comprehend that the commissions He entrusts to humanity are exaltations and special favors from God; they are most glorious things. Everything else can be abandoned; even if one must sacrifice one’s own life, he must still fulfill God’s commission” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s words, I was ashamed. As one of God’s creations, I should perform my duty well. This is my mission and the reason I’m alive. If I can’t do this, then I will have lost the function I was created for, and won’t be worthy to live before God. I will ultimately be despised and cast out by God. Spreading the kingdom gospel is God’s most urgent wish, and God wants me to give my all in my duty, not be sloppy with it. I thought of when God called on Noah to build the ark. Although it was an extremely difficult task, Noah didn’t give up. He didn’t ask God when the ark would be finished, or when the flood would come. He just followed God’s instructions and built the ark. After recognizing this, I realized that I needed to change my attitude toward my duty, follow Noah’s example, and do my utmost when performing my duty. Once during a gathering, others were sharing their preaching experiences, and how they used God’s words to resolve potential gospel recipients’ issues. I was very moved after listening to them. I didn’t want to be lazy anymore. I wanted to be responsible. I wanted to put all my energy into my duty.
I would frequently observe which people didn’t come to gatherings, immediately contact those who weren’t there, and fellowship with them on God’s words. When I put my heart into attending to each person, most of them came to gatherings regularly. I remember there was one person who hadn’t come for several days. I sent her a text, but when she didn’t respond for a few days, I began to worry. I called Brother Derly, a waterer, to ask what was going on. He said she’d encountered difficulties at work, so he shared some of God’s words with her. After hearing this, I felt it wasn’t enough, so I asked Brother Derly to call her and fellowship over the phone. To my surprise, after fellowshiping, she agreed to attend the gathering that same day, and apologized for not coming before. Before long, she joined the church. My heart was overjoyed. I was so thankful to God!
I saw that God also says, “If you are truly possessed of conscience and sense, then when you do things, you will put a little more heart into them, as well as a little more kindness, responsibility, and consideration, and you will be able to put forth more effort. When you can put forth more effort, the results of the duties that you perform will improve. Your results will be better, and this will satisfy both other people and God” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, Part Three). “You must attain entry from the side of positivity. If you wait passively, then you are still being negative. You must be proactive in cooperating with Me; be diligent, and never be lazy. Always fellowship with Me and attain an even deeper intimacy with Me. If you do not understand, do not be impatient for quick results. It is not that I will not tell you; it is that I want to see whether you rely on Me when you are in My presence, and whether you are confident in your dependence on Me. You must always remain close to Me, and place all matters in My hands. Do not go back in vain. After you have been unconsciously close to Me for a period of time, My intentions shall be revealed to you. If you grasp them, then you will truly come face to face with Me, and you will truly have found My face. You will have much clarity and steadfastness within, and you will have something to rely on. You will then also possess power, as well as confidence, and you will have a path forward. Everything will come easily to you” (“Chapter 9” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in). Before, I was passive in my duty and lacked gumption. I would carelessly abandon potential gospel recipients. Guidance from God’s words made me understand that what’s in our heart is very important. When we treat people with love, and fellowship with sincerity, we will see God’s guidance. After I understood this, I prayed to God, asking Him to help me perform my duty well, and consciously practice His words. Afterward, I was proactive in speaking with those potential gospel recipients. If they met the principles of preaching, I would continue to learn about their situation until they accepted God’s work. When I did this, I felt God guiding me bit by bit, helping me understand how to do my duty, and I felt very reassured at heart. Thanks be to God!