Selfishness Is Vile
By Yang Shuo, China
At the beginning of this year, Sister Zhang and I were supporting a newly established church together. Sister Zhang was new to the faith and didn’t have much life experience, but she was of good caliber and actively pursued the truth, so I wanted to cultivate her as quickly as possible, because this would make our future work together in the church run much more smoothly. I intentionally got Sister Zhang involved in all of the church’s different work projects and I would support her whenever I noticed any of her deficiencies. After a period of training, Sister Zhang made great progress. But several months later, she was promoted and reassigned. I was reluctant to let her go and felt like I was losing a very capable assistant. Thinking of how I’d have to handle all the church work on my own going forward, having to work harder was one thing, but if my work performance suffered, what would people think of me? Then it occurred to me that it would benefit the work of God’s house for her to take on a greater load. I shouldn’t be so selfish—when Sister Zhang left, I could just cultivate someone else.
Soon after that, a few nearby churches organized a gathering for watering workers, to summarize and share their experiences. The leader asked me to pick a watering worker to attend. At the time, I considered recommending Sister Wang. She was an effective waterer and very meticulous and responsible. If I sent her to the gathering, she could cultivate even more brothers and sisters when she returned, and then the church’s watering work would be even more effective, which would make me look good. So I sent Sister Wang to the gathering. A few days after Sister Wang returned from the gathering, the leader kept seeking her out. At the time, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Is the leader going to promote Sister Wang? She’s crucial to our church’s watering work. If she leaves, won’t our watering work suffer? Then what will the brothers and sisters think of me? If I had only known, I would never have let her attend that gathering.” Later on, Sister Wang told me there was another church in dire need of watering workers, so the leader planned to reassign her. I was reluctant to assent to this, but I worried that if I didn’t agree, the leader would say I was selfish and inconsiderate of God’s will. I had no choice but to let Sister Wang go. After she left, I felt pretty depressed. I thought to myself: “If the new believers leave the church because there were no capable workers to water them, will the leader deal with me and say I didn’t fulfill my responsibility? How could I deal with that kind of shaming?” The more I thought, the more resistant I felt.
One day, when I returned home from a gathering, two sisters who were working to water newcomers said to me: “We received a letter from the leader asking you to find two more watering workers and to write assessments for the two of us.” When I heard this, I was visibly unhappy. I thought to myself: “Is the leader planning to reassign them as well? I only just trained up these two sisters. I’ve been able to delegate a lot of work to them and have much less to worry about now. If they’re reassigned, not only will my workload increase, my work performance will definitely suffer. If that happens, won’t the leader say I’m not a good leader?” After this occurred to me, I unhappily replied: “I really don’t know what the leader is thinking.” The two sisters saw that I looked down and perplexedly asked: “What’s the matter? Isn’t the leader just asking you to find two more watering workers?” After hearing their response, I felt a little embarrassed. After regaining my composure, I perfunctorily replied, “Alright, then we should choose some qualified candidates.” That’s what I said aloud, but in my mind I was contesting the decision: “Is the leader treating our church like a talent training center? First she wants this one, now she wants that one. The church has finally started making progress in our work, but how are we supposed to proceed if she reassigns these talents?” The more I thought about it, the worse I felt and I began to feel some animosity toward the leader. I continued to fulfill my duties, but with less enthusiasm than before. Soon after, during a gathering, the leader said she wanted to hear more about Brother Zhao, because she wanted to promote and cultivate him. As soon as I heard this, that resentful feeling returned. I thought to myself, “Brother Zhao has performed well in his duties and I want to assign him to take charge of watering work. If all these people are reassigned, how am I supposed to do all this work by myself? Can I really get good results then?” The more I thought about it, the angrier I became: “Go ahead, reassign away! Far be it from me to get in the way of the work of God’s house.” After that, I just couldn’t calm myself down and felt all flustered in the gathering. After the gathering, I trudged back home and decided to write a letter to the leader, asking her to not reassign Brother Zhao. At the time, I realized that I was being irrational, and so I thought better of writing the letter. But I was still upset and feeling down.
Later on, the leader held a gathering with us, and I fellowshiped about my recent state and behavior. The leader showed me a video reading of God’s word.says, “The essence of the antichrists’ selfishness and vileness is obvious; their manifestations of this kind are particularly prominent. The house of God entrusts them with a piece of work, and if this work doesn’t give them the chance to show their face, they are not interested; if it brings renown and benefits, and lets them show their face, they are very interested, and willing to accept it. If it is work that is thankless or involves offending people, or is of no benefit to their status or reputation, they have no interest, and will not accept it, as if this work has nothing to do with them, and is not the work they ought to be doing. When they encounter difficulties, there is no chance that they will seek the truth to solve them, much less give any consideration to the work of God’s house and try to see the bigger picture. For example, within the scope of the work of God’s house, based on overall work needs, there may be some personnel transfers. If there is an important piece of work that requires someone to be cherry-picked from a church—and this person is the best choice—then what is the manifestation of the church leader approaching this matter with sense? As befits the circumstances, the leader should find a replacement to fill the vacancy. Once a suitable person has been found, the original person should be released and allowed to go where they are needed by the work of God’s house. Because no one is the personal property of a leader or worker or church, and everyone is the object of God’s work of salvation, they should unconditionally submit to the sovereignty and arrangements of God, and to the centralized arrangements and coordination of God’s house. When required by the work of God’s house, no matter who they are, everyone should submit to the coordination and arrangements of God’s house, and absolutely should not be controlled by any individual leader or worker as if they belong to them. The obedience of God’s chosen ones to the centralized arrangements of the house of God is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, and may not be defied by anyone. Unless an individual leader or worker makes an irrational transferal that is not in accordance with principle—in which case this may be disobeyed—all of God’s chosen ones should obey, and no leader or worker has the right or any reason to try to control anyone. Would you say there is any work that is not the work of the house of God? Is there any work that does not involve the expansion of God’s kingdom gospel? It is all the work of God’s house, each work is equal, and there is no ‘yours’ and ‘mine.’ And yet, what is the antichrists’ response when faced with this kind of situation? They know who is most suitable, who is best, but that is not who they provide; they only offer two ordinary people, and then find some pretext to turn the screws on you, either saying how work is so busy, or that they’re short-handed, people are hard to find, and if these two are transferred, work will take a hit. And they ask you what they are supposed to do, and make you feel guilty. Is this not the way the devil operates? This is how the unbelievers do things. Are those who act like this in the house of God good people? Are they people who act according to principle? (No.) This is what the unbelievers, the nonbelievers do. And is this not selfish and vile? What do you say, does the absence of a single, capable talent leave the leader or team head utterly enfeebled? Are they not worrying about their work being slowed down, impacting their status and grip on those below? (Yes.) So they want to hold on to the professionals. If these talents are transferred somewhere else, it’ll be like losing their right arm, the pace and efficiency of their work will be affected, which will impact their status. This is what they’re thinking. And after they start thinking about their status, they don’t let these people go. This is selfishness and vileness. God’s chosen ones should be centrally allocated by the house of God. This has nothing to do with any leader, team head, or individual. Everyone must act according to principle; this is the rule of God’s house. When antichrists do not act according to the principles of God’s house, when they constantly scheme for the sake of their own status and interests, and make brothers and sisters of good caliber serve them in order to consolidate their power and status, is this not selfish and vile? Outwardly, keeping people of good caliber by their side and not allowing them to be transferred by the house of God appears as if they are thinking of church work, but in fact they are only thinking of their own power and status, and not about the work of God’s house at all. They are afraid that they will mess their work up, be replaced, and lose their status. When antichrists give no thought to the wider work of God’s house, think only of their own status, protect their own status with no compunction for the cost to the interests of the house of God, and defend their own status and interests to the detriment of the church’s work, this is selfish and vile” (“Excursus Four: Summarizing the Character of Antichrists and the Essence of Their Disposition (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). expose how antichrists are deeply selfish and despicable. In order to preserve their status and reputation, they hoard people and are unwilling to share them out, not considering the work of God’s house in the slightest. I saw how my own behavior was just like that of an antichrist. Especially when I read the lines: “When antichrists do not act according to the principles of God’s house, when they constantly scheme for the sake of their own status and interests, and make brothers and sisters of good caliber serve them in order to consolidate their power and status, is this not selfish and vile?” God’s words cut me to the quick. I reflected on my recent behavior: When I learned that Sister Wang might be promoted, I worried that the watering work would suffer and my reputation would be damaged, so I didn’t want to let her leave, and was even regretful that I’d sent her to attend the gathering. When the leader asked me to find two more waterers and write assessments of my sisters, I guessed that the leader was planning on reassigning them and felt resistant and argumentative. I even developed animosity toward the leader. When the leader wanted to promote Brother Zhao, despite knowing that Brother Zhao satisfied the principles for promotion and training, when I thought about how if he left, it would have an impact on the gospel and watering work of the church, I didn’t want to let him leave. I treated the brothers and sisters as my capable right-hand men, and wanted to keep them all to myself to help me solidify my status and reputation and satisfy my selfish desires. I didn’t think of the interests of God’s house, nor did I consider how to act to satisfy God. I was just so selfish and lowly. The unbelievers of the secular world do whatever they can to keep their top talent by their side to help them expand and develop their enterprises. I went about my own duty in just the same way. I treated my duty like my own personal enterprise, acting according to self-serving principles and only considering my own reputation and status. God detested and was disgusted by such actions—I was walking the antichrist’s path of resisting God.
Later on, I came across another passage of God’s words. “If someone says they love the truth and that they pursue the truth, but in essence, the goal they pursue is to distinguish themselves, to show off, to make people think highly of them, to achieve their own interests, and the performing of their duty is not to obey or satisfy God, and instead is to achieve prestige and status, then their pursuit is illegitimate. That being the case, when it comes to the work of the church, are their actions an obstacle, or do they help move it forward? They are clearly an obstacle; they do not move it forward. All who wave the banner of doing the work of the church yet pursue their own personal prestige and status, run their own operation, create their own little group, their own little kingdom—is this kind of person performing their duty? All the work they do essentially interrupts, disrupts, and impairs the work of the church. What is the consequence of their pursuit of status and prestige? First, this affects how God’s chosen people eat and drink God’s word and understand the truth, it hinders their life entry, it stops them from entering the right track of faith in God, and leads them onto the wrong path—which harms the chosen ones, and brings them to ruin. And what does it ultimately do to the work of the church? It is dismantlement, interruption and impairment. This is the consequence brought about by people’s pursuit of fame and status. When they perform their duty in this way, can this not be defined as walking the path of an antichrist? When God asks that people put aside status and prestige, it is not that He is depriving people of the right to choose; rather, it is because, while pursuing status and prestige, people harm the work of the church, they interrupt the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life, and even have an influence on others eating and drinking God’s words normally and understanding the truth, and thus achieving God’s salvation. What’s even more serious is that, when people pursue their own prestige and status, such behavior and actions can be characterized as cooperating with Satan in harming and obstructing, to the utmost extent, the normal progress of God’s work, and stopping God’s will from being normally carried out among His chosen people. They are deliberately opposing and arguing the toss with God. This is the nature of people’s pursuit of status and prestige. The problem with people pursuing their own interests is that the goals they pursue are the goals of Satan—they are goals that are wicked and unjust. When people pursue personal interests such as prestige and status, they unwittingly become a tool of Satan, they become a channel for Satan, and, moreover, they become an embodiment of Satan. They play a negative role in the church; toward the work of the church, and toward the normal church life and normal pursuit of God’s chosen people, the effect they have is to disturb and impair; they have a negative effect” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). Through God’s words, I realized that the nature and consequences of failing to practice the truth and always safeguarding one’s own interests are truly severe. It disturbs and obstructs the work of God’s house and is a service performed for Satan. God’s house cultivates and promotes people in order to allow them to receive training in a suitable position, and allow them to make the most out of their skills. This is beneficial for our brothers’ and sisters’ life entry and the work of God’s house and is in keeping with God’s will—it’s a positive thing that I, as a leader, should preserve and support. Instead, when I saw brothers and sisters being promoted, I wasn’t happy for them, but only considered my own reputation and status. I felt that these brothers and sisters were effective, they were my right-hand men, capable deputies. Just as the saying goes, “A thousand soldiers are no replacement for one good general.” I would have much less to worry about if they were fulfilling duties in the church, we could work much more effectively, and my status would be solidified. So when one after the other were promoted and reassigned, I felt resistant, resentful and didn’t want to let them leave. I didn’t give the slightest thought to what would be better for the work of God’s house, nor did I consider what kind of environment would provide the best training for them, allowing them to put their skills into play. I called that fulfilling my duty? I was clearly acting as Satan’s emissary, obstructing the work of God’s house. I was only fulfilling my duty for my own reputation and status, and no matter how much I did, God would not acknowledge it. I thought of the pastors and elders of the religious world who are fully aware thathas testified the Lord has returned and expressed many truths, and yet, for status and income, they still go to great lengths to stop believers investigating the true way and welcoming the Lord. They treat their believers like their private assets, and keep them firmly within their dominion. They strive with God for believers and have become antichrists and servants of evil, condemned and cursed by God. Was the way I acted any different from these pastors and elders? In order to protect and solidify my status, I didn’t mind sacrificing the others’ life entry, or their chance to prepare good deeds and be saved. I was truly selfish and lacking in humanity! If I didn’t repent, I would meet the same fate as the Pharisees of the religious world, offending God’s disposition and enduring His punishment and curses.
At the time, I came across another passage of God’s words. “For all who fulfill their duty, however profound or shallow their understanding of the truth, the simplest way of practice by which to enter the reality of the truth is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything, and to let go of selfish desires, individual intentions, motives, reputation, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least one should do. If a person performing their duty cannot do even this much, then how can they be said to be performing their duty? This is not performing one’s duty. You should first consider the interests of God’s house, be considerate of God’s will, and consider the work of the church, and put these things first and foremost; only after that can you think about the stability of your status or how others see you. Do you not feel that it gets a little easier when you divide it into these steps and make some compromises? If you practice like this for a while, you will come to feel that satisfying God is not difficult. In addition, you should be able to fulfill your responsibilities, perform your obligations and duties, set aside your selfish desires, set aside your own intents and motives, have consideration for God’s will, and put first the interests of God’s house, the work of the church, and the duty you should perform. After experiencing this for a while, you will feel that this is a good way to conduct yourself. It is living straightforwardly and honestly, without being a base person or a good-for-nothing, and living justly and honorably rather than being despicable and mean. You will feel that this is how a person should live and act. Gradually, the desire within your heart to gratify your own interests will lessen” (“Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Thanks be to God for pointing out a path of practice. The key to doing our duties is to prioritize the interests of God’s house and put aside our personal interests to safeguard the work of God’s house. In reality, people with conscience, rationality and humanity, would consider what the work required, and submit to the arrangements of God’s house if people were reassigned. They wouldn’t consider their own interests. The core aspect of one’s work as a leader is to water the brothers and sisters and cultivate talent, allowing every brother and sister to put their talents to play and fulfill the duties most suited to them. God’s chosen belong to God, not one person. The church can choose to reassign people based upon what is needed for the work and who is most suited to which duty. I had no right to hoard people for myself. Once I understood God’s will, I was willing to forsake my flesh and no longer selfishly and despicably prioritize my own interests.
One day, I received a letter from the leader, asking me to write an assessment of Brother Zhao. She wanted to evaluate whether he could be promoted to lead the watering work. I thought to myself: “Brother Zhao currently presides over our church’s gospel and watering work. If he leaves and our work performance suffers, won’t the leader say I’m incompetent?” Just then, I suddenly realized, I was being selfish and self-interested again. Brother Zhao was a talented waterer, it would be beneficial to the work of God’s house to have him responsible for a larger portion of work. In turn, he would get more training, so I should be supportive. The work might suffer as a result of his leaving, but I was sure that God would prepare a suitable replacement for us. At the time, I recalled God’s words, which say: “God is forever supreme and ever honorable, while man is forever base, forever worthless. This is because God is forever making sacrifices and devoting Himself to mankind; man, however, forever takes and strives only for himself. God is forever taking pains for mankind’s survival, yet man never contributes anything for the sake of the light or for righteousness. Even if man makes an effort for a time, it cannot withstand a single blow, for the effort of man is always for his own sake and not for others. Man is always selfish, while God is forever selfless. God is the source of all that is just, good, and beautiful, while man is he who succeeds to and makes manifest all ugliness and evil. God will never alter His essence of righteousness and beauty, yet man is perfectly capable, at any time and in any situation, of betraying righteousness and straying far from God” (“It Is Very Important to Understand God’s Disposition” in). God is the most holy! God is forever unselfish, and whatever work He does or situation He devises for people, He always does so with consideration for people’s lives, and in order to cleanse and transform our corrupt dispositions, allowing us to be saved and live out normal humanity. Reflecting on myself, as soon as the situation God devised threatened my interests, I complained and resisted and was terribly selfish and despicable. Thinking of God’s holiness and selflessness, I felt ashamed, regretful and remorseful. I realized that living in this way was wretched, lowly and worthless. I had to stop being so selfish and despicable, only considering my own reputation and status. I needed to make the interests of God’s house my first priority. So I collected all of Brother Zhao’s evaluations and submitted them to the leader and, after that, Brother Zhao was promoted to be a supervisor. After practicing in that way, I felt grounded and peaceful.
Some time later, I noticed that Sister Li had good caliber, fellowshiped the truth in a detailed, layered way, was loving and patient with the brothers and sisters, had the talents needed to spread the gospel and water new believers and was suitable for training. In my heart, I thanked God continually, He had already prepared a replacement for me. After Brother Zhao left, not only did our gospel work not suffer, it even improved a bit. Before, I had always thought that when these people left, our work would suffer. Now I realize I was completely wrong. This was just my excuse for relying on pre-existing assets and not doing practical work. In reality, it’s important for one’s heart to be in the right place. If you can be considerate of God’s will, refrain from acting self-interestedly, train up new talents as soon as others are reassigned, and resolve problems in your work in a timely manner, you will receive God’s blessings. And your work will continually improve. Thank God!