Stay True to the Truth, Not Emotion
By Jiahao, China
I received a letter from a leader one day in July 2017 saying the church was purging nonbelievers, and asking me to write about my brother’s behavior. I was really surprised and kind of nervous. Did they want to kick my brother out? Otherwise why would they have me write about him? I knew that he didn’t reador attend gatherings in his free time, but was always out having fun with his friends, following evil trends and didn’t have any interest in matters of faith. He’d also told me not to be so focused on religion, but to get out in the world, like him. I fellowshiped with him, but he didn’t listen and even got annoyed and said, “Enough of that, you’re always talking about this stuff, and I don’t care!” Then he just went to bed. Brothers and sisters offered him fellowship plenty of times, advising him to read God’s words and go to gatherings, but he wouldn’t accept it. He said following God was constraining, that he always had to find time to gather. He’d joined the church reluctantly in the first place, to accommodate our mom. That’s how he always was. It seemed he really was a nonbeliever, and it would be in line with the principles if he was removed from the church. But we’d always been close. Since we were little he’d always save some of any good food for me, and he’d give me half of whatever money anyone gave to him. Once, a teacher gave me detention in school, and he got so upset he cried. No other siblings in our village were as close as we were. At that thought, I couldn’t bear to write about his problems. I didn’t want to break that bond. If I was honest about his behavior and the church ended up kicking him out, he wouldn’t have any chance at salvation. Wouldn’t that be cruel and heartless of me? What if he found out what I’d written about him, and he never spoke to me again? I decided to write something more positive, that he read God’s words sometimes, and he believed in his heart even though he didn’t go to gatherings. That would give him some leeway, and if the leader saw that, she’d probably fellowship with him more. Maybe he’d get a chance to stay in the church. But if I wasn’t honest about his behavior, that would be lying and covering up the truth. That would mislead brothers and sisters and disrupt the church work’s normal progress. On one side was the church’s work, on the other, my brother. What could I do? I was really upset and couldn’t calm down to do my duty. The thought of writing about him made my mind a blank, and I didn’t know how to even start. I was in more turmoil the more I thought about it, so I silently prayed, “God, I want to be fair in my appraisal of my brother, but I’m bound by emotion now, and I can’t do it. Please guide me to not be ruled by emotion in my approach, but to follow Your words.”
I read this passage of God’s words after praying: “Those who drag their utterly unbelieving children and relatives into church are all extremely selfish, and they are just exhibiting kindness. These people only focus on being loving, regardless of whether they believe or not and regardless of whether it is God’s will. Some bring their wives before God, or drag their parents before God, and whether or not the Holy Spirit agrees with this or is working in them, they blindly continue to ‘adopt talented people’ for God. What benefit can possibly be gained from extending kindness toward these nonbelievers? Even if they, who are without the presence of the Holy Spirit, struggle to follow God, they still cannot be saved as one might believe. Those who can receive salvation are not actually so easy to obtain. People who have not undergone the Holy Spirit’s work and trials, and have not been perfected by God incarnate, are utterly incapable of being made complete. Therefore, from the moment they begin to nominally follow God, those people lack the Holy Spirit’s presence. In light of their conditions and actual states, they simply cannot be made complete. As such, the Holy Spirit decides not to expend much energy upon them, nor does He provide any enlightenment or guide them in any way; He merely allows them to follow along, and will ultimately reveal their outcomes—this is enough” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in). I learned from God’s words that wanting to say nice things about my brother to keep him in the church and give him a chance at salvation was my own wishful thinking. God’s words clearly tell us that those who don’t truly follow God, who just nominally believe can’t be saved. God saves those who love and can accept the truth. Only that kind of person can gain the Holy Spirit’s presence and work, understand and gain the truth, change their life disposition, and ultimately be saved by God and remain. In essence, nonbelievers don’t love the truth—they detest it. They never accept the truth, and no matter how long they believe, their perspectives, outlooks on life, and values never change. They’re just like unbelievers. God doesn’t acknowledge them, and they’ll never gain the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment or guidance. They could follow till the end, but they’ll never change their dispositions—they can’t be saved. Thinking about my brother, he didn’t love the truth, he detested it. He was always partying with unbelievers, not reading God’s words or going to gatherings. He didn’t want to do a duty either, thinking there was nothing to be gained. He always complained that a life of faith was boring, and believing or not was all the same. He wouldn’t listen to anyone’s fellowship, and too much fellowship would annoy him. Based on his behavior, he was a nominal believer, a nonbeliever and God wouldn’t acknowledge him at all. He’d never gain the Holy Spirit’s work or achieve understanding of the truth. No matter how nicely I portrayed him to keep him in the church, he’d never be saved. Since I’d already determined he was a nonbeliever and God wouldn’t save him, if I got caught up in emotion and protected him to have him stay in the church, wouldn’t that be going against God? If I didn’t fairly, accurately write my assessment based on the facts, but misled the others so someone who should be removed wasn’t removed in time, wouldn’t that be hindering the church’s work? I knew I had to let go of my feelings, follow the principles, and write about my brother accurately—only that would be in line with God’s will. I felt a sense of relief after writing about his behavior and the church did end up removing him. I was able to calmly accept that outcome. Thanks to the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, I didn’t shield my brother out of emotion, but I was able to fairly and objectively evaluate him. I was really grateful to God.
Then in July 2021, a church leader asked me to write an assessment of my mom. I was thinking that she wasn’t sharing the gospel based on principle recently and nearly endangered the church. When others pointed out the problem, she wouldn’t accept it. She was squabbling endlessly over right and wrong, which was constraining for them. It wasn’t the first or second time she’d stirred up trouble this way. During a gathering, a leader once asked another sister to read God’s words, not her. She started saying that leader was oppressing her, and was a false leader. A sister noticed she was making a fuss in a gathering and asked her to keep her voice down and be aware of the environment. My mom said that sister was quibbling over right and wrong, and she wouldn’t come back if the sister did that again. She would bicker endlessly over any little thing and was a troublemaker in gatherings. She’d already become disruptive to church life. Others had fellowshiped with her and pruned her many times, hoping she’d learn about herself and repent, but she wasn’t having any of it. She even twisted the facts, saying people would seize upon one little wrong thing she said. She wouldn’t accept the truth. The principles on this say she should be placed into Group B for gatherings, to keep her from causing more disruptions and impacting brothers’ and sisters’ church life. I knew I should write out my assessment of her for the church as soon as possible. But I thought about how much she cared how others saw her, her reluctance to accept the truth, and her explosive temper. She tended to get into conflict and give the cold shoulder to anyone who criticized her. If she knew I’d written about her, would she be able to take it? Wouldn’t it be humiliating for her if she knew her own family said that about her? She might get depressed and give up her faith. I was really upset and I kept thinking of all the ways she’d shown me love and care. Once when I was little and had a really high fever in the middle of the night, she put me on her back and carried me to the doctor in the next village. My fever was so high, the doctor didn’t want to take me, so that same night she carried me to the town hospital. She always helped me get everything in order in my life, with every detail taken care of. She gave birth to me and raised me, and she shared the gospel with me and brought me before God. She was supportive of me in my duty. She was so good to me—if I revealed her evil, nonbeliever behaviors, wouldn’t that be conscienceless of me, and wouldn’t that be hurtful for her? If others knew I had personally written that evaluation of my mom, exposing her disruption of church life, they might criticize me for being so ruthless toward my own mother, call me cold-blooded, and an ungrateful wretch of a daughter. I knew my mom wasn’t someone who accepted the truth, but she’d been so caring toward me, and she was my very own mother, after all. So, I wanted to avoid writing that assessment of my mom. The leader kept pressing me, but I just casually said I’d do it, then kept putting it off. Before, we’d been a family of believers—it was a happy feeling. We’d sing hymns and pray together, read God’s words and talk about our feelings. Sometimes those memories would surface in my mind. But my brother had been removed, and my mom was facing being moved to Group B. I was really miserable and didn’t know how to face that situation. I didn’t have the faith to do any pursuit and didn’t have any drive for my duty. I didn’t feel a burden to do any seeking to help others with their problems, I was just going through the motions in gatherings, absent-minded and unable to fellowship anything. I was just muddling through every day that way, really suffering. I knew I wasn’t in a good state, so I came before God and prayed, asking Him to guide me out of that negativity so I wouldn’t be held back by emotion.
I read two passages of God’s words later on: “What issues relate to emotions? Number one is how you evaluate your own family, how you react to the things they do. ‘The things they do’ includes when they disturb and interrupt the church’s work, when they are judgmental about people behind their backs, when they do the things of the nonbelievers, and so on. Could you be impartial toward your family? If you were asked to evaluate them in writing, would you do so fairly and objectively, putting your own emotions aside? And are you sentimental toward those you get on with or who previously helped you? Would you be precise, impartial, and objective about their actions and behavior? Would you immediately report or expose them when you discovered them meddling and intruding?” (Identifying False Leaders (2)). “For example, if your relatives or parents used to believe in God, but now they have been purged, you will be able to discern them and have no complaints, and you can put aside family relationships and use the truth you now understand to evaluate who they really are. If you understand some truth, you will be able to produce an accurate characterization of them. This is not meant to tear apart your blood relationships, but to determine what kind and what type of person they are. If your point of view is correct and in line with the truth, you will be able to stand on God’s side, and your views on things will be in line with God. If your views are those of the flesh, you will always see these things from the perspective of family affection, and this person will always be your relative to you. If you cannot rid yourself of this relationship, then your view of your relatives will be in a conflict with God’s words, even to the point of contradicting them. In this case, you will not be able to stand on God’s side, and you will have notions and misunderstandings about God. Therefore, regardless of your views, as long as they do not conform to the truth, they are in opposition to God’s views” (“How to Discern the Nature and Essence of Paul” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words showed me that we can’t look at things or people from a fleshly, emotional perspective. We have to clearly discern their nature and essence according to God’s words and the truth. When we look at people that way, we’re not likely to be reined in by affection. I was always evaluating things from an emotional perspective, thinking about how she’s my mom, and how she loved and cared for me, so I couldn’t pick up the pen to write that assessment. But God says we need discernment over people based on their nature and essence, and seeing those things clearly is the only way to fairly apply the principles and not be ruled by emotion. So what kind of person was my mom, really? She was usually pretty enthusiastic and was caring in daily life, but that just meant she was warm-hearted. She took great care of me, which just meant she fulfilled a mother’s responsibility. But by nature she was arrogant, really protective of her reputation, and wouldn’t accept the truth at all. She’d became biased and resistant to anyone who pointed out her issues or criticized her, and would sulk over it. When it was bad, she’d have outright conflict with them and oppose anyone exposing her, which was constraining for others. Based on her behavior, if she kept gathering with brothers and sisters, she was sure to disrupt church life and hold up others’ life entry. If she were moved to Group B according to principle, everyone could have proper gatherings and that arrangement would be a warning to her. If she really reflected and learned about herself, it could be good for her life. But if she resisted it, if she wouldn’t accept it or even left the faith, she’d be exposed and eliminated. Then I’d see her nature and essence more clearly, if she’s the wheat or the tares, if she should stay at all. At that point I understood God’s will. God set up this situation to help me gain discernment, and learn to see people’s nature and essence according to His words so I could set emotion aside in my actions and treat people according to principle.
I read another passage of God’s words: “Who is Satan, who are demons, and who are God’s enemies if not resisters who do not believe in God? Are they not those people who are disobedient to God? Are they not those who claim to have faith, yet who lack truth? Are they not those who merely seek to obtain blessings while being unable to bear witness for God? You still mingle with those demons today and bear conscience and love toward them, but in this case are you not extending good intentions toward Satan? Are you not in league with demons? If people these days are still unable to distinguish between good and evil, and continue to blindly be loving and merciful without any intention of seeking God’s will or being able in any way to harbor God’s intentions as their own, then their endings will be all the more wretched. Anyone who does not believe in the God in the flesh is an enemy of God. If you can bear conscience and love toward an enemy, do you not lack a sense of righteousness? If you are compatible with those which I detest and with which I disagree, and still bear love or personal feelings toward them, then are you not disobedient? Are you not intentionally resisting God? Does such a person possess truth? If people bear conscience toward enemies, love for demons, and mercy for Satan, then are they not intentionally disrupting God’s work?” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words revealed my precise state. I knew my mom had believed in God for years but wouldn’t accept the truth, and when others tried to help her, to prune and deal with her, she couldn’t accept it from God. She was always quibbling over things and disrupting church life, acting as Satan’s minion. But I wouldn’t stand up and expose her, I just kept shielding her. I thought if I didn’t expose her or write that assessment, that was having a conscience. It was actually having love and a conscience for Satan, not remotely considering the work of God’s house or brothers’ and sisters’ interests. I was taking Satan’s side and speaking for Satan. Wasn’t that what God called “intentionally resisting God”? There weren’t principles in my love and I didn’t know right from wrong—it was confused love. I was totally shielding my mom, enabling her to continue disrupting church life. I had a part in her evil. I was hurting others and myself. I was blinded by my affection, it had my feet bound. The leader urged me multiple times to write that assessment, but I kept putting it off and delaying church work. I felt really guilty when I realized that. I also wondered why I couldn’t help but be held back by emotion in that type of situation. What was the real problem there? I came before God to pray and seek, asking Him to guide me to find the path to cast off the bonds of emotion.
I read a passage of God’s words after my prayer. God’s words say, “By what principle do God’s words ask that people treat others? Love what God loves, and hate what God hates: This is the principle that should be adhered to. God loves those who pursue the truth and are able to follow His will. These are also the people that we should love. Those who are not able to follow God’s will, who hate God, and rebel against God—these people are despised by God, and we should despise them, too. This is what God asks of man. … If a person is cursed by God, but they are a parent or relative of yours and are quite good as far as you can tell, then you might find yourself unable to hate that person, and there might even be a good deal of intimacy and a close relationship between you. Hearing that God despises them troubles you, you are not able to hate them, thinking they’re quite good to you. You maintain a personal relationship with them, and you cannot let go of them. Why is that? It’s because you’re bound by emotion. That person is good to you and has never hurt you, so you can’t bring yourself to hate them. You could only hate them if they did hurt you. Would that hatred be in line with the principles of the truth? Also, you’re bound by traditional notions, thinking that they are a parent or relative, so if you hate them, you would be scorned and reviled by society, condemned as unfilial, without a conscience, and not even human. You think you would suffer divine condemnation and punishment. Even if you wanted to hate them, your conscience won’t let you. Why does your conscience function this way? It’s a way of thinking you were taught by your parents, what social culture steeped you in and imparted to you. It’s rooted very deeply in your heart, making you mistakenly believe that it’s a positive thing, that it’s something you’ve inherited from your ancestors and is always a good thing. You learned it first and it remains dominant, creating a great stumbling block and disruption in your faith and acceptance of the truth, leaving you unable to put God’s words into practice, and to love what God loves, hate what God hates. You know in your heart that your life came from God, not from your parents, and you’ve seen your parents not only don’t believe in God, but resist God; God hates them and you should submit to God, stand on His side, but you just can’t bring yourself to hate them, even if you want to. You can’t turn that corner, you can’t steel your heart, and you cannot practice the truth. What’s the root of this? Satan uses this kind of traditional culture and notions of morality to bind your thoughts, your mind, and your heart, leaving you unable to accept God’s words; you have been possessed by these things, and rendered incapable of accepting God’s words. Even when you want to practice God’s words, these things cause turmoil within you, and cause you to oppose God’s words and what God asks, and you are powerless to rid yourself of this yoke. After struggling for a while, you resort to compromise: You prefer to believe traditional notions of morality are correct and in line with the truth, and so you reject or forsake God’s words. You do not accept God’s words as the truth and you think nothing of being saved, feeling within your heart that you still live in this world, you still have to rely on these people to survive. Unable to endure society’s recrimination, you would rather choose to give up the truth and God’s words, abandoning yourself to traditional notions of morality and the influence of Satan, preferring to offend God and not practice the truth. Is man not pitiful? Does he not have need of God’s salvation?” (“Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I saw from God’s words that He requires us to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Thealso once said, “Who is My mother? And who are My brothers? … Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother, sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:48, 50). God loves those who pursue the truth and are able to accept it. Only they are brothers and sisters and the ones I should love, and help out of love. Those who despise the truth and never practice it are all nonbelievers, not brothers and sisters. Even if they’re family, we should see and expose them based on principles of the truth. That doesn’t mean you’re not being filial to your parents and won’t care for them, but it means you should treat them rationally and fairly, according to their nature and essence. But “Blood is thicker than water” and “Man is not inanimate; how can he be free from emotions?” were satanic poisons I was steeped in. I wasn’t principled, but I protected and sided with my family based on fleshly affections. When I was writing about my brother, I knew he’d already shown himself to be a nonbeliever and should be removed from the church, but I was caught up in affection and didn’t want to write out the truth. I wanted to conceal the facts and deceive the others. When the leader had me write about my mom, I knew she was disruptive to church life and I should write an accurate, objective assessment to help the leader expose and limit her. But thinking of her as my mom, and how good she was to me, I was afraid by writing that I’d always feel guilty and wouldn’t be able to live with it. I was also afraid others would think I was ruthless and cold-blooded. Full of misgivings and apprehensions, I kept putting it off. These satanic poisons were deeply rooted in my heart so I was stuck in affection. I wasn’t principled toward others or upholding the church’s work. I was standing on Satan’s side, rebelling against and resisting God. My mom and brother were nonbelievers. Exposing their behavior was a righteous thing to do. It was protecting church work and following God’s requirements. It was loving what God loves, hating what God hates, and a testimony of practicing the truth. But I saw practicing the truth and exposing Satan as something negative, thinking that would be heartless, not having a conscience, treacherous. I was so confused. I was confusing right with wrong, good with bad. I was even constrained by emotion and feeling down, and didn’t feel like doing my duty. Without God’s timely enlightenment and guidance, my affections would have done me in. Living within emotion was nearly the end of me. That’s so dangerous!
I reflected later that there was another misconception in my reluctance to write about my mom. I felt like she’d always been so nurturing toward me, so any talk of exposing her really troubled my conscience. I read a passage of God’s words that changed my perspective on this. God’s words say, “God created this world and brought man, a living being unto which He bestowed life, into it. Next, man came to have parents and kin, and was no longer alone. Ever since man first laid eyes on this material world, he was destined to exist within the ordination of God. The breath of life from God supports each and every living being throughout growth into adulthood. During this process, no one feels that man is growing up under the care of God; rather, they believe that man is doing so under the loving care of his parents, and that it is his own life instinct that directs his growing up. This is because man knows not who bestowed his life, or from whence it came, much less the way in which the instinct of life creates miracles. He knows only that food is the basis on which his life continues, that perseverance is the source of his existence, and that the beliefs in his mind are the capital upon which his survival depends. Of God’s grace and provision, man is utterly oblivious, and thus does he fritter away the life bestowed upon him by God…. Not a single one of this humanity that God cares for day and night takes it upon themselves to worship Him. God only continues to work on man, for whom He holds out no expectations, as He has planned. He does so in the hope that one day, man will awaken from his dream and suddenly realize the value and meaning of life, the price God paid for all that He has given him, and the eager solicitude with which God waits for man to turn back to Him” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From the outside it looks like my mom gave birth to me and raised me and she’s been the one caring for me in life. But in fact, the source of human life is God and everything I’ve enjoyed has been given by God. I’m alive because of this very breath that God has given me. God gave me life and brought me into the world, and He arranged for my family and home. It was God’s arrangements that allowed me to hear His voice and come before Him. If I were reasonable, I should be thanking God, and I really should practice the truth to satisfy God when things happen, to repay God’s love. I shouldn’t stand on the side of worldly family and act for Satan, hindering the church’s work. Realizing this was a total wake-up call for me. I had to come before God to repent, and I couldn’t keep following my feelings. The church asked me to write about my mom, so I should write about her behavior accurately, according to the facts, and then accept however the church decided to handle it. So I accurately brought to light my mom’s behaviors that were disruptive to church life.
A month later, I was elected to be a church leader. I learned that some church members still didn’t see my mom clearly. I was thinking I should talk to them about how my mom had been disruptive to church life so they’d have discernment and be able to treat her according to the principles. But just as I was about to, I felt some internal conflict. If I exposed and dissected her and they gained discernment over her, would they see her differently? Would it upset her? I didn’t want to say anything. I realized I was living by emotion again and I remembered God’s words, that I should love what God loves and hate what He hates. My mom caused problems in church life, and that’s something God hates. I couldn’t keep shielding her out of affection. It was my responsibility to expose and dissect this based on principles of the truth so others could have discernment. So, I went into detail about how she’d disrupted church life and the others gained some discernment and learned some lessons. Most people ended up voting to move her to Group B. I felt really relaxed and at peace after putting this into practice.
I thank God from my heart for the guidance and enlightenment of His words that helped me understand the truth, find the principles and know how to treat my family members. Without that, I’d still be stuck in emotion and doing things against God. This experience has really shown me that for people and matters in God’s house, everything has to be done based on principles of the truth. That accords with God’s will. That’s also the way to gain a sense of inner peace. Thanks be to God!