Stick to the Principles to Do a Duty Well
By Xu Nuo, China
It happened in August 2019. Sister Lin, the leader of a church, wrote a resignation letter, and my leader arranged for me to go to this church to investigate. If Sister Lin really couldn’t do practical work, she would be dismissed and there would be a new election. After I arrived, the deacons there told me about Sister Lin’s situation. They said, “In the two months since Sister Lin was elected to lead the church, when anything involves her family interests or personal affairs, she puts aside church work and leaves everything for her partner to deal with. This leaves her partner with a heavy workload and makes it impossible to do things properly. Especially in urgent matters, she doesn’t handle things in time. Her partner is under very heavy pressure and feels a little negative. The upper leaders have offered help and support to Sister Lin many times, but she hasn’t managed to improve. Sister Lin also has no enlightenment in her fellowship on God’s word at meetings, so our brothers and sisters lack supply, and some of them are reluctant to come to meetings. Because Sister Lin can’t resolve the brothers’ and sisters’ practical problems, she fears seeing them and doesn’t want to come either. When the brothers and sisters have states or difficulties, she can’t fellowship on the truth to help, she only encourages with words of doctrine, or she uses her own methods and worldly philosophy to solve things. If they are in a negative state because of illness, she only tells them what doctors to visit and what health products to take, but she doesn’t guide them to go before God, seek God’s will, and learn lessons. Also, when some people talk about investments during meetings, Sister Lin not only lacks the discernment to expose and stop them, she actually takes part and invites her brothers and sisters to do so as well. Some brothers and sisters reminded her many times to focus on pursuing the truth and fulfilling her duties, but she feared her brothers and sisters would say she lusts for money, so she invested in secret and lost over 400,000, which distracted her even more from her duties.” Sister Lin was neglecting her duties and not doing practical work, so church life there was ineffective, and the brothers and sisters felt negative and weak.
After hearing their report of the situation, I thought, “Sister Lin doesn’t pursue the truth or do practical work, and her views on things are like an unbeliever. She can’t receive the Holy Spirit’s work like this. How can she lead a church like that? Even without her resignation letter, she would be dismissed as a false leader for her behavior.” So, I found the principle to discern whether someone has the Holy Spirit’s work and gave fellowship based on that and her behavior. When I finished, several of the deacons nodded with approval and said Sister Lin lacked the Holy Spirit’s work. But when I talked about dismissing Sister Lin from her duties, these deacons said, “Sister Lin has good humanity, she helps her brothers and sisters with whatever difficulties she can, and she is friendly and unpretentious.” They also said she had good caliber, was clever, could accept God’s word quickly, and no matter what kind of trouble her brothers and sisters had, she could comfort them. If she was dismissed, the church wouldn’t be able to find another suitable leader. One of the deacons also said, “Sister Lin might just temporarily be in a bad state. Let’s fellowship with her and try to help her first.” The other deacons all more or less agreed. In short, they didn’t approve of dismissing Sister Lin. If they don’t receive the Holy Spirit’s work and can’t do practical work for long periods, leaders and workers should be replaced. If they lack the Holy Spirit’s work and we keep them, aren’t we going against what God wants? These deacons only saw that Sister Lin could care for people’s flesh, and she was loving to a degree, and had some smarts and caliber, but they couldn’t see whether she was someone who pursued the truth, whether she could do practical work. They weren’t using the standards of God’s house to select people. Sister Lin was obviously someone who didn’t pursue the truth and held views just like those of unbelievers. She didn’t fellowship on the truth when things happened and she couldn’t resolve her brothers’ and sisters’ practical problems of life entry at all. She was revealed as a false leader. If she remained in her duties, she would only hinder and disrupt church work and get in the way of her brothers’ and sisters’ life entry.
After my fellowship, the deacons were all silent, but I could see they still didn’t agree with dismissing her. I thought, “If I insist on my viewpoint here and continue fellowshiping on the truth and discerning Sister Lin, will these deacons say I am too arrogant and arbitrary and don’t accept other people’s opinions?” I also worried that if I spoiled my relationship with these deacons after just arriving, the rest of my work would be harder. When I thought of this, I stopped fellowshiping with the deacons on the principles of discerning false leaders, and I reported the church’s situation to the leaders above me. I thought, “If my leader agrees with my point of view, then I will dismiss Sister Lin, and those deacons won’t have any bad opinions of me.” After that, I went to other sisters at that church to learn their views of Sister Lin, but I discovered that these sisters also lacked discernment of her. They all spoke highly of her, saying she was loving, understood their difficulties, and was clever and had caliber. Their view was the same as the deacons. When I saw this, I didn’t dare fellowship on the truth to discern Sister Lin. I feared they would say I was arrogant, self-important, and ignored others’ views, and would have a bad impression of me. So, I just waited for my leader’s letter with the answer. That way, I wasn’t burdened with the matter of Sister Lin’s dismissal. I clearly saw that these brothers and sisters lacked the truth and couldn’t discern, but I had no desire to fellowship with them. During those days, I felt spiritual darkness, and I couldn’t feel the presence of God. I realized that my state was wrong, so I went before God and prayed to ask for His enlightenment and guidance so that I could know my state. After a few days, my leader asked to meet with me. We read a passage of an article of—“The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice.” “In the house of God, you must grasp the principle of every duty you perform, no matter what it is. Being able to practice the truth means acting according to principle. If something is not clear to you, if you are not sure what the appropriate thing to do is, use fellowship to achieve consensus. Once it has been determined what is most beneficial to the church’s work and to the brothers and sisters, do that. Don’t be bound by rules, don’t delay, don’t wait, don’t be a passive observer. If you are always a passive observer—adding your opinion when someone makes a decision, and merely dragging your heels and waiting when they don’t—you will end up wrecking any work you do. For things that are clear to you, if everyone tells you this is the appropriate way to do it, that you should do it this way, and God guides you to do it this way, then this is how you should do it—don’t be afraid of taking responsibility, or of offending others, or of what the consequences might be. God sees, He watches, when people are cunning and dishonest. Anything you think, whenever you do not act according to the truth, when you lack commitment, when there is ever your own personal contamination, and you have your own thoughts and ideas, God watches and He knows, and the next time you do something, He will not be by your side. And why not? Because there are always things in your heart that separate you from God. What are these things? Your own thoughts, your own pride and interests, and your own small-mindedness. When there are things in people’s hearts that separate them from God, and they are constantly preoccupied with these things, this is trouble. If you are of poor caliber and scant experience, but are willing to pursue the truth, and are always of one heart with God, if you can give your all to what God entrusts of you, without getting up to petty tricks, then God will see this. If your heart is always walled off from God, if you always harbor petty schemes, always live for your own interests and pride, are always calculating these things in your heart, are possessed by them, then God will not be pleased with you, and you will make a mess of much that you do. That is because you are not easy to use. You lack commitment, you do not love the truth, you are always playing games with God, you are disingenuous in your handling of things for the house of God; yours is not an honest heart, you do not give your whole heart and soul, you just make some token effort, without putting your whole heart into it. This will not do. God watches people’s hearts: If you do not repent, you will not enter the life, nor will your life ever grow, and so you will not receive God’s approval” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I learned from God’s word that everything in the duties of God’s house should be based on the principles of truth. In matters we can’t see clearly, we can discuss, reach a consensus, and do whatever most benefits church work. In matters we see clearly, we need to practice the truth and act according to principles to be considerate of God’s will. But if we lack honest hearts, play tricks before God, and try to protect our personal interests, understand the truth but don’t practice it, and show no loyalty or consideration to God, then we will never receive the work of the Holy Spirit and never receive God’s blessing in our duties. I knew as I listened to the deacons report Sister Lin’s situation that she wasn’t someone who pursued the truth, didn’t do practical work at all, and was a false leader who needed to be replaced, but when I saw that the deacons wouldn’t agree, I was afraid they would say I was arrogant and self-important, so I didn’t dare uphold the principles of truth and didn’t want to fellowship with them about the truth regarding discerning false leaders. When I wrote a letter to report to my leader, outwardly I was serious about my duties, but actually I was hesitant to step forward, because I was afraid my brothers and sisters would view me negatively. In my duty, I only considered my own reputation and status, for which I tolerated a false leader disrupting church work and hindering my brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I saw that I really was selfish, despicable, and cunning. God inspects people’s hearts and minds, and my thoughts may deceive other people, but not God. During that time, my spirit was dark and I couldn’t feel God’s presence. This was actually God’s righteous chastisement for me!
Just at that moment, I heard about a church where an antichrist doing evil was discovered but no one reported or exposed. Even when this antichrist was expelled, the members covered up and shielded him. This offended God’s disposition, and everyone in the church was put in isolation to reflect. When I heard about that result, my heart trembled with fear. I asked myself over and over again why I couldn’t dismiss the false leader when I discovered it. Especially considering that God’s word says, “Once the truth has become life in you, when you observe someone who is blasphemous toward God, unfearful of God, and careless and perfunctory whilst performing their duty, or who interrupts and interferes with church work, you will respond according to the principles of the truth, and will be able to identify and expose them as necessary. If the truth has not become your life, and you still live within your satanic disposition, then when you encounter wicked people and devils who cause interruptions and disturbances to the work of God’s house, you will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear; you will brush them aside, without reproach from your conscience. You will even think that someone causing disturbances to the work of God’s house has nothing to do with you. No matter how great the loss to God’s work and the interests of His house, you will feel no reproach from your conscience, which means that you will be someone who lives by their satanic disposition. Satan controls you and causes you to live as something neither quite human nor quite demon. You eat what is God’s, drink what is God’s, and enjoy all that comes from Him, yet, when the work of God’s house suffers any loss, you think it has nothing to do with you, and, when you see it happen, you even ‘bend your elbow outward,’[a] and do not take God’s side, nor do you uphold God’s work or the interests of God’s house. This means Satan has power over you, does it not? Do such people live as human beings? Clearly, they are demons, not humans!” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Every line of God’s word pierced my heart, and I was terrified. It was as if God was enraged with me. I clearly saw a false leader in the church disrupting work, which hindered the life entry of my brothers and sisters, but to protect my relationship with the deacons and the brothers and sisters, I didn’t dare expose or handle the false leader and didn’t fellowship on the truth to help them discern. I had become a shield for the false leader, become Satan’s accomplice. What I was doing was evil. Just think, God came incarnate and expressed so much truth to water and supply us, and I received all I have from God, but when the work of God’s house was harmed, I chose to tolerate a false leader disturbing its work. I saw just how ungrateful I was in that moment. I lacked all conscience, reason, and didn’t have a shred of humanity. I was a disappointment to God.
After that, I recalled another passage of God’s word, “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in). From each line of God’s word, I understood His will. A false leader appeared in this church, and God hoped we would stand on His side, be considerate of His will, and protect the interests of God’s house. The church had arranged this duty for me, so that I could quickly dismiss false leaders if need be, use principles to choose the right person, and give my brothers and sisters a good church life. If I always considered and planned for my own benefit and couldn’t stand up to defend the interests of God’s house, I would certainly be rejected by God. I realized that Sister Lin didn’t pursue the truth and her views on things hadn’t changed, so how could she water her brothers and sisters? If someone like this was allowed to stay, they would only continue to disrupt the work of God’s house and hinder people’s life entry. Once I realized this, I no longer worried about being called arrogant and self-important for dismissing Sister Lin, because I knew clearly that doing so was upholding principles, practicing the truth, and protecting the work of God’s house, not arrogance and self-importance. Only those who act without a basis in God’s word or the truth, do whatever they please, and cling to their own notions and ideas are arrogant, self-important, and going against the truth.
So, after that, I used God’s word to fellowship with them on the consequences of not dismissing Sister Lin and fellowshiped on how leaders and workers should do practical work, what good humanity is, what good caliber is, and what a loving heart is. After my fellowship, my brothers and sisters could discern Sister Lin. They also saw that there are principles for transfers and dismissals in God’s house. God’s house doesn’t look at a person’s gifts or caliber, but looks at whether they can pursue the truth, practice the truth, and do practical work. Sister Lin was a false leader and had to be dismissed. Then I went to fellowship with Sister Lin, but I discovered she was essentially numb. She didn’t feel guilty or blame herself at all. I dismissed her during that conversation. Following that, I fellowshiped with the brothers and sisters regarding the principles of elections and we selected a new church leader.
After the election work finished, I thought of how the brothers and sisters reported some of Brother Xiao Lei’s behaviors. They said he never pursued the truth, he believed in God for years without changing his views, that he lusted for worldly things and money, he was only concerned with getting rich and living an extraordinary life. Each time he was given a duty, he was busy doing business to earn money, he was unhappy performing his duties, and on top of that, sold investments and money-making schemes to people in the church. His behavior was already causing disturbances and disruption in church life. I thought, “I’d better go fellowship with him and warn him.” On the day of the meeting, he deliberately didn’t come home and skipped the meeting. I had to wait until evening for him to return. I asked him, “How do you view the disruptions you’ve caused in church life? Have you reflected and tried to understand yourself?” He had no understanding and felt no regret at all for his actions, and he had many misunderstandings and complaints. He said he had believed in God for years and gained nothing. His son disobeyed him, his wife misunderstood him. … He placed the blame entirely on other people and didn’t say a word about his own problems. As I fellowshiped with him, I guided him to reflect and come to know himself, but he was very resistant. He also said, “What’s the use of practicing the truth?” I recalled that once, a sister had used God’s word to point out his nonbeliever behaviors, but he had no understanding or repentance at all. Xiao Lei never pursued the truth, and in many ways he behaved like a nonbeliever. According to principles, someone who doesn’t pursue the truth, doesn’t perform their duties, and disrupts church life needs to have solitary meetings arranged. They can’t be allowed to disrupt church life. Someone like Xiao Lei should have been given solitary meetings, otherwise they would influence and disturb people with small stature who lack discernment. So, I fellowshiped and offered discernment with the church leaders and deacons. Everyone agreed that Xiao Lei should have solitary meetings and be given time to reflect. But several days later, a sister sent me a letter saying that Xiao Lei wanted to practice the truth, but was controlled by corrupt dispositions and couldn’t, so he didn’t deserve to have solitary meetings. When I saw the letter, I was hesitant. If Xiao Lei wanted to repent and change, would me arranging for solitary meetings and letting him reflect make him even more negative? If Xiao Lei and the others learned it was my suggestion to do this, would they say I don’t give people time to repent? I had only recently arrived at this church but I was dismissing false leaders and handling nonbelievers. Would the brothers and sisters say I was trying to frighten them and being too merciless? I also considered that Xiao Lei was eloquent and knew how to win people over. When I went to fellowship with him and expose him, if he didn’t agree, opposed me, or lost his temper with me, what would I do? When I thought of these things, I found myself in difficulty again, so I went before God and prayed to ask Him to guide me in understanding His will so I could act by the principles of truth.
After that, I read a passage of God’s word: “The church is under construction, and Satan is trying its utmost to demolish it. It wants to demolish My construction by any means possible; for this reason, the church must be purified quickly. Not the slightest dregs of evil must remain; the church must be purified such that it becomes flawless and continues to be as pure as in the past. You must be awake and waiting at all times, and you must pray before Me more. You must recognize the various plots and cunning schemes of Satan, recognize the spirits, know people, and be able to discern all kinds of people, events, and things; you must also eat and drink more of My words and, more importantly, you must be able to eat and drink of them by yourselves. Equip yourselves with all of the truth, and come before Me so that I may open your spiritual eyes and allow you to see all the mysteries that lie within the spirit…. When the church enters its construction phase, the saints march to battle. Satan’s various hideous features are set before you: Do you stop and edge backward, or do you stand up and, relying upon Me, continue to move forward? Thoroughly expose Satan’s corrupt and ugly features, spare no feelings, and show no mercy! Fight Satan to the death! I am your backup, and you must have the spirit of the male child! Satan is lashing out in its final death throes, but it will still be unable to escape My judgment. Satan is beneath My feet and it is also being trodden under your own feet—this is a fact!” (“Chapter 17” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I learned from God’s word that as God works to save people, Satan also does its best to disrupt God’s work. God permits false leaders, antichrists, evildoers, and nonbelievers to appear in the church so that we can equip ourselves with truth, discern the people, matters, and things around us using the principles of truth, understand which things come from God and which from Satan, stand on God’s side, discern and reject all of Satan’s negative things, and no longer show mercy to Satan. I thought again about Xiao Lei, how he never pursued or practiced the truth, how he believed in God for years yet still held unbeliever views, and how when his brothers and sisters fellowshiped with him, he always had fallacies ready to refute them. In church life, he always talked about things unrelated to the truth, never played a positive role, and he didn’t have the slightest understanding or repentance for his actions. Where someone like Xiao Lei was concerned, if he wasn’t handled and put in solitary meetings immediately, he would hinder the life entry of his brothers and sisters even more and confound the brothers and sisters of small stature. I realized God’s house has this principle for handling nonbelievers, because nonbelievers and brothers and sisters who sincerely believe and love the truth are entirely different types of people. Separate meetings for those who don't play a positive role in the church are to limit their evil deeds, ensure they can’t disturb the church life, and allow others to better pursue the truth and be saved. My duty was as a leader, so I had to handle nonbelievers according to principles. If I shrank back and ignored my duty to protect my interests and not offend others, wasn’t I covering up for Satan and tolerating nonbelievers disturbing my brothers and sisters in the church? Later, I saw another passage of God’s word and learned about the root of why I couldn’t practice the truth or uphold principles. God’s words say: “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus causing the work of God’s house to suffer losses, and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? It is none of these; it is that you are being controlled by several kinds of corrupt dispositions. One of these dispositions is cunning. You think of yourself first, thinking, ‘If I speak up, how will it benefit me? If I speak up and displease someone, how will we get along in the future?’ This is a cunning mentality, right? Is this not the result of a cunning disposition? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? Why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. Even if I see it and hear it happen, I don’t need to do anything. It’s not my responsibility—I’m not a leader.’ Such things are inside you, as if they had sprung from your unconscious mind, and as if they occupy permanent positions in your heart—they are the corrupt, satanic dispositions of man. … You never say what you really think. It all has to be pre-edited by your brain, in your mind. Everything you say is a lie, at odds with the facts, it is all in your own spurious defense, to your own advantage. Some people are taken in, and it’s good enough for you: Your words and actions have achieved your objectives. This is what is in your heart, these are your dispositions. You are wholly controlled by your own satanic dispositions. You have no power over what you say and do. Even if you wanted to, you could not tell the truth or say what you really think; even if you wanted to, you could not practice the truth; even if you wanted to, you could not fulfill your responsibilities. Everything you say, do, and practice is a lie, and you’re just sloppy and perfunctory. Evidently, you are wholly shackled and controlled by your satanic disposition. You may want to accept and strive for the truth, but it’s not up to you: You are nothing but a puppet of corrupt flesh, you have become a tool of Satan, you say and do whatever your satanic disposition tells you to” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I thought back on my behavior. Each time I needed to practice the truth, I was only concerned with my own reputation and status. I was very selfish and cunning. Satanic philosophies like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and “Protect yourself, seek only to escape blame” had already taken root in my mind. I lived by these things, so I didn’t dare uphold the principles of truth. In the matter of dismissing Sister Lin, I was afraid my co-workers would say I was arrogant and self-important, so I didn’t dare uphold principles. I protected my own image at the cost of the work of God’s house, and couldn’t dismiss Sister Lin in time. On top of that, Xiao Lei’s behavior had already disrupted church life, so by principles, he needed to have isolated meetings to ensure the others had a proper church life and weren’t confounded or disturbed. This would be helpful both to Xiao Lei and the life entry of the others in the church. But again, I feared my brothers and sisters would say I didn’t give people a chance to repent or consider people’s weaknesses, which might affect my image and status in their minds, so I was willing to let church life be harmed and couldn’t uphold principles or practice truth. All that mattered to me was how to protect my own image and status, and I didn’t care how church work or the interests of God’s house were harmed. How could I call myself a sincere believer in God? Only then did I realize that I was poisoned deeply by satanic philosophies. I was selfish, deceitful, and had no human likeness at all. God likes people who dare to uphold the principles of truth and have a sense of justice, who have the courage to uphold all positive things and reject all negative things. These are God’s requirements for us. The matter of Xiao Lei was God testing me. He was checking whether I could protect the interests of God’s house. I thought, “I have to be someone with a sense of justice. Regardless of what others think of me, I have to uphold the principles of truth.” After that, through fellowship, the others learned to discern Xiao Lei’s nonbeliever behavior, and 80% of the brothers and sisters agreed to arrange for solitary meetings and observation for Xiao Lei. Next, I went to fellowship with Xiao Lei and used his consistent behavior to expose his problems. But even before I could finish, he started to defend himself and refute me, saying that the brothers and sisters invested willingly, that it had nothing to do with him. … When he behaved like this, it proved he was a nonbeliever. So, I arranged for him to have solitary meetings and be observed for a period of time, and if he still showed no knowledge or repentance, he would be cleared out of the church. After practicing according to the principles of truth, I felt an indescribable sense of peace and joy in my heart.
After that experience, I started to understand my corrupt dispositions, I could let go of my interests and practice the truth, and I could live out a little human likeness. All of this was God’s salvation. I also see that God’s house is different from the world. The truth rules in God’s house. When we practice the truth and act with principle, we gain God’s blessing and guidance. Thank God!
a. “Bend one’s elbow outward” is a Chinese idiom, which means a person is helping others at the expense of people close to that person, for example parents, children, relatives or siblings.