What’s Behind Not Taking a Stand
By Mu Xi, South Korea
Some time ago, I was very inefficient in my duty. Every time I did a video project, I always modified it many times, which seriously affected the overall progress of work. At first, I thought it was due to my lack of my own opinions, because every time my brothers and sisters suggested some revisions, I didn’t evaluate whether they were needed based on principles and simply made whatever changes they suggested. Some suggestions were not very reasonable, which resulted in constant rework. Later, after being pruned and dealt with, applying what God’s word reveals, and reflecting on myself, I realized there were satanic dispositions and despicable intentions behind my lack of assertiveness.
That was several months ago. Then, there were some brothers and sisters who always arrogantly held to their own views and couldn’t accept the suggestions of others, which seriously affected the progress of work. Our leader fellowshiped to expose them several times, but they didn’t change and were dismissed. I thought, “If others give me advice in the future, I can’t hold to my own views.” So, each time I finished a video project, when everyone gave advice, I almost always accepted it, even though they were small and optional issues that didn’t need to be changed. I actually thought some changes weren’t in line with principles, and that some were just trivial revisions, but I worried that if I didn’t accept, my supervisor, brothers, and sisters would think badly of me. Would they think I was arrogant and couldn’t take other people’s advice? If I gave people a bad impression, that I couldn’t accept the truth, then would my dismissal be imminent? Besides, I wasn’t 100% sure about my opinions. If I was wrong and didn’t make a needed change, if the problem was found after the video went online, I would bear responsibility. After thinking about it, to be on the safe side, I made all the suggested revisions. Sometimes I heard different suggestions, so I made multiple versions and asked my supervisor to decide which was best, or while discussing work, I discussed it with my brothers and sisters and we finalized the decision together. I thought, “My supervisor and the majority of brothers and sisters made this decision. This is the majority opinion, so there shouldn’t be any big problems. This is the most secure way. If something goes wrong in the future, it’s not my responsibility alone.” Sometimes, I received a lot of suggestions, and I wasn’t sure how to revise it, so I called the supervisor and asked her to help me decide which direction to go. Sometimes I heard too much advice, and in the end, I didn’t know what to do, which meant I was very inefficient. In work discussions, my constant requests for my brothers and sisters to help me decide between various suggestions took time away from them in their duties and slowed the progress of work.
Once, I made a video background image. It needed to reflect the suffering of people living in sin, so I made the image with a dark tone with backlighting. Some brothers and sisters thought it was too dark and unattractive, and suggested I brighten the picture a bit and add some light and shadow effects. I was hesitant about these suggestions. Given the theme, having the image too bright didn’t conform to the atmosphere of people living in darkness, and adding brightness would violate objective laws, so I didn’t think the suggestion was reasonable. But then I thought that since several people had made this suggestion, if I didn’t do it, and it affected the video after it went online, it would be my responsibility. As I was struggling, I saw that the leader also agreed with the revision, so I started to compromise. If I put forward my view, and disagreed with the revision, would everyone think I was insisting on my own views? Would they think I was making excuses not to change it because it was troublesome? So I decided to just modify it. If there was a problem, it wouldn’t be my responsibility alone, because I made the change based on everyone’s suggestions. I clearly felt this change was inappropriate, but still spent much time to modify the image. I was shocked when, once I finished, the supervisor evaluated it based on the relevant principles and effect, said it wasn’t realistic, and said I had to change it back. She also said I had been passive in my duties recently, that I had no opinions about others’ suggestions, and that I was hindering the progress of work, and she asked me to reflect on myself. After that, I couldn’t calm myself for a long time, and I felt very guilty. I had spent so much time modifying the image, and now I had to change it back, which indeed delayed the progress of work. I realized that during this period, every time I faced different suggestions, I actually had my own opinions, but to prevent people calling me arrogant, I didn’t speak up about my opinions. When I faced uncertainty, I didn’t seek the principles of truth, I just waited for others to decide for me and did things according to other people’s orders. Performing my duty this way really was too passive, and it delayed the work of God’s house. I came before God and prayed to ask Him to guide me in reflecting on myself.
Later, I saw a video reading of God’s word. “Those who can perform a duty in God’s house must be people whose burden is the work of the church, who take responsibility, who uphold the principles of the truth, who suffer and pay the price. To be lacking in these areas is to be unfit to perform a duty and not to possess the conditions for the performance of duty. There are many people who are afraid of taking on responsibility in performing a duty. Their fear manifests in three main ways. The first is that they choose duties that do not require taking on responsibility. If a church leader arranges for them to perform a duty, they first ask whether they must take on responsibility for it: If so, they do not accept it; if it does not require them to be responsible for it, they accept it reluctantly, but still must see whether the work is tiring or bothersome, and despite their reluctant acceptance of the duty, they are unmotivated to perform it well, preferring still to be careless and perfunctory. Leisure, not labor, and no bodily hardship—this is their principle. The second is that when a difficulty befalls them or they encounter a problem, their first resort is to report it to a leader and have him handle and resolve it, in hope that they may keep their ease. They do not care how the leader handles the issue and pay this no mind—so long as they are not responsible themselves, then all is well to them. Is such performance of duty loyal to God? This is called passing the buck, dereliction of duty, goofing off. It is mere exertion, without any heart behind it. They say, ‘If this thing is mine to handle, what if I end up making a mistake? Won’t it then be I who gets handled? Won’t the responsibility for it fall first to me?’ This is what they worry about. But do you believe that God can look into these things? Everyone makes mistakes. If a person whose intention is correct lacks experience and has not handled some sort of matter before, but they have done their best, that is visible to God. You must believe that God scrutinizes all things and the heart of man. If one does not even believe this, are they not a nonbeliever? What significance could there be in such a person performing a duty? There is one more way in which a person’s fear of taking on responsibility manifests: They do just a bit of superficial, simple work, work that does not entail taking on responsibility. Work that entails difficulties and taking on responsibility, they dump onto others, and should something go wrong, they shift the blame onto those people and keep their own noses clean. … And what will the consequence be if the leaders and workers still ask them to perform a duty? They will bring the work of the church to ruin. Such people are not trustworthy or dependable; they only perform their duty to get food in their mouths. Should beggars like this be cast out? They should. The house of God would never want such people” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s word revealed my state. I thought back on my performance of my duties during this period. When I received so much advice, I realized some of it wasn’t appropriate. Some revisions were against principles, and some were unnecessary. But I feared not listening to everyone’s advice, because if something went wrong, I would have to bear the blame alone. I also feared that sticking to my point of view would give people the bad impression that I was arrogant and couldn’t accept the truth, so I catered to everyone’s tastes and opinions, made whatever changes others suggested, and I even revised it repeatedly and made multiple versions, and waited for the supervisor and my brothers and sisters to decide. I never sought the principles of truth or made my own decisions for fear of taking the blame. I thought doing things this way was safer, because once things were a group decision, problems were less likely, and even if there was a problem, I wouldn’t be alone. Outwardly, I was always busy with my duties, and I was protecting the work of God’s house, but actually, I considered my own interests in everything. I was considering how to protect myself and avoid responsibility. Wasn’t I just playing tricks like this? Doing my duty this way was only outwardly offering up my labor and doing what I was told. I never worried or concerned myself with things. I was irresponsible in my duty and didn’t consider the interests of God’s house at all. I truly lacked all humanity. Those who sincerely perform their duties consider the interests of God’s house in all things, and when faced with problems they can’t understand, they seek God’s will, seek the principles of truth, and are of one heart with God in their duties. But me? I was absolutely insincere and mindless in my duty. I was like hired help, just waiting to be ordered to do something. I didn’t seek to resolve problems with the principles of truth at all. Performing my duty like this, I had nothing to do with God or the truth. I was only going through the motions, not even on part with a service-doer.
I recalled another passage of God’s word, “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not you, in your thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of the truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then without doubt, you are an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations to God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What does ‘for your own sake’ really mean? It means for Satan’s sake. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. It will not only fail to gain God’s approval—it will be condemned. What does one with such a belief in God seek to gain? Would such belief not come to naught in the end?” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days).made me understand. He observes everyone’s hearts. He doesn’t look at how much work we do or suffering we endure. He instead looks at whether people’s intentions in their duties are for God or themselves and whether they have testimony of practicing the truth in their duties. If you always try to satisfy yourself in your duty, this is wickedness in God’s eyes, and God detests it. Through God’s word, I saw that my thoughts as I performed my duty were for myself. To avoid taking responsibility, no matter how much time it took to fix those irrelevant issues, I revised the image over and over. I went against my own will to make inappropriate revisions, causing the videos to get worse and worse. I delayed the work of God’s house, but I never felt concerned or a sense of urgency, nor did I try to become more efficient by seeking the principles of truth. All I was doing in my duty was going through the motions, and I thought as long as I finished the revision and everyone approved, it was fine. My irresponsible behavior wasn’t performing my duty at all, and it was not accruing good deeds, it was wickedness. Now is the critical time for God’s house to spread the gospel, and these videos urgently need to be put online to spread it, so that more people who yearn for God’s appearance can be enlightened after watching them, to look into God’s work in the last days. But because of my corrupt disposition, I repeated work and delayed the uploads. To protect my own interests, I repeatedly hindered the work of God’s house, I was only acting as Satan’s servant and disrupting the work of God’s house! Once I realized this, I felt terrified. I quickly prayed to God to ask for His guidance in changing my attitude toward my duty and resolving my corrupt dispositions.
After that, when I encountered different suggestions in my duty, I first came before God to pray and seek, analyzed which suggested changes were necessary and which weren’t, and considered how to improve my efficiency to create better results. For suggested changes that weren’t necessary, I presented my opinions on the basis of principles I understood, sought and fellowshiped with everyone, and some of my opinions were accepted. Practicing like this made me a bit more efficient in my duty. I thought I had some change, but when it was again time to take responsibility, I started to become passive again.
Once, I made a video vignette, and everyone had different opinions on some details about the image. After we discussed and communicated, we still hadn’t decided how to modify it, and we were stuck for quite a long time. Actually, I knew that for a vignette, as long as it looks good, and the proportions of the characters and image don’t violate objective reality, there is no need to get stuck on details. But after hearing so many different suggestions, I didn’t know what to do. If I changed things based on my own ideas, what would happen if there was a problem after the video was uploaded? Then it would be my responsibility. I was afraid to be responsible for making a mistake, so I started making multiple versions based on everyone’s suggestions and waited for everyone to give me a final decision, but in the end, no one gave me a clear answer. As I watched the days pass, I became very anxious. Wasn’t I delaying the progress of the video again? I was very troubled, so I asked myself, “Why is it so difficult to make a decision? Why does it feel like my hands are bound and I can’t untie them?” I came before God to pray and seek, and asked God to guide me in reflecting and knowing myself.
Later, I read a passage of God’s word. “When problems occur as you perform your duty, you are liable to ignore them, and may even look for various pretexts and excuses to avoid responsibility; there are some problems that you are capable of solving, but don’t, and the problems you are incapable of solving you do not report to your superiors, either—it’s as if they have nothing to do with you. Is this not a dereliction of your duty? Is treating the work of the church thus a clever thing to do, or a stupid thing to do? (Stupid.) Are such leaders and workers not snakes, are they not devoid of any sense of responsibility? Someone who ignores the problem in front of them: Is this not someone heartless, someone sneaky? People who are sneaky are people who are the most stupid. You must be someone honest, and must have a sense of responsibility toward the problems you face; if you are sneaky, then when faced with problems you will ignore them, and try to avoid responsibility. If you are sneaky among the unbelievers and something happens to you, you will not be able to stand firm; if you are sneaky in the house of God, how could God not despise you? Could the house of God let this pass? God likes honest people; He does not like sneaky people. There is nothing to fear in being a bit ignorant, but one must certainly be honest. Honest people take responsibility; they think not of themselves; they are pure of thought; and there is honesty and benevolence in their hearts, like bowls of clear water whose bottoms are visible at a glance. Though you are always posturing, screening and covering yourself, wrapping yourself up so tightly that others cannot see what is in your heart, God can yet scrutinize the things that are deepest in your heart. Should God see that you are not an honest person, but a sly thing, never giving over your heart to Him, always trying to play games with Him, He will not like you and will not want you. All who prosper among the unbelievers—people who are silver-tongued and quick-witted—what kind of people are these? Is this clear to you? What is their essence? It can be said that they are all extremely slippery and crafty individuals, they are all extraordinarily shrewd, they are cunning, they are the genuine devil Satan. Could God like such people? (No.) God hates demons most of all—whatever you do, you must not be this kind of person. They who are ever vigilant and consider all the angles in their speech, who see which way the wind blows and are guileful in handling their affairs—I tell you, God loathes such people the most. So, would God still begrace or enlighten such a person? No—He would not. God sees such people as those of an ilk with animals. They wear human skin, but their essence is that of the devil Satan. They are walking corpses whom God absolutely will not save. Would you say this sort of person is indeed smart, or are they foolish? They are the most foolish of people. They are sneaky. God does not want this sort of person. He condemns them. What hope is there in believing in God for such a person? Their belief is bereft of significance, and they are destined to gain nothing. If, throughout their faith in God, people do not pursue the truth, then it doesn’t matter how many years they have been a believer; in the end, they will gain nothing” (Identifying False Leaders (8)). God’s word revealed my state. I was always indecisive when confronted with different suggestions, afraid to take responsibility for mistakes, and always tried to protect myself, because I was controlled by satanic poisons like “Every man for himself,” “Protect yourself, seek only to escape blame,” and “The law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender.” When faced with different suggestions, I had my own opinions, but I didn’t put them forward and seek in time and stubbornly insisted on following the advice of others so that problems wouldn’t be my responsibility and I wouldn’t be dealt with. Outwardly, I appeared receptive to other people’s advice, and that I could take and implement suggestions, which presented the illusion that I could accept the truth. Actually, behind this were my own sinister, deceitful, and despicable intentions. I thought back on how I had behaved, and how each time I might be responsible for something, I looked out for myself. Sometimes, when others had problems and asked for my advice, I would first guess other people’s thoughts and opinions, and if these agreed with mine, I used them as a basis and added my own advice, but if their opinions were different, I didn’t want to share my own, because I feared if I was wrong and problems arose, I would have to take responsibility, so I just said something vague and perfunctory. I saw that living by these satanic philosophies, I had become especially cunning and deceitful, I could never clearly put forward my own point of view, I had no principles or position, and I spoke and acted in ways that confused people and made my own views inscrutable. I even thought it was smarter to do this, so I wouldn’t have to bear any consequences, I wouldn’t be dealt with, and I wouldn’t be dismissed. I had no idea that I was playing tricks on God and on my brothers and sisters, that I was a most cunning person. I was making God loathe and detest me, and God doesn’t save people like me. Even though I could deceive my brothers and sisters, God observes my hearts. If I continued to deceive God like this, be irresponsible in my duty, just going through the motions, and refused to focus on seeking principles of truth, in the end, I would never gain the truth, and I would certainly be condemned and eliminated. I saw that I was too smart for my own good. I was so ignorant! Only once I realized this did I start to feel afraid. I really wanted to repent to God. I couldn’t go on like this.
Later, I read a passage of God’s word, “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 an observer, and never have your own opinion, if you always wait for someone else to make the decision before doing anything and, when no one has made a decision, just drag your heels and wait, then what is the consequence? You make a mess of every job, you accomplish nothing. If it is something that is clear to you, and everyone says this is ok, and agrees to do it like this, and says that this work ought to be done, and there is no doubt that this is guided by God, then this is how you should do it. Do not be afraid of taking responsibility for this, or of offending others, or of what the consequences might be. If people don’t do anything real, and are always calculating, and afraid of taking responsibility, and don’t do real work, then it shows they have too many fiendish schemes. How iniquitous it is to wish to enjoy God’s grace and blessings and yet do nothing real. There is no one God despises more than such crafty and conniving people. Regardless of what you are thinking, you are not practicing the truth, you have no loyalty, and your own personal considerations are always involved, and you always have your own thoughts and ideas. God is watching, God knows, and if you do not immediately repent, He shall leave you” (“The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “What are the expressions of an honest person? First is to have no doubts about God’s words. This is one of the expressions of an honest person. The most important expression of an honest person, furthermore, is to seek and practice the truth in all matters; this is most critical of all. If you say you are honest, but you always put God’s words to the back of your mind and do whatever you want, then is this an expression of an honest person? You say, ‘My caliber is low, but I am honest at heart.’ When a duty falls to you, however, you are afraid of suffering or that if you do not fulfill it well, you will have to bear the responsibility, so you make excuses to shirk it and recommend others to do it. Is this an expression of an honest person? It clearly is not. How, then, should an honest person behave? They should accept and obey, and then be utterly devoted in doing their duties to the best of their ability, striving to meet God’s will. This is expressed in several ways. One way is that you should accept your duty with honesty, not think about your fleshly interests, and not be half-hearted about it. Do not plot for your own benefit. This is an expression of honesty. Another way is performing your duty with all your heart and all your strength, doing things properly, putting your heart and your love into performing your duty in order to satisfy God. This is what should be expressed when honest people perform their duty” (“People Can Only Truly Be Happy by Being Honest” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s word, I saw that God loves honest people. It doesn’t matter even if you are ignorant and have low caliber. The key is to have a correct and honest heart, not keep things to yourself, speak openly about what you think, seek and fellowship with others about what you don’t understand, act in accordance with principles, and do what benefits the work of God’s house, and be loyal in your duties. Do this, and God is satisfied. God observes people’s hearts. If we try our best, even if we sometimes make mistakes due to low caliber or not understanding the truth, there are still lessons to be learned. As long as we can accept the truth, seek the truth, and sum up problems in time, we will deviate less and less as time goes on, and gradually master the principles and perform our duties well. God’s house does not condemn people and hold them accountable for one single fault. Once I understood this, I felt much more relieved.
Later, I opened up and fellowshiped with a sister about my state during this period, and she helped me very patiently. Through seeking and fellowship together, I changed a mistaken view I had always held. Previously, I always worried that if I didn’t take others’ advice and offered differing views and opinions, others would think I was arrogant and didn’t accept the truth. Actually, I couldn’t discern between arrogance and upholding principles. Upholding principles means, by seeking the truth, determining practices that accord with principles and protect the church’s interests, and continuing to uphold them and not compromise when others object or raise issues. Although outwardly it looks somewhat similar to arrogance, that’s upholding the truth and is a positive thing, while arrogance is always feeling superior to others, believing one’s own opinions and ideas to be correct; when others put forward different points of view, there is an obstinance on one’s own way without seeking or contemplation, and an insistence on claiming that what is wrong is right. All of these opinions come from their own judgment, and have no basis in principle. Yet still, they demand others listen to them and do as they say. This is a satanic disposition, a manifestation of arrogance. I recalled several brothers and sisters who were dismissed before. Some of them insisted on having things their way, didn’t take the suggestions of their brothers and sisters seriously or contemplate them, always argued their own case, and were unwilling to revise and improve. What they insisted on was never in line with principles, it was just their personal thoughts and preferences. This is the manifestation of arrogance. When presented with differing opinions, I felt that some suggestions were inappropriate, but if I could evaluate them according to principles and raise my own views, this would not be arrogance, it would be upholding the principles of truth. Sometimes, when I don’t fully understand problems or can’t grasp things, if I can express my opinions, seek, and fellowship with others, this would not be arrogantly insisting on my way, it would be figuring out the principles before I act, and being serious and responsible in my duty. Once I understood these truths, I felt a great sense of relief.
Later, when I received too many suggestions in my duty, I prayed to God for calm and sought the relevant principles of truth, and evaluated whether the revisions were necessary based on principles. I also took the initiative to use my own ideas to communicate and discuss with everyone. Once, I finished a video background image, my leader said that the color wasn’t suitable and recommended that I change it. I thought, “If I make these changes, it will be a lot of work, and it will definitely delay the upload of the video. This isn’t really a matter of principle, it’s just a personal preference, so there’s no need to change it. But if I don’t, will my leader feel I am arrogant and unable to accept other people’s suggestions?” When I started to hesitate again, I came to God and prayed to ask God to guide me in practicing according to principles. After I prayed, I found some reference materials, and then worked with my leader and supervisor to seek the relevant principles. I also exchanged my own understanding and views. Afterwards, the leader and supervisor agreed with my point of view, and the video soon went online. I felt especially happy and secure.
Thinking back on my experience during this time, I realized that to protect myself and avoid responsibility, I tied my own hands in my duty with all kinds of worries. Living that way was tiring, and I wasn’t very effective. But when I understood God’s will and practiced according to the principles of truth, problems were easy to solve, and my duty felt much easier and more relaxed. After this experience, I truly felt that living by satanic philosophies only makes people ever more cunning and deceitful, unworthy of people’s trust, and displeasing to God. Only by practicing the truth and fulfilling your duty by the principles of truth will you be blessed. When you do this, you find surety and security, and feel genuine peace and joy.