The Consequences of Pursuing Comfort
By Lingshuang Spain
My duty in the church is creating special effects. During production, when I have rather difficult projects, the effect in each frame has to be tried and modified repeatedly, and there are many failures. When I noticed the projects of my brothers and sisters were relatively simple, and that they completed more projects, I thought, “My projects have high technical requirements, I have to spend time thinking, finding materials and studying, and the production cycle is long. If the projects were simpler, they wouldn’t be so much trouble. I would only need to master some simple methods and skills, and the production cycle would also be shorter, which would make the projects less troublesome.” After that, in my duties, I took stock of which projects were difficult and which were simple and then decided which to take. Once, I chose a simple project to do, and left the complicated ones to my brothers and sisters. When I saw how my brothers and sisters readily agreed, I felt a little uneasy: “Wasn’t I just shrinking back in the face of difficulties?” But then I thought, “Difficult projects take too much of my time and energy, and they consume too much mental effort, so it is best for me to choose simple projects.” Later, I felt there was room for improvement in one of my special effects projects, but I didn’t want to work too hard to change it, and I noticed my brothers and sisters didn’t see any problems, so I didn’t change it and passed it off. Sometimes, when I had problems, I only thought about it for a moment, and then I went to ask my brothers and sisters. I felt that this solved the problem quickly and didn’t tire me out, so it was an easy way to finish my tasks. But when I did this, I felt a sense of self-blame. Some questions were actually simple, and I could have solved them with a little effort, and asking my brothers and sisters interrupted their duties, but I didn’t reflect or try to understand myself. And so, this kind of trickery became the norm in how I performed my duties.
After that, I switched to video production duties. In addition to making videos, I had to lead my brothers and sisters in studying and raise everyone’s professional skills, so I had to work more than usual. I not only had to learn professional skills, I had to find material and prepare lessons based on what my brothers and sisters needed. It all felt like a difficult and tiring task. I thought, “My duty before was better. I didn’t have so many burdens and pressures. All I had to do was finish my own projects. Now, I have so much more work, and much more to worry about.” Thinking about it all gave me a headache. Later, I started thinking about how I could save time and not feel so tired, and I decided to send the special effects tutorials to my brothers and sisters. That way, the brothers and sisters could study them and I wouldn’t have to spend time finding material. The more I thought, the more I felt there couldn’t be a better method. After a while, my brothers and sisters said the tutorials didn’t solve their problems. At the time, I felt a bit sorry, so with no other choice, I found some materials to teach everyone in a simple manner, and I thought, “Well, I’ve arranged lessons for everyone, my job is done.” It didn’t take long before our team leader said, “Recently brothers and sisters have said technical problems are causing video production to be subpar and frequent rework, which is delaying progress.” When I heard that, I didn’t reflect or try to understand myself, and I felt this duty not only required suffering and paying a price, it required responsibility if things went wrong, so I didn’t want this duty even more. One day, my leader came to me and exposed me for muddling through and being cunning in my duties, and dealt with me, saying if things didn’t change, I would be dismissed. When I heard my leader say that, although I admitted I was muddling through my duties, I didn’t feel any repentance. When I thought of the difficulties and problems I would have to face in the future in my duties, I didn’t want to perform this duty anymore. I wanted to switch to an easier duty. The next day, I went to my leader and said, “I’m not capable of this duty. I’d like to switch to another duty.” She dealt with me after hearing that, saying, “You really can’t perform this duty? Did you actually try? You avoid hard work, you always muddle through and attempt cunning, and you have bad humanity. Given those behaviors, you really aren’t cut out for this duty.” When I heard my leader say this, it felt like my heart had suddenly been hollowed out. Back in the studio, I saw the other sisters busy with their duties, but I had been dismissed and lost my duties, and I was deeply saddened. I had never considered I might really lose my duty. At the time, I was even defending myself in my heart, “I didn’t want this duty, but I could have been given another duty. Why was my qualification to perform my duties canceled?” But then I thought, “God holds sovereignty over all things. My dismissal is the coming of God’s righteous disposition. I need to obey and reflect on myself.” In the days that followed, the scene of my leader dismissing me played over and over in my mind like a movie. When I thought of what the leader said, I felt miserable, especially my leader saying I had bad humanity. I didn’t know how to reflect or know myself, so in my pain, I prayed to God to ask Him to guide me in understanding myself.
Later, I saw a passage in God’s word, “Is it not something within a corrupt disposition to handle things so flippantly and irresponsibly? What thing? It is scumminess; in all matters, they say ‘that’s about right’ and ‘close enough’; it is an attitude of ‘maybe,’ ‘possibly,’ and ‘four-out-of-five’; they do things perfunctorily, are satisfied to do the minimum, and are satisfied to muddle along as they can; they see no point in taking things seriously or striving for precision, and they see less point in seeking principles. Is this not something within a corrupt disposition? Is it a manifestation of normal humanity? To call it arrogance is right, and to call it dissolute is also entirely apt—but to capture it perfectly, the only word that will do is ‘scummy.’ Such scumminess is present in the humanity of a majority of people; in all matters, they wish to do the least possible, to see what they can get away with, and there is a whiff of deceit in everything they do. They cheat others when they can, cut corners when they are able, and are loath to spend much time or thought considering a matter. They think to themselves, ‘So long as I avoid being revealed, and cause no problems, and am not called to account, then I can muddle through this. Doing a job well is more trouble than it is worth.’ Such people learn nothing to mastery, and they do not apply themselves in their studies. They want only to get the broad outline of a subject and then call themselves proficient at it, and then rely on this to muddle their way through. Is this not an attitude people have toward things? Is it a good attitude? This sort of attitude that such people adopt toward people, events, and things is, in a few words, ‘to muddle through,’ and such scumminess exists in all of corrupt mankind. People with scumminess in their humanity take the view of ‘muddling through’ on anything they do. Does this allow them to do anything properly? No. So are they able to get anything done? Even more unlikely.” “How can one tell the difference between noble and base people? Simply look at their attitude and manner in their treatment of people, events, and things—look at how they act, how they handle things, and how they behave when issues arise. People with character and dignity are meticulous, serious and diligent in their actions, and they are willing to make sacrifices. People without character and dignity are desultory and slipshod in their actions, always up to some trick, always wanting to just muddle through. They learn no skill to mastery, and, no matter how long they study, they remain confounded by ignorance in matters of skill or profession. If you do not press them for answers, all seems fine, but, as soon as you do, they panic—sweat drenches their brows, and they have no response. Those are people of low character” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists).pierced my heart, especially His words, “They cheat others when they can, cut corners when they are able,” “without character and dignity,” and “low character.” Every word revealed my attitude to my duties and my humanity. I realized this was exactly how I performed my duties. I muddled through all I did, and only did things to a passable standard. I considered my fleshly interests in everything, sought ways to avoid suffering, and never thought of how to perform my duties well. For fleshly comfort, and to avoid suffering and paying a price, I always chose to do the easier projects when I produced special effects. In the production process, even when I saw problems and room for improvement, as long as no one else saw them, I tolerated their presence. In my video production duty, I needed to learn professional skills and lead my brothers and sisters in learning them. I felt performing this duty was too much pressure and caused too much suffering, and it made me tired just thinking about it, so for the sake of my fleshly comfort, I tried tricks and cunning to make my brothers and sisters learn by themselves, which meant their skills never improved, made their duties less effective, and delayed the progress of work. Everywhere in my duties, I used tricks and deceit, I never gave thought to the work of God’s house or how to do my duties well. I had no humanity at all! I really was selfish, despicable, and had low character. As I reflected on these things, I felt a deep sense of regret and guilt.
After that, I read in God’s word, “On the surface, some people do not seem to have any serious problems throughout the time they perform their duty. They do nothing overtly evil; they do not cause disruptions or disturbances, or walk the path of the antichrists. In performing their duty, they do not have any major mistakes or problems of principle come up, yet, without realizing it, in a few short years they are exposed as not accepting the truth at all, as being one of the nonbelievers. Why is this so? Others cannot see an issue, but God scrutinizes these people’s innermost hearts, and He sees the problem. They have always been perfunctory and unrepentant about it. As time goes on, they are naturally exposed. What does it mean to remain unrepentant? It means that though they have performed their duty throughout, they have always had the wrong attitude, an attitude of carelessness and perfunctoriness, a casual attitude, and they are never conscientious, much less devoted. They may put in a little effort, but they are just going through the motions. They are not giving it their all, and their transgressions are without end. From God’s vantage, they have never repented; they have always been perfunctory, and there has never been any change in them—that is, they do not relinquish the evil in their hands and repent to Him. God does not see in them an attitude of repentance, and He does not see a reversal in their attitude. They are persistent in regarding their duty and God’s commission with such an attitude and such a method. Throughout, there is no change in this stubborn, intransigent disposition, and, what is more, they have never felt indebted to God, have never felt that their carelessness and perfunctoriness is a transgression, an evildoing. In their hearts, there is no indebtedness, no guilt, no self-reproach, and much less is there self-accusation. And, as much time passes, God sees that this person is beyond remedy. No matter what God says, and no matter how many sermons they hear or how much of the truth they understand, their heart is not moved and their attitude is not altered or turned around. God says: ‘There is no hope for this person. Nothing I say touches their heart, and nothing I say turns them around. There is no means of changing them. This person is unfit to perform their duty, and they are unfit to render service in My house.’ Why does God say this? It is because when they perform their duty and do work, no matter how much forbearance and patience extended to them, it has no effect and cannot make them change. It cannot make them do their duty well, it cannot allow them to embark on the path of truly pursuing the truth. This person is beyond remedy. When God determines that a person is beyond remedy, will He still keep a tight hold on this person? He will not. God will let them go” (“How to Solve the Problem of Being Careless and Perfunctory When Performing Your Duty” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “How you regard God’s commissions is a very serious matter! If you cannot complete what God has entrusted to you, then you are not fit to live in His presence and should be punished. It is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that humans should complete whatever commissions God entrusts to them; this is their supreme responsibility, and is just as important as their very lives. If you do not take God’s commissions seriously, then you are betraying Him in the most grievous way; in this, you are more lamentable than Judas, and should be cursed” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I read God’s word over and over. I realized that in the past, despite outwardly appearing to perform my duties, in my heart, I was betraying God. In my duties, I only considered my fleshly interests and avoiding suffering, and I muddled through with tricks and cunning. Even when I could do my work better, I didn’t, because I felt although it wasn’t done very well, it was at least done, and that was enough. I never took the problem of my own muddling through seriously, and I never reflected or tried to understand myself. Later, my leader revealed and warned me, which was God giving me a chance to repent, but I didn’t feel the slightest repentance, still considered my fleshly interests. When I thought of how my duty required hard work and paying a price, I didn’t want the duty anymore. Why was I so numb and stubborn? God gave me chance after chance to repent and change, which was God’s mercy for me, but I only considered my fleshly interests, didn’t seek the truth or reflect on myself, and continued to stubbornly oppose God. I was so rebellious! My duty was a commission and responsibility given to me by God, and I should have done my utmost to fulfill it. But not only had I failed to perform my duties well, I had muddled through to deceive God, and even rejected my duty. Wasn’t this a betrayal of God? God’s righteous disposition tolerates no offense, and God loathed all I had done. My dismissal showed God’s righteousness. When I realized this, I felt a little frightened. I also felt contrition for doing things heartbreaking to God. I could no longer muddle through like this. I had to repent and change.
After that, I spread the gospel with my brothers and sisters. Because I didn’t know the principles and wasn’t good at talking with people, the duty felt very difficult, and I didn’t want to work hard or pay the price again. But I thought of my previous attitude toward my duty, and I realized being able to preach the gospel was God’s great mercy for me. I shouldn’t run away when I faced trouble like before. Once I realized that, I felt a bit more positive.
Later, I also reflected on myself, and wondered why I wanted to shrink back when my duty felt troublesome. What nature was controlling me when that happened? After that, I watched a video reading of God’s word.says, “Today, you do not believe the words I say, and you pay no attention to them; when the day comes for this work to spread and you see the entirety of it, you will regret, and at that time you will be dumbfounded. There are blessings, yet you do not know to enjoy them, and there is the truth, yet you do not pursue it. Do you not bring contempt upon yourself? Today, although the next step of God’s work has yet to begin, there is nothing exceptional about the demands that are made of you and what you are asked to live out. There is so much work, and so many truths; are they not worthy of being known by you? Is God’s chastisement and judgment incapable of awakening your spirit? Is God’s chastisement and judgment incapable of making you hate yourself? Are you content to live under the influence of Satan, with peace and joy, and a little fleshly comfort? Are you not the lowliest of all people? None are more foolish than those who have beheld salvation but do not pursue to gain it; these are people who gorge themselves on the flesh and enjoy Satan. You hope that your faith in God will not entail any challenges or tribulations, or the slightest hardship. You always pursue those things that are worthless, and you attach no value to life, instead putting your own extravagant thoughts before the truth. You are so worthless! You live like a pig—what difference is there between you, and pigs and dogs? Are those who do not pursue the truth, and instead love the flesh, not all beasts? Are those dead ones without spirits not all walking corpses? How many words have been spoken among you? Has only a little work been done among you? How much have I provided among you? So why have you not gained it? What do you have to complain of? Is it not the case that you have gained nothing because you are too in love with the flesh? And is it not because your thoughts are too extravagant? Is it not because you are too stupid? If you are incapable of gaining these blessings, can you blame God for not saving you? What you pursue is to be able to gain peace after believing in God, for your children to be free from illness, for your husband to have a good job, for your son to find a good wife, for your daughter to find a decent husband, for your oxen and horses to plow the land well, for a year of good weather for your crops. This is what you seek. Your pursuit is only to live in comfort, for no accidents to befall your family, for the winds to pass you by, for your face to be untouched by grit, for your family’s crops to not be flooded, for you to be unaffected by any disaster, to live in God’s embrace, to live in a cozy nest. A coward such as you, who always pursues the flesh—do you have a heart, do you have a spirit? Are you not a beast? I give you the true way without asking for anything in return, yet you do not pursue. Are you one of those who believe in God? I bestow real human life upon you, yet you do not pursue. Are you no different from a pig or a dog? Pigs do not pursue the life of man, they do not pursue being cleansed, and they do not understand what life is. Each day, after eating their fill, they simply sleep. I have given you the true way, yet you have not gained it: You are empty-handed. Are you willing to continue in this life, the life of a pig? What is the significance of such people being alive? Your life is contemptible and ignoble, you live amid filth and licentiousness, and you do not pursue any goals; is your life not the most ignoble of all? Do you have the gall to look upon God? If you continue to experience in this way, will you not acquire nothing? The true way has been given to you, but whether or not you can ultimately gain it depends on your own personal pursuit” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in ). Every one of God’s questions pierced my heart, as if God was asking me face to face, and I felt I owed God too much. I thought of how the incarnate God expressed so much truth to water and supply us, so that we can gain the truth, cast off our corrupt dispositions, and have the chance to be saved. This is God’s greatest blessing for humankind. The truly wise will cherish the chance provided by God’s work, and use their time to pursue the truth, fulfill the duties of a created being, pursue a change in their life disposition during their duties, and finally understand the truth and be fully saved by God. But the blind and ignorant strive for fleshly enjoyment and get by, and they don’t work hard to pursue the truth. They go through the motions and make little effort in their duties, and no matter how long they believe, they never understand the truth, achieve no change in their life disposition, and are ultimately eliminated by God. I thought about myself. Wasn’t I precisely this kind of ignorant person? Satanic philosophies like “Live life on autopilot” and “Laziness has its blessings” were the principles I lived by. Each day I settled for the status quo, worked to get by, and sought fleshly comforts. I had believed in God for years without pursuing the truth or focusing on dispositional change and whether my duties were in line with God’s will. My fleshly enjoyment was more important to me than God’s will, so any time my duties required me to suffer or pay a price, I muddled through and resorted to tricks and deceit, causing my duties to achieve no results and delaying the work of God’s house. And even like that, I felt no remorse or guilt. My craving for comfort made me degenerate, indifferent to improvement, and thoughtless. Wasn’t I just wasting my life? How was I any different from a beast? I finally saw that these satanic toxins are fallacies Satan uses to corrupt people. They make people pursue comfort, not seek improvement, become degenerate, and ultimately die in ignorance. I only had myself to blame for losing my duty. I was too lazy, I was frivolous with my own character, and I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s trust, which disgusted my brothers and sisters and made God loathe me. In the past, I felt duties with high requirements and many tasks were equivalent to suffering. But this wasn’t suffering for my duties at all. Obviously, my nature was too lazy and selfish, and I was too concerned with the flesh. Although we have to suffer and pay a price when difficulties happen in our duties, these are all things we can bear, because God never gives us unbearable burdens. And God used these difficulties to show my corrupt dispositions and deficiencies, so that I could know myself, seek the truth to resolve problems, and change my life disposition. At the same time, God hoped I could learn to rely on Him in the face of these difficulties, and have sincere faith. In the past, I was ignorant, blind, and didn’t understand God’s will. I lost many opportunities to gain the truth and be perfected by God, and I allowed this wonderful time to pass me by in vain. Although I had fleshly comfort, and didn’t suffer or pay much of a price, I didn’t possess any truth and my corrupt dispositions weren’t resolved, I accrued no good deeds in my duties, I delayed the work of God’s house, and I disgusted God. If I continued to live in such a muddle-headed manner, I would completely lose God’s salvation in the end. At that time, I felt sick and disgusted with myself, and I didn’t want to live like an animal anymore.
One day, during my devotional, I read another passage of God’s word. “Today’s pursuit is entirely for the sake of laying the foundation for future work, so that you may be used by God and can bear witness to Him. If you make this the goal of your pursuit, you will be able to gain the presence of the Holy Spirit. The higher you set the goal of your pursuit, the more you can be perfected. The more you pursue the truth, the more the Holy Spirit works. The more energy you put into your pursuit, the more you will gain. The Holy Spirit perfects people according to their inner state. Some people say that they are not willing to be used by God or perfected by Him, that they just want their flesh to remain safe and not suffer any misfortune. Some people are unwilling to enter into the kingdom yet willing to descend into the bottomless pit. In that case, God will also grant your wish. Whatever you pursue, God will make it happen. So what are you pursuing at present? Is it being perfected? Are your present actions and behaviors for the sake of being perfected by God and being gained by Him? You must constantly measure yourself thus in your daily life. If you put all your heart into the pursuit of a single goal, God will assuredly perfect you. Such is the path of the Holy Spirit. The path on which the Holy Spirit guides people is attained by means of their pursuit. The more you thirst to be perfected and gained by God, the more the Holy Spirit will work within you. The more you fail to seek, and the more negative and retrogressive you are, the more you deprive the Holy Spirit of opportunities to work; as time goes on, the Holy Spirit will abandon you. Do you wish to be perfected by God? Do you wish to be gained by God? Do you wish to be used by God? You should pursue doing everything for the sake of being perfected, gained, and used by God, so that the universe and all things can see God’s actions manifested in you. You are the master among all things, and in the midst of all that there is, you will let God enjoy testimony and glory through you—this is proof that you are the most blessed of all generations!” (“People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and you should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) I understood from God’s word: To gain the truth in our duties, we need to betray the flesh and practice the truth, and then we’ll finally be perfected by God. This is the most meaningful and valuable way to live. If we abandon the truth for temporary fleshly comfort, then we will live without dignity, lose the work of the Holy Spirit, and finally be eliminated by God and lose our chance at salvation. I also learned that to resolve the problem of craving fleshly comfort, we need to have hearts that pursue the truth, often reflect on ourselves when things happen, focus our efforts on our duties, and when we encounter difficulties, be able to refuse the flesh, forsake ourselves, and protect the work of God’s house. This is how to receive the guidance and work of the Holy Spirit. Once I realized these things, my heart felt brightened, and I swore I would forsake the flesh and use all my efforts in my duties.
After that, I conscientiously considered how to preach the gospel well. When principles weren’t clear to me, I sought with my brothers and sisters, and I made time to study with everyone else. Later, as more things had to be done to preach the gospel, I didn’t feel like they were so troublesome anymore. Instead, I felt they were things I ought to do and my responsibility. Although I was very busy every day, I felt enriched.
Unexpectedly, one day, my leader came to me and asked me to return to my special effects duty. When I heard the news, I was very excited. Apart from being grateful to God, I didn’t know what to say. I recalled how I cared for the flesh, and muddled through my duties in the past, and I felt especially indebted to God. I couldn’t make up for my past mistakes, so I could only repay God’s love in my duties now. Later, when I faced difficulties in my duties, I consciously prayed to God and considered how to resolve them. Once, one of my special effects projects didn’t come out very well, and the team leader and person in charge didn’t know how to fix it. I was also trapped in difficulty and didn’t know how to start fixing it. I thought, “If I keep trying to fix it, spend my time, and work on this, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it right, so maybe someone else should do this.” I realized those thoughts were me trying to avoid difficulty again, so I quickly prayed to God. I recalled God’s words, “When a duty is before you, and it is entrusted to you, do not think of how to avoid difficulty; if something’s difficult, don’t first put it to one side and ignore it. You must face it head on. At all times must you remember that God is with you, that with God, nothing is hard. You must have this faith” (“How to Solve the Problem of Being Careless and Perfunctory When Performing Your Duty” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word gave me a path of practice. No matter what problems and difficulties we encounter in our duties, we should rely on God to seek ways to resolve them. We shouldn’t try to avoid difficulties or shrink from our duties due to fleshly suffering. That way is betrayal and disloyalty to God. Once I realized this, I promised myself that this time, I would rely on God, forsake the flesh, and put in the work to fix it. So I calmed down and revised it again and again, and finally made the necessary fixes. After watching it, everyone felt it was good and had no suggestions. After practicing like this, my heart was peaceful and at ease. I felt that paying a price in my duties was truly a blessing from God. Thank God!