The Harm Done by Jealousy
By Yi Ning, China
I was elected as a church leader not too long ago, taking charge of a few churches’ work. Before long I started to see some results, and lots of church members expressed their support for me. I was really happy and felt proud of myself, like I could do real work. I was thinking that if the upper leadership could see what I’d accomplished, they might think I was a pretty good leader, that they’d made the right choice. After a few months, the church arranged for Sister Zhao to work with me. I thought she’d be needing my help, but I was surprised to see she got the hang of it really fast. She had some good practical suggestions in our discussions, and I felt both admiration and envy. I was thinking that she had great caliber and real work skills, that she was already so capable with fellowshiping to resolve problems. Would everyone think I didn’t match up to her? Wouldn’t that make me look inadequate? Then how could I face our brothers and sisters? The next day, I took Sister Zhao to a group gathering where some people brought up work-related questions. I shared my own opinion, but her response was more complete and detailed, plus she found relevant principles for fellowship. I was surprised. She saw these things the first time she joined us and she had a pretty comprehensive response. I was afraid of how that would make me look, if others would think that I’d been in that duty longer, but wasn’t a match for my new partner, that I hadn’t had any progress. The more I thought about it the more my face was burning, and I didn’t even want to lift my head. I just wanted to end the gathering.
A few days later, Sister Zhao said Sister Lin, a team leader, was lacking caliber and couldn’t do real work, that she should be dismissed. I’d actually seen those problems in her before, but I was thinking she was kind of new to the duty, so I wanted to wait and see. I could see that since Sister Zhao felt the same way, she really should be dismissed. But while discussing it with Sister Zhao, it occurred to me that if I dismissed Sister Lin right then and the leader found out, she might think it was Sister Zhao who had insight, who was quick to make necessary changes. Then it’d look like her achievement. The leader might think I couldn’t do real work, that I wouldn’t change people’s duties when necessary. At that thought, I wasn’t in a hurry to dismiss Sister Lin and I dragged my feet on it for a few days. And one time, Sister Zhao proposed a plan for improving our efficiency, but after a trial run, I got feedback from brothers and sisters that it wasn’t going too well. I was thrilled. I was thinking that since they’d been trying out her work plan, wasting time and accomplishing nothing, they’d definitely stop looking up to her. The next time I saw Sister Zhao, I made all sorts of veiled references to her plan failing, how much time we’d wasted without any results. Really upset, she just bowed her head. I actually felt pleased to see her that way, and thought I’d finally regained my dignity. But I was surprised to see that Sister Zhao wasn’t really affected by this. She saw her faults that led to that failure, and then improved her efficiency and working results. I was not happy at all to see her rapid progress. I was thinking that she’d just started and wasn’t familiar with some of our work, so she needed my help. What use would I be before long, after she learned more? I even suspected the leader had already arranged for her to replace me. I got more and more depressed and started to think I was lacking caliber and skills, and I even blamed God for not bestowing me with such great gifts.
For a while I was really losing motivation for my duty and was feeling sleepy in gatherings. I’d developed a bias against Sister Zhao, feeling like she was stealing my limelight. Before she came along, others wanted to listen to my fellowship, but ever since then, it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. If I kept working with her, I thought I’d never get my chance to shine. I was so jealous of her that I couldn’t even stand the sight of her, and when I found about her personal problems or something she hadn’t done well, I was eager to make her look bad in front of the other sisters. When I saw Sister Zhao bow her head and quietly admit her faults in the face of my criticism, I did feel kind of guilty. I was trying to exploit a weak point. But I also felt like I was telling the truth. After a while of me going on and on about Sister Zhao’s faults, the other sisters also became biased against her. She seemed isolated and was falling into a worse and worse state. But I still didn’t self-reflect. Instead, I got even worse, more and more intense.
Then about a month later, some brothers and sisters were arrested by the Communist Party. There were safety concerns about where books ofwere kept, so they had to be moved. The leader asked Sister Zhao to take charge of that. I was thinking that I’d been in that duty longer than her, so I was more familiar with everything. I should be the one to take charge. Did the leader think I didn’t match up to Sister Zhao? I was feeling more and more jealous and resistant to it, and I even had this toxic thought that I wouldn’t take any responsibility of it. Sister Zhao didn’t know the situation, so I’d see how she’d manage on her own. I stopped paying any mind to Sister Zhao’s work, and when she asked me for directions to go see other church members, I’d just ignore her or respond with a few words. She saw I seemed fed up, so stopped asking me questions. I felt guilty after that, like I wasn’t upholding the work of God’s house. I told myself I couldn’t act that way again, but I just couldn’t help myself the next time a problem cropped up. I did it over and over again, and couldn’t ever rein myself in. Living in that state was really painful for me, but I didn’t know how to get out of it. I’d been living in a state of jealousy. I knew Sister Zhao wasn’t familiar with our church members or the local area, but I wasn’t trying to help her. That meant our work to move the books was held up for weeks and that also impacted the church’s work. But I never really reflected on myself over that.
I’d been jealous of her and wanted to compete with her, which affected the work of God’s house. God’s wrath had come upon me. One evening, when Sister Zhao and I joined a group meeting to take care of some work, I noticed her fellowship was really detailed, and she put a lot of thought into things I hadn’t thought of—everyone was really appreciative. I felt kind of jealous and irritated. I was wondering why she had to go into so much detail, making herself look like she’d thought of everything, and making me look worse. I got more and more annoyed and didn’t want to hear another word out of her. I cut her off, saying, “Ready yet? I’ve got other places to go.” She reluctantly agreed, but I just stormed out without even waiting for her. But my e-bike stopped working right after I’d gotten on the road and I just crashed. I was stuck under my e-bike and couldn’t get up, but luckily someone passing by helped me up. But after getting home, I realized I couldn’t move my right hand, that I’d injured myself. I knew this was God’s discipline for me, but I was so numb that I didn’t seriously reflect on myself. I was so rigid, so rebellious. Some time passed and my hand hadn’t gotten any better, plus the police were trailing me. They showed up at my doorstep to arrest me and I got away thanks to God’s protection, but I had to stop doing my duty. I knew God’s will was within these things that were happening. I wasn’t working peacefully with Sister Zhao and I hadn’t genuinely thought about it or changed. So God’s righteousness came upon me. But I was feeling so negative, I felt like I was being utterly exposed and didn’t know how to get through it. In my pain, I said a prayer, asking God to enlighten and guide me so I could truly reflect on myself.
One day, I read this in God’s words: “Today, it is because you are chastised, judged, and cursed that you are given protection. It is because you have suffered much that you are protected. If not, you would have long since fallen into depravity. This is not making things difficult for you intentionally—man’s nature is hard to change, and it must be thus for their dispositions to be changed. … Without the timely chastisement and curses of today, your final day would have long since arrived. That is to say nothing of your fate—would not that be even more in imminent danger? Without this timely chastisement and judgment, who knows how arrogant you would grow, or how depraved you would become. You have absolutely no ability to control and reflect upon yourselves. This chastisement and judgment have brought you to today, and they have preserved your existence. Should you not do better in accepting the chastisement and judgment of today? What other choices do you have?” (“You’re Protected Because You’re Chastised and Judged” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I read this passage over and over again, and every word went straight to the heart. I was fighting with Sister Zhao over status, disrupting the work of God’s house. If God hadn’t arranged multiple situations to punish me, I wouldn’t have stopped, but definitely would have kept battling with her. That could only further impact the work of the church. God set up those situations to put a quick stop to my evildoing. It was His care and salvation for me. It was God’s love, not Him wanting to eliminate me. I shouldn’t be depressed, but I should reflect on myself and repent to God. Realizing this was enlightening for me, and I stopped feeling so down. I came before God, praying, “Oh God, I was wrong. I want to truly repent. Please guide me to understand myself.”
Then one day I read some of God’s words in passage four of “Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth.” “The notions, imaginations, knowledge, and personal intent and desires that fill your heads remain unchanged from their original form. So if you hear that God’s house will cultivate a variety of talent, as soon as it touches upon position, face, or reputation, everyone’s heart leaps in anticipation, and each of you always wants to stand out, be famous, and be recognized. Everyone is unwilling to yield, always instead wishing to contend—even though contending is embarrassing and not allowed in God’s house. However, without contention, you still are not content. When you see someone stand out, you feel jealousy, hatred, and you become resentful, and feel that it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it always that person who gets to stand out, and it’s never my turn?’ You then feel some resentment. You try to repress it, but you cannot. You pray to God and feel better for a while, but when you encounter this sort of situation again, you cannot overcome it. Does this not display an immature stature? Is not a person’s falling into such states a trap? These are the shackles of Satan’s corrupt nature that bind humans” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Antichrists think of the work of the house of God, including the interests of the church, as entirely their own, as their personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. And so the only things they think about when doing the work of the house of God are their own interests, their own status and prestige. They reject anyone who, in their eyes, is a threat to their status and reputation; they suppress and ostracize them. They even exclude and suppress people who are useful and suitable for performing certain special duties. … The antichrists also fabricate lies and exaggerate the facts among the brothers and sisters, speaking ill of people to bring them down, finding excuses to exclude and repress them no matter what work these people do; so, too, are they judgmental about them, saying they are arrogant and self-righteous, that they like showing off, that they harbor ambitions. In fact, these people all have strong points, they are all people who love the truth, and are worth nurturing. Only minor faults are found in them, occasional manifestations of corrupt disposition; they all have relatively good humanity. Overall, they are suitable for performing a duty, they accord with the principles for those who perform a duty. In the eyes of the antichrists, they think, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put up with this. You want to have a role within my domain, to compete with me. That’s impossible, don’t even think about it. You’re more capable than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, and more popular than me. What would I do if you stole my thunder? You want me to work alongside you? Don’t even think about it!’ Are they considering the interests of the house of God? No. All they are thinking about is how to preserve their own status, so they would rather harm the interests of the house of God than use these people. This is exclusion” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). I learned from God’s words that antichrists are incredibly evil and vicious by nature. They cherish reputation and status and always want to be on top in any group. They want people’s admiration and adoration wherever they are, and if anyone keeps them from standing out or threatens their status, they’ll lash out, reject, judge, and degrade that person. They don’t care how much they might hurt the work of God’s house, and they don’t uphold it at all. I realized that I was acting just like an antichrist. When I made some progress in my early days as a leader, I felt like I was a talent worth cultivating. But after Sister Zhao came along and I saw that she surpassed me in every aspect and the others really liked her, I thought she was stealing my glory. I was jealous and started covertly competing with her. When she noticed a team leader wasn’t a good fit, I knew that leader needed to be replaced but I wanted to protect my name and status, so I dragged my feet, putting off dismissing her. I was ready to see the work of God’s house suffer before compromising my reputation. I reveled in her failure when one of her work plans didn’t go well, subtly blaming her and intentionally making her look bad. Even worse, I got more jealous when a leader had her take over responsibility for transporting the books. I thought the leader valued her more than me, so I petulantly ignored that part of our work. When she asked me about something she wasn’t sure of, I just ignored her, intentionally putting her in a difficult position, wanting her to look bad. That meant some books weren’t moved on time. Thinking back over our interactions, I felt like I’d been drunk on my desire for name and status, and I’d caused problems between us at every turn for the sake of my image. I didn’t care how much it hurt the work of God’s house. I even made a big fuss over inconsequential things, disrespecting and rejecting her. Other sisters excluded her because of my influence. I resorted to such lowly tactics just to protect my status, secretly attacking and rejecting her. It was insidious and evil. Where was my humanity? I was being nothing but demonic. I was in a constant battle with Sister Zhao over name and gain, disregarding the work of God’s house. Without God’s righteousness, crashing my e-bike and almost getting arrested, which meant my duty was suspended, I wouldn’t have stopped doing evil, and I wouldn’t have come before God in reflection. God elevated me to serve as a leader. I not only failed in my responsibilities, in carrying out God’s commission, but I was obsessed with gaining admiration and being valued by the leader, with standing out. Things like “There can only be one alpha male,” “In all the universe, only I reign supreme” were satanic poisons I lived by. I was in constant competition with Sister Zhao, as if there could only be one king of the hill. I even hoped she’d do poorly and be dismissed. What I saw in myself scared me—that’s such a vicious nature. I was on an antichrist’s path. Satan’s toxins had been poisoning me, making me crave admiration, as if that was the only way to live with dignity. But I could see that for the sake of admiration, I was capable of disregarding the interests of God’s house, of oppressing a sister. Living that way was repulsive to God and others. I didn’t have a shred of honor. Someone with true integrity would be able to cooperate in harmony, to accept the truth, uphold the interests of God’s house, and do the duty of a created being. But I was living by a satanic philosophy and couldn’t even distinguish between good and bad. I was going headlong down the wrong path, a path toward destruction! I really hated myself when I realized that. At the same time, I was really grateful for God’s salvation and saw how much I rebelled against God, but God didn’t treat me based on my transgressions. He set up situations to awaken my numb and dull-witted heart. I was overcome with gratitude to God, and I wanted to use that chance to really seek the truth to resolve my corruption.
I read this passage of God’s words during my devotionals: “Regardless of the direction you’re striving in, or the goal you’re striving for, regardless of how demanding you are of yourself about relinquishing status, as long as status has a certain place in your heart, and is able to control and influence your life and the goals you strive for, the changes in your disposition will be greatly compromised, and God’s ultimate definition of you will turn out to be a different story. What’s more, such pursuit of status affects your ability to be an acceptable creature of God, and of course affects your ability to perform your duty to an acceptable standard. Why do I say this? Nothing is more loathsome to God than when people pursue status, because the pursuit of status is corrupt disposition; it is born of the corruption of Satan, and in God’s view should not exist. God did not ordain that it should be given to man. If you are always competing and fighting for status, if you constantly cherish it, if you always want to seize it for yourself, does this not bear a little of the nature of antipathy to God? Status is not ordained for people by God; God provides people with the truth, the way, and the life, and ultimately makes them become an acceptable creature of God, a small and insignificant creature of God—not someone who has status and prestige and is revered by thousands of people. And so, no matter what perspective it is viewed from, the pursuit of status is a dead end. No matter how reasonable your excuse for pursuing status is, this path is still the wrong one, and is not praised by God. No matter how hard you try or how great the price you pay, if you desire status, God will not give it to you; if it’s not given by God, you will fail in fighting to obtain it, and if you keep fighting there will only be one outcome: death! This is a dead end—you understand this, yes?” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). I learned from God’s words that chasing name and status is what God hates most, and it’s absolutely the wrong path. Anyone who’s aware they’re fighting for these things and harming the church’s work but refuses to repent is bound to be condemned and punished by God. God’s words were so poignant and left me afraid. I could feel God’s wrathful and majestic disposition that tolerates no offense. I was so lacking in my work skills and didn’t know how to manage so many things. But Sister Zhao was better in this aspect and could make up for what I lacked. I should have learned from her strengths to help out with my weaknesses, worked alongside her for the sake of the church’s work. But instead, I didn’t understand God’s will or focus on pursuing the truth for my duty. I was just comparing myself with her, seizing upon her faults to oppress her. It was really hurtful for her and created roadblocks for the work of God’s house. God was reprimanding and disciplining me time after time, but I kept insisting on fighting against Him, refusing to turn back. I didn’t wake up until God set up situations to get my duty halted. I saw I was incredibly stubborn and didn’t have a place for God in my heart. But at the same time, I could feel God’s mercy. God wanted me to be able to accept the truth and genuinely repent, to be someone who fears God and shuns evil. That’s what brings joy to God. Plus, I realized that even if I did gain lots of people’s admiration but didn’t have God’s approval, ultimately He’d expose and eliminate me. Pursuing name and status, working for admiration, is the wrong path to take. Now that I’m a believer, I should pursue the truth, just like God tells us. Realizing that, I said a prayer, not wanting to be jealous of Sister Zhao or chase after name and status anymore, but to submit to God’s arrangements, to eat and drink God’s words and reflect on myself in my current situation. Then I started slowly getting into a better state and my hand gradually healed.
I was elected as a leader again in January 2021, and I wasn’t gloating about it like before, thinking about people looking up to me because of my status, but I felt like God was giving me a chance to repent. I silently swore that I’d treasure this duty, to never again be jealous and fight for status. But something happened pretty soon that exposed me again. One day I got a letter from a higher-up leader with Sister Zhao’s signature. My mind was reeling when I saw it, and I was thinking that she’d been promoted, while I was in the same old place. I really wasn’t her equal. I started feeling really annoyed, but this time I realized I was getting competitive with her again, so I quickly came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me away from my corrupt disposition of fighting for name and gain, but to be able to submit to His arrangements and do my duty as I should. I felt calmer after praying and I thought about working with her before, that because I’d been jealous and competitive with her, I’d hurt her so much and my own life had suffered, too. This contact with Sister Zhao was God giving me a fresh chance to repent. I couldn’t keep living in my corruption, being manipulated by Satan like before. I wanted to practice the truth, to forsake myself. I thought of God’s words: “What are your principles for conducting yourselves? You should conduct yourselves according to your station, find the right station for you, and stand fast in your station. By way of example, there are people who are good at a profession and can grasp its principles, and they should make the final checks in this regard; there are people who can provide ideas and insights, enabling everyone else to build on their ideas and perform this duty better—they should then provide ideas. If you can find the right station for you and work in harmony with your brothers and sisters, you will be fulfilling your duty, and you will be conducting yourself according to your station” (“The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God asks that we stay in the place of a created being, do our duty as upright people, and just contribute whatever we’re able to. That’s the only way to live like a real person. Whatever caliber I had was determined by God. God knew what I could do, so I just needed to do my best in my duty, work well with my sister and uphold the church’s work together. That’s enough for God. When she was new to the church’s work and there was a lot she didn’t know, I should be eager to help her out, to help brief her on our work, so we could ferret out problems and resolve them quickly. Realizing this was a huge relief for me. After that, I went to discuss some problems in our work with Sister Zhao and she made some good suggestions. I happily accepted them and implemented them right away. Once I stopped comparing myself with her, but put God’s words into practice, I felt so much more at ease in my heart, and our relationship improved a lot.
This experience has shown me just how painful it is to be governed by name and status. Now I feel free of these shackles. I can practice the truth and have a bit of a human likeness. It’s all thanks to God’s judgment and chastisement! I’ve also really experienced how freeing it is to practice the truth. It’s a wonderful way to live. I’m grateful for God’s salvation from the bottom of my heart.