The Shamelessness of Showing Off
By Wan Xinping, China
In March 2020, I transferred to a new church. I was a leader at my old church, and my brothers and sisters thought very highly of me. Whenever they had problems, they came to me to resolve them. But at this new church, the brothers and sisters weren’t familiar with me. I felt like a nameless pawn, which was very disappointing. I thought: “I used to be fairly adept at preaching the gospel, so this time, if I can use my ability to guide more people toward accepting God’s work in the last days, it will show everyone that I have caliber and perform my duties more effectively than others, and then I’ll be able to stand out.” So, I started preaching the gospel everywhere, from morning to night, sometimes I was too busy to eat, and before long, thanks to my preaching, more than a dozen people had accepted God’s work. I thought, “My brothers and sisters will certainly look at me with new eyes for how well I performed my duties.” When I saw my brothers and sisters, I couldn’t stop myself from showing off. They said enviously, “It’s so easy for you to preach the gospel, but we can’t. When I meet gospel targets with notions who won’t listen, I don’t know what to say to them.” The truth is that I also often encountered this situation, and couldn’t make headway with such people, but I rarely talked about these problems and failures, or didn’t mention them at all, because I was afraid that if everyone knew, they wouldn’t see me as capable or think highly of me. I thought, “I have to talk about my successful experiences of preaching the gospel so that you can see how well I perform my duties.” So I said, “Preaching the gospel isn’t hard. When I meet gospel targets, here’s how I fellowship with them …” My brothers and sisters admired me very much when they heard that. After that, when anyone had friends or relatives who wanted to investigate God’s work in the last days, others would say, “Have Zhi Ping go preach to them. You want Zhi Ping.” I was very happy when I saw that this was everyone’s attitude. Soon, I was recommended to take charge of the watering work of several churches. This made me even more proud, and I thought I had an even bigger stage to show my talents. When my brothers and sisters had difficulties sharing the gospel or watering newcomers and pulled back, or became unwilling to suffer and pay a price, I encouraged them and talked about how I suffered in preaching the gospel. I said that when I preached the gospel, sometimes it was over ten degrees below zero in winter, and the wind cut face like a knife, but even in weather like that, I went out to preach. In heavy rain, when water ran deep under the bridges and my shoes were wet, I squeezed the water out of my insoles, carried it in my pocket, and continued on my way to preach. Once, in temperatures more than ten degrees below zero, I went to meet with a newcomer, and I waited outside for more than an hour before he came. … When my brothers and sisters heard this, they looked at me with approval and admired me for being able to suffer, and that always made me happy.
Later, my leaders made me responsible for the watering work of more churches. I thought, “In just a few short months I’ve been promoted again, so my brothers and sisters will think even more highly of me!” During that period, I often prayed to God and strove to equip myself with aspects of the truth regarding watering newcomers. Gradually, I found a path forward in my duties. My brothers and sisters all felt listening to my fellowship was helpful for them. Without me realizing it, my ego started to swell again and I started to show off again at meetings. When my brothers and sisters asked me how to resolve the religious notions brought up by newcomers, I thought, “I’ll talk to them properly about this so that everyone can see my expertise in this area.” Then I told them my thoughts and experience in detail, and slowly, everyone looked at me differently. They listened attentively to whatever I said, I was welcomed by brothers and sisters wherever I went, and even brothers and sisters who had never heard my fellowship also asked to hear from me. Later, I took the common problems encountered in evangelism and watering work, wrote out seventeen rules, took it to meetings and had a big talk with the brothers and sisters. At that time, there was a sister whose husband was a village cadre and opposed her belief in God. He raised a lot of sharp questions and deliberately made things difficult for us, and he asked for my fellowship by name. I was very anxious about it, but by praying to God, I refuted each of his questions, and in the end, he had nothing to say. Afterwards, I took the questions this sister’s husband raised and included them in my frequently asked questions about spreading the gospel. Each time at meetings, I deliberately brought it out and talked about it vividly, and used my successful experiences to let my brothers and sisters know I was capable and wise. After meetings, some brothers and sisters said, “Sister, can you stay one more day with us and give us more fellowship?” Seeing how everyone admired me, I couldn’t help but be proud. To let my brothers and sisters know I was someone important and could suffer and pay a price in my duties, I even pretended to say casually, “I’m in charge of many churches, and I already have an appointment at another church. A lot of brothers and sisters are waiting for me. I’m so busy that I have no time to rest. …” When I spoke with my brothers and sisters, I would also deliberately say, “Each time I go to a meeting, it takes the whole day. I had a fracture in my waist before, and I really can’t take sitting like this.” A sister heard that and said with admiration, “You are really working hard, so you have to pay attention to your health.” Because I often showed off among the brothers and sisters like this, they felt I was quite able to suffer and bore a burden in the performance of my duties.
During that period, I was too busy with meetings and fellowship, and sometimes my heart was empty, and I didn’t know what to talk about. But when I saw the expectation in the eyes of my brothers and sisters, I thought, “The brothers and sisters now feel that I fellowship on the truth clearly, and everyone looks up to me wherever I go. If I tell them I don’t know how to fellowship, won’t the good image I set up in their hearts collapse?” So I pretended to be calm and asked them to fellowship first. I thought, “First, I’ll listen to what everyone talks about, then I’ll summarize what they said and share my own understanding. That will make it look like I’ve received the truth more comprehensively and lucidly.” In the end, the brothers and sisters did feel I gave thorough fellowship. And I pretended to say modestly, “Because I have this duty, God has enlightened me differently.” When I said this, the brothers and sisters became more dependent on me. During that time, no matter what problems they encountered in preaching the gospel, they didn’t pray or seek anymore, but instead hoped that I could fellowship with them and solve them. At that time, I also thought about the harms of admiring and being admired, and I felt a little uneasy, but then I thought, “My fellowship is all about my understanding of God’s word and pointing out some paths of practice for my brothers and sisters. All of it is so that our work can achieve results. There’s nothing wrong with that.” So those worries and anxiety merely flashed through my mind. But just when I was filled with passion and enthusiasm to perform my duty, my psoriasis that hadn’t acted up for several years suddenly relapsed. There were large patches of it on my legs, arms, and even face. It was very itchy, and it made me so uncomfortable I couldn’t go to meetings. I used various medicines, but nothing helped. This time, it was worse than before. I realized the condition wasn’t an accident, and that there must be lessons to be learned from it. I sought and prayed to God, but at the time, I didn’t realize what my problem was.
Later, my leaders arranged for me to fellowship with a few brothers and sisters who preached the gospel and resolve their problems. And I thought, “I’ll have to do well with them to show them my ability to work.” After that, I was like a company executive at a meeting presenting a report. I fellowshiped with them about how to grasp key points of fellowship when preaching the gospel, how to solve common problems in preaching the gospel. The brothers and sisters listened attentively. Some even constantly wrote down notes for fear of missing something I said, and the sister who hosted us also sat by the door, listened carefully, and gave me water from time to time. I really enjoyed seeing how much everyone liked my fellowship. But at the same time, I was a little uneasy. All of this was only my personal understanding, so mistakes were inevitable, so was it appropriate that everyone was writing down what I said? But then I thought, “Brothers and sisters might just want to record some good practices, which helps in the fulfillment of their duties. There can’t be anything wrong with that.” Once I thought of it that way, I decided to let people take notes at meetings. At the meeting the next day, one sister came back and said, “I didn’t write down Sister Zhi Ping’s fellowship yesterday, so I’ll listen to it again today.” Once the meeting was over, I heard two sisters speaking to each other. One said, “Did you record it?” The other sister complained, “Why didn’t you record it?” When I heard this, I felt a little afraid: “If everyone considers my words to be so important, aren’t I bringing people before myself?” The more I thought, the more scared I felt, so I went home and prayed to God to ask Him to enlighten me so that I could know myself.
I read two passages of God’s word: “Exalting and testifying to themselves, flaunting themselves, trying to make people think highly of them—corrupt mankind is capable of these things. This is how people instinctively react when they are governed by their satanic natures, and it is common to all of corrupt mankind. How do people usually exalt and testify to themselves? How do they achieve this aim? One way is to testify to how much they have suffered, how much work they have done, and how much they have expended themselves. They talk about these things as a form of personal capital. That is, they use these things as the capital by which they exalt themselves, which gives them a higher, firmer, more secure place in people’s minds, so that more people esteem, admire, respect, and even venerate, idolize, and follow them. That is the ultimate effect. Are the things they do to achieve this aim—all their exalting and testifying to themselves—reasonable? They are not. They are beyond the purview of rationality. These people have no shame: They unabashedly testify to what they have done for God and how much they have suffered for Him. They even flaunt their gifts, talents, experience, and special skills, or their clever techniques for conducting themselves and the means they use to toy with people. Their method of exalting and testifying to themselves is to flaunt themselves and belittle others. They also dissemble and camouflage themselves, hiding their weaknesses, shortcomings, and failings from people so that they only ever see their brilliance. They do not even dare to tell other people when they feel negative; they lack the courage to open up and fellowship with them, and when they do something wrong, they do their utmost to conceal it and cover it up. Never do they mention the harm they have caused to the house of God in the course of doing their duty. When they have made some minor contribution or achieved some small success, however, they are quick to show it off. They cannot wait to let the whole world know how capable they are, how high their caliber is, how exceptional they are, and how much better they are than normal people. Is this not a way of exalting and testifying to themselves?” (“They Exalt and Testify About Themselves” in Exposing Antichrists). “All of those who go downhill exalt themselves and bear testimony to themselves. They go around boasting about themselves and self-aggrandizing, and they have not taken God to heart at all. Do you have any experience of what I am talking about? Many people are constantly bearing testimony to themselves: ‘I’ve suffered in this way and that; I’ve done this work and that; God has treated me in this way and that; He asked me to do such and such; He thinks especially highly of me; now I’m like this and that.’ They deliberately speak in a certain tone and adopt certain postures. Ultimately, some people end up thinking that these people are God. Once they have gotten to that point, the Holy Spirit will long since have abandoned them. Although, for the meantime, they are ignored, and not expelled, their fate is set, and all they can do is to await their punishment” (“People Make Too Many Demands of God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word precisely revealed my state. I often exalted myself and showed off like this. When I first started at the new church, I felt like I was unknown and insignificant, so I thought of preaching the gospel as a chance for others to admire and follow me. To show everyone my ability to work and make them look at me with new eyes, I didn’t talk about my own experiences of failure, and instead, I talked a lot about how I preached the gospel, how many people I converted, and how to solve difficult problems to give people an illusion and make them think I was capable of anything. As I was promoted, I wanted more people to think highly of me and have a place for me in their hearts, so I always told my brothers and sisters how busy I was and what suffering I endured. But I never talked about my own weakness and corruption to make people think I could pursue the truth, pay a price, and bear burdens in my duties. Wasn’t this deceiving my brothers and sisters? The great red dragon constantly preaches its “great, glorious, and correct” image to make others admire and follow it, but in every way, it covers up the evil things it does in secret as a means to deceive the world’s people. What was the difference between what I was doing and the great red dragon? God gave me gifts and talents for spreading the gospel, so that I could do my part to expand the gospel’s reach and bring more people before God so they could gain His salvation. But I used these gifts and talents as capital to show off and display myself everywhere and enjoyed the respect and worship of my brothers and sisters for me. I was so shameless. Because I constantly exalted myself and showed off to deceive my brothers and sisters, they didn’t seek or pray to God when they had problems, but instead fellowshiped with me to solve them. Wasn’t I just trying to take God’s place? I was resisting God! When I thought about this, I was very afraid. I went back before God on my knees and cried as I prayed, “God, I did wrong. I exalted myself and showed off to make others worship me. I walked the irredeemable path of resisting You. I wish to repent.”
After that, I reflected on myself. I clearly knew that the light in my fellowship was the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, so why did I still involuntarily show off and display myself? Later, I read in God’s word, “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do notat all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Once people have grown arrogant in nature and essence, they can often disobey and resist God, not heed His words, generate notions about Him, do things that betray Him, and things that exalt and bear testimony to themselves. You say you are not arrogant, but suppose you were given a church and allowed to lead it; suppose that I did not deal with you, and that no one in God’s family pruned you: After leading it a while, you would bring people to your feet and make them submit before you. And why would you do that? This would be determined by your nature; it would be none other than a natural revelation. You do not have any need to learn this from others, nor is there any need for them to teach it to you. You do not need others to instruct you or compel you to do this; this kind of situation comes about naturally. Everything you do is about making people submit before you, worship you, exalt you, testify about you, and listen to you in all things. Allowing you to be leader naturally brings about this situation, and it cannot be changed. And how does this situation come about? It is determined by man’s arrogant nature. The manifestation of arrogance is rebellion and resistance against God. When people are arrogant, self-important, and self-righteous, they tend to set up their own independent kingdoms and do things however they want. They also bring others into their own hands and draw them into their embraces. For people to be capable of doing such things, it means the essence of their arrogant nature is that of Satan; it is that of the archangel. When their arrogance and self-importance reach a certain level, they become the archangel, and God must be put aside. If you possess such an arrogant nature, God will have no place in your heart” (“An Arrogant Nature Is the Root of Man’s Resistance to God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I saw from that my nature was very arrogant and self-righteous. I was just like Paul, who liked to be worshiped and admired. At first, I just wanted to perform my duty well, but I was controlled by my arrogant and self-righteous nature, so in groups, I involuntarily showed off and put myself on display. Although I knew my words contained my personal intentions and purposes, I could never control my own ambitions and desires. I always wanted to be admired and praised. As a child, I was spoiled with attention by my family, and when I grew up, I went into business and became a well-known female entrepreneur. At home and at work, I always had the final say. Wherever I went, I heard the praise and admiration of others, and I enjoyed the feeling of being the brightest star in the sky and having everyone’s support. After believing in God, I was never satisfied with being ordinary and unknown in the church. I always looked for opportunities to make others admire and look up to me. Paul’s nature was especially arrogant, and he always wanted others to worship and think highly of him, so he showed off how much work he did and how much suffering he endured everywhere he went. He never testified Christ in his letters. Instead, he exalted himself under the banner of supporting the church, and later, he shamelessly testified that he lived as Christ. The believers worshiped him, exalted him, used him as a benchmark, and even regarded his words as God’s words. It was to the point that today, 2,000 years later, many religious believers cling to Paul’s words and refuse to accept God’s work of the last days. Paul brought people before him, which offended God’s disposition, and he was punished by God. Now, I was also arrogant and self-righteous, and lived by things like “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” “Stand out above the rest,” and similar satanic ideas and viewpoints. I always wanted to be above others, show off, and put my talent on display. This caused my brothers and sisters to only listen to me when things happened, accept whatever I said, think of ways to make up when they didn’t take full notes of my fellowship, and even record me, because they viewed my words as more important than God’s. Even then, I didn’t know to reflect on myself. Instead, I immersed myself in the pleasure of being admired. I was so arrogant and so shameless! I had no knowledge of my own identity. I didn’t understand that I was a created being, a human who was corrupted by Satan, I shamelessly put myself on a high pedestal. I wanted others to have a place for me in their hearts, to listen to me, and to support me. And because I kept showing off, my brothers and sisters did have a place for me in their hearts. The more they admired me, the farther from God they moved. Wasn’t I just contending with God for people? I thought of the first administrative decree of the Age of Kingdom, “Man should not magnify himself, nor exalt himself. He should worship and exalt God” (“The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom” in ). People were created by God, so we should worship God and regard Him as above all, but I made people admire me, look up to me, and regard me as above all. Wasn’t I violating this administrative decree? At that moment, I felt very afraid. I realized the serious nature of showing off to make others worship and think highly of me. If I continued, I would definitely go to hell and be punished like Paul! My sickness was God disciplining me. He was warning me through the sickness that I had gone astray. This was God’s salvation for me!
Later, I recalled a passage of God’s word, “Although God says He is the Creator and that man is His creation, which may sound like there is a slight difference in rank, the reality is that everything God has done for mankind far exceeds a relationship of this nature. God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly providing for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about or tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God is the Creator, and to save people from the bondage of Satan, God personally came incarnate to work among people, and endured people’s condemnation and slander. God sacrificed everything for humankind, yet He never showed off. Even as He interacted with people, He never traded on His identity as God. He just quietly supplied us with truth and life. I saw that God’s essence is beautiful and good, and that He is humble and hidden, without any arrogance or pride. Meanwhile, I was a person corrupted by Satan who originally had nothing, yet God elevated me with my duty, and He guided and enlightened me in the course of my duties, but I used it as capital to show off everywhere I went so that I could establish a lofty image in people’s hearts and win their admiration and appreciation. I was too shameless, and too disgusting and vile in God’s eyes. I went before God and prayed, “God, I was wrong. I wish to confess my sins to You and repent. I no longer wish to show off. I ask that You guide me and show me a path to resolve my corrupt disposition.”
I read two passages of God’s word: “What should one do in order to not exalt and testify to oneself? In the same matter, if you flaunt yourself, you’ll achieve your aim of exalting and testifying to yourself and inspiring veneration in others—but if you open up and lay bare your true self, the essence is different. This comes down to details, does it not? For example, when you lay bare your motivations and considerations, you must be able to differentiate between phrasing and ways of expressing yourself that are self-knowledge, and those of flaunting yourself so that others venerate you, which constitute exalting and bearing witness to yourself. If you recount how you have prayed and sought the truth, standing witness through trials, then this is exalting and bearing witness to God. Such practice is absolutely not flaunting yourself and bearing witness to yourself. Whether or not you are flaunting yourself and bearing witness to yourself chiefly depends on whether you have truly experienced what you say, and whether the effect of testimony to God has been achieved; so, too, is it necessary to look at what your intentions and aims are when you speak of your experiences and testimony. All these things make it easy to tell the difference. Your intention is also involved when you expose and dissect yourself. If your intention is to show everyone how your corruption was evidenced, how you have changed, and allow others to benefit from this, then your words are earnest and true, and in line with the facts. Such intentions are right, and you are not flaunting yourself or testifying to yourself. If your intention is to show everyone what you have really experienced, and that you have changed and possessed the reality of the truth, and thus earn their admiration and veneration, then these intentions are false—and should be brought to light, too. If the experiences and testimony you speak of are false, if they are emended, and designed to mislead people, to stop them from seeing the true side of you, to prevent your intentions, corruption, weakness, or negativity from being revealed to others, then such words are deceitful and duplicitous; this is false testimony, this is deceiving God, it brings shame upon God, and it is what God despises most of all. There are clear differences between these states, which are differentiated based on motivation” (“They Exalt and Testify About Themselves” in Exposing Antichrists). “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience that are genuine and from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I understood from God’s words that if I wanted to stop exalting and testifying myself, I would need to often live in God’s presence, possess a pious heart that fears God, open up my heart in front of my brothers and sisters, consciously disclose and analyze my own corruption, and talk about my real experiences. When I wanted to exalt and testify myself, I would have to forsake myself and set my intentions right. I would have to expose and analyze the corruption and rebellion in myself more often, and fellowship on my knowledge of God’s work after experiencing His judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement. I should speak more from the heart so that my brothers and sisters could benefit from it and see my genuine side. Once I had a path of practice, I laid bare my experience and understanding of this period at meetings with my brothers and sisters, and told them that the little bit of light in my fellowship comes entirely from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and not from my real stature. Without God’s guidance, I couldn’t do anything. They also realized that it was wrong for them to worship and look up to me, and said they wouldn’t look up to people anymore in the future. They said they would pray to God and seek His guidance when they had problems to get the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Later, when I was at meetings, sometimes I ran into problems I didn’t quite understand, but I could let go of my ego and openly seek with my brothers and sisters. After hearing this, they could fellowship about their own understanding and knowledge, sometimes about things which I didn’t understand, which was very helpful for me. They no longer worshiped me as they had previously, and when they discovered problems with me, they were able to point them out directly. Once I had the desire of exalting myself and showing off again, I prayed to God, accepted God’s inspection, and at the same time, I opened up my heart to my brothers and sisters, let them know my shortcomings and deficiencies, and accepted their supervision. I felt secure and at ease when I practiced this way, and I also tasted the sweetness of practicing the truth. Once I realized my arrogant nature and the wrong path I had taken, I repented to God. My psoriasis gradually disappeared, and bit by bit, I recovered.
After experiencing God’s discipline and chastening, I truly felt that God’s righteous disposition is so vivid and real, and although I endured some suffering, God’s intention was to save me from my satanic corrupt dispositions, which showed me God’s very real love. It was God’s judgment, chastisement, discipline, and chastening that stopped me from doing evil and pulled me back from the brink of danger. Thank God!