What Comes of Always Pleasing Others

October 17, 2022

By Xincheng, USA

I handle gospel work in the church. Sister Wang and I act together as group leaders. In the beginning, I could see Sister Wang was proactive in her duty, and that she was quite effective in her work. I thought she was a responsible person who bore burdens. But after a while, I noticed she was increasingly passive in her duty. She rarely noticed problems in work, let alone resolve them. In the past when we were summarizing our work, she’d always come to me to summarize problems or deviations in work, and to discuss ways to solve them. But this time there was just silence. Usually, we shared the bulk of the work in our group, and problems were summarized in a timely manner. This could solve problems better and improve work effectiveness. But now, Sister Wang wasn’t putting her heart into the group’s problems. I thought, “She isn’t performing her duties as a group leader. This isn’t acceptable, I have to fellowship with her about it.” But on second thought, “My relationship with Sister Wang is usually pretty good. If I tell her straight out that she is bearing a light burden in her duty and not doing any real work, will it embarrass her? If by saying this I disturb the peace, how will we get along afterwards? Forget it. It’s better not to risk it. I shouldn’t upset her.” At that time, I was constantly accusing myself in my mind, “Hasn’t Sister Wang’s state been bad during this period of time? If this goes on, her life will suffer and it will impact her work. Shouldn’t I hurry up and fellowship with her? But if I just directly point out that she lacks burden, will she feel constricted and think I’m monitoring her work? Maybe I should just tell the leader and let her help Sister Wang. Then I won’t need to offend her.” But then I thought, “If I tell the leader and Sister Wang finds out, will she say I was tattling on her? No, it’s better not to say anything.” I went back and forth like this and I just couldn’t get any reprieve from the matter. I was aware that my state was wrong, and so I prayed to God, asking Him to lead me to seek the truth and fix my problems.

Once during a gathering, I saw that God’s words say, “When you see a problem and do nothing to intercept it, and do not fellowship about it, and do not try to limit it, and aside from that, you do not report it to those above you, but play the part of a ‘nice person,’ is that a sign of disloyalty? Are those who are nice people loyal to God? Not even a little. Such a person is not just disloyal to God—they are acting as Satan’s accomplice, its attendant and follower. They are faithless in their duty and responsibility, but to Satan, they are quite loyal. Herein lies the essence of the problem. As to professional inadequacy, it is possible to constantly learn and draw together your experiences while performing your duty. Such problems can be easily resolved. The most difficult thing to resolve is man’s corrupt disposition. If you do not pursue the truth or resolve your corrupt disposition, but are always playing the nice person, and not dealing with or helping those whom you have seen violate the principles, nor exposing or revealing them, but always shrinking back, not taking responsibility, then such performance of duty as yours will only compromise and delay the work of the church(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). “People’s behavior and treating others must be based on the words of God; this is the most basic principle for human conduct. How can people practice the truth if they do not understand the principles of human conduct? Practicing the truth is not saying empty words and reciting set phrases. No matter what one may encounter in life, as long as it involves the principles of human conduct, perspectives on events, or the matter of performing their duty, they are faced with making a choice, and they should seek the truth, they should search for a basis and principle in God’s words, and then they should search for a path to practice; those who can practice in this way are people who pursue the truth. To be able to pursue the truth in this way no matter how great the difficulties one encounters is to walk the path of Peter and the path of pursuing the truth. For example: What principle should be followed when interacting with others? Your original viewpoint is that you should not offend anyone, but maintain the peace and avoid making anyone lose face, so that in the future, everyone can get along. Constricted by this viewpoint, when you see someone do something bad, make a mistake, or commit an act that goes against the principles, you would rather tolerate it than bring it up with the person. Constricted by your viewpoint, you become averse to offending anyone. No matter who you associate with, hindered as you are by thoughts of face, of emotions, or of feelings that have grown over many years of interaction, you will always say nice things to make the person happy. Where there are things you find unsatisfactory, you are also tolerant; you merely let off a little steam in private, cast a few aspersions, but when you meet them in person, you don’t rock the boat and still maintain a relationship with them. What do you think of such conduct? Is it not that of a yes-man? Is this not pretty slippery? It violates the principles of conduct. So is it not lowly to act in such a manner? Those who act like this are not good people, nor are they noble. No matter how much you have suffered, and no matter the price you have paid, if you conduct yourself without principles, then you have failed and will meet no approval before God, nor be remembered by Him, nor please Him(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Perform One’s Duty Well, One Must at Least Be Possessed of a Conscience and Reason). God’s words made me recognize that I had been harboring the misguided view that relationships between people always needed to be peaceful. If I always pointed out and exposed others’ issues, it would offend them and likely hurt both their pride and our relationship, making it hard to get along. By comparing this view with God’s words, I finally saw that it wasn’t in line with the truth, and went against the principles of being a person. People like this are selfish, base, slippery, and deceitful. To maintain good relations, they say nothing when they see someone has a problem, and only offer words of flattery and praise. They are insincere in their interactions and do not truly help, but rather, they bring harm upon people. These people are lowlifes in God’s eyes, and He does not approve of them. Just like how I treated Sister Wang—I saw clearly that she bore no burden in her duty and was not doing real work, but I didn’t practice the truth by calling her out on her problems. I didn’t even have the courage to report her issues. All I considered was how to preserve my relationship with my sister. I thought that exposing someone’s issues would offend them and hurt their feelings. Even though I saw that it was impacting work, I still wasn’t willing to deny the flesh and practice the truth. I was being a deceitful people pleaser! I discovered my sister’s problem but did not expose it. Although I preserved our relationship, it was of no benefit whatsoever to her life entry, and it affected the church’s gospel work, too. By doing this, I was truly harming others and the church’s work.

After this, I pondered what the principles for interacting with people should be. I saw that God’s word says, “You must focus on the truth—only then can you enter into life, and only when you have entered into life can you provide for others and lead them. If it is discovered that others’ actions are at odds with the truth, we must lovingly help them to strive for the truth. If others are able to practice the truth, and there are principles to the way they do things, we should try to learn from and emulate them. This is what mutual love is. This is the sort of atmosphere you must have within the church—everyone focusing on the truth and striving to attain it. It does not matter how old or young people are, or whether or not they are veteran believers. Nor does it matter whether they have high or low caliber. These things do not matter. Before the truth, everyone is equal. The things you must look at are who speaks correctly and in conformity with the truth, who thinks of the interests of God’s house, who bears the greatest burden in the work of God’s house, who understands the truth more clearly, who shares a sense of righteousness, and who is willing to pay the price. Such people should be supported and applauded by their brothers and sisters. This atmosphere of uprightness that comes from pursuing the truth must prevail within the church; in this way, you will have the work of the Holy Spirit, and God will bestow blessings and guidance(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only One Who Performs Their Duty With All Their Heart, Mind, and Soul Is One Who Loves God). In the church the truth reigns; church members should put truth as their priority when interacting. Anyone who violates principles should be told, dealt with and helped lovingly so that they can strive towards truth. Whoever speaks and acts in accordance with the truth, and is upright and able to protect the church’s work should be supported and protected. It is only if everyone focuses on seeking and practicing the truth, and allows the pursuit of truth to prevail at the church, that the Holy Spirit can do His work. When I understood these things, my heart lifted, and I had a path to practice. I also thought how actually, every true believer in God wants to perform their duty well and repay His love. But no one can avoid displaying their corruption and many insufficiencies in the course of their duty. Brothers and sisters must help and correct each other on this. Pointing out and exposing others’ problems isn’t done to embarrass them, nor to attack them, rather, it is done to help people realize their problems and reverse their incorrect state. Only this is true love, and the expression of mutual love. It is to protect the work of the church. By contrast, when you see others’ problems but keep your lips sealed, carrying out Satan’s philosophy to protect your personal interests, this is being irresponsible towards people’s life entry and the church’s work. Living this way is too selfish and base. I thought about my interactions with Sister Wang. I saw there were problems in her duty, but didn’t give her any real help because I was only concerned with protecting my image, and gave no thought to her life entry, nor the church’s work. I was truly selfish, base, and had no humanity! At this point I was filled with reproach, and willing to practice God’s words, and treat my sister in accordance with the principles of truth.

Later, I went to Sister Wang and opened up and fellowshiped to her. I told her all the problems I’d seen one-by-one. She was really moved after reading a passage of God’s words, and said her state had been really bad lately and that she even had nothing to say during prayers. I was shocked to hear this and blamed myself. If I had pointed this out and helped her sooner, maybe she could have reversed her incorrect state, and it wouldn’t have impacted her duty. I saw how my not practicing the truth and acting as a people pleaser just to preserve my relationship with my sister was really harming her. So I prayed to God and resolved that in my future interactions with people, I would focus on practicing the truth, and that if I discovered a problem I would point it out and help right away rather than be a people pleaser.

From then on, Sister Wang was more active in her duty. But after a while, I noticed that her work frequently violated principles. Even if someone was of bad humanity and wasn’t in line with the principles of sharing the gospel, she would still share the gospel with them, wasting effort. I was confused. Sister Wang had been spreading the gospel for so long. She should have a better grasp on every aspect of the principles. How could she make such obvious mistakes? Has her state not been reversed yet? Maybe I should remind her. But then I thought, “I already helped her before. I don’t need to constantly correct her. This is so uncomfortable. If I’m always correcting her, will she think I’m an arrogant person, that I’m always nitpicking others’ problems, or that I ask too much of people? That would be bad for my image. I should just leave it alone.” So just like that, I saw that Sister Wang’s state and condition weren’t right during her duty, but I still turned a blind eye and didn’t point it out or help her. Some time passed, and Sister Wang was dismissed because she had been sloppy and ineffective in her duties for a long time. I felt so guilty. I clearly saw there were problems in my sister’s duty, but I paid no heed. I turned a blind eye, and did nothing to remind or help her. Now that she had been dismissed, was I not also responsible? I felt tormented and at a loss. Why was I always a people pleaser and incapable of practicing the truth? What was the root of this problem?

As I reflected and sought, I saw that God’s word says, “There is a tenet in philosophies for living that says, ‘Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship.’ It means that in order to preserve a friendly relationship, one must keep silent about their friend’s problems, even if they see them clearly—that they should uphold the principles of not attacking the other’s dignity or exposing their deficiencies. They are to deceive each other, hide from each other, engage in intrigue with each other; and though they know with crystal clarity what sort of person the other is, they do not say it outright, but employ cunning methods to preserve their friendly relationships. Why would one want to preserve such relationships? It is about not wanting to make enemies in this society, within the group, which would mean subjecting oneself often to dangerous situations. As you do not know in what way someone will harm you after you have exposed their faults or hurt them and they become your enemy, and do not wish to put yourself in such a position, you employ the tenet of philosophies for living that runs, ‘Never hit below the belt, and never call others up short.’ In light of this, if two people are in such a relationship, do they count as true friends? (No.) They are not true friends, much less are they each other’s confidant. So, what sort of relationship is this, exactly? Is it not a fundamental social relationship? (It is.) In such social relationships, people cannot offer their feelings, nor have deep exchanges, nor say anything they like, nor say out loud what is in their heart, or the problems they see in the other, or words that would benefit the other. Instead, they choose nice-sounding words so as not to hurt the other. They do not wish to make enemies. The goal of this is to keep the people around oneself from posing a threat. When no one is threatening to them, they live in relative ease and peace. Is this not people’s goal in promoting the phrase, ‘Never hit below the belt, and never call others up short’? (It is.) Clearly, this is a cunning, deceptive way of existence, with an element of defensiveness, and whose goal is self-preservation. People who live like this have no confidants, no close friends with whom they can say anything at all. They are defensive with each other, and calculating, and strategic, each taking what they need from the relationship. Is this not so? At its root, the goal of ‘never hit below the belt, and never call others up short’ is to keep from offending others and making enemies, to protect oneself by not causing hurt to anyone. It is a technique and method adopted to keep oneself from being hurt(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (8)). “Man’s satanic nature contains a great deal of philosophies. Sometimes you yourself are not even aware of them, and do not understand them; nevertheless, every moment of your life is based on these things. Moreover, you think that these philosophies are quite correct and reasonable, and not at all mistaken. This suffices to show that Satan’s philosophies have become people’s nature, and that they are living in complete accordance with them, thinking this way of living to be good, and without any sense of repentance at all. Therefore, they are constantly revealing their satanic nature, and in all aspects, they continue to live by Satan’s philosophies. Satan’s nature is humanity’s life, and it is humanity’s nature and essence(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter). Through the revelation of God’s word, I understood. The reason I couldn’t help myself from being a people pleaser was because I had been too deeply corrupted by Satan. My heart was full of Satan’s philosophies and laws, like “Never hit people below the belt,” and “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” etc. These things had become the code by which I lived my life. Under the command of these satanic philosophies, I thought that not offending people with my words and actions, maintaining good relationships, and keeping the peace was a wise way to live. So, even though I saw Sister Wang was sloppy in her duty and violating principles, and that it had already impacted work, I was unwilling to expose or correct her. I preferred to let gospel work suffer to maintain my relationships. I was so tightly bound by Satan’s philosophies, that I couldn’t practice truth, and hadn’t an ounce of conscience or reason! I saw that God’s word says, “Clearly, this is a cunning, deceptive way of existence, with an element of defensiveness, and whose goal is self-preservation.” I was deeply stirred. God’s words hit the nail on the head, and exposed my base intentions when I lived by the satanic philosophies. Before, I’d pompously thought that the reason I didn’t correct my sister was because I was afraid she’d feel constricted. But actually, this was just an excuse for me to not practice the truth. I was afraid that if I corrected her too often, she’d be offended, and think I was an arrogant person who likes to nitpick and who can’t treat people fairly. To give my sister a good impression, I turned a blind eye to her problems, causing her to constantly live in her corruption and to have no self-awareness. I was not truthful in my interactions with others, it was all fake appearances and tricks. I had been so slippery and deceitful! I thought of how when I partnered with Sister Wang in our duties, I didn’t practice the truth I should have practiced, and didn’t fulfill the responsibility I was supposed to. Now she had been dismissed, and I was left with regret. I had experienced how living according to Satan’s philosophies truly hurts others and yourself. Your life is base and reprehensible. I didn’t want to live according to them anymore. I wanted to seek the truth and perform my duty well.

Later on, I saw that God’s word says, “To be a little more specific: Being an honest person is being someone who is simple and open, who doesn’t tuck or hide themselves away, who doesn’t lie or speak indirectly, who is a direct person, who has a sense of justice and speaks honestly. This is the first thing that needs to be done. … Deceitful people are whom God loathes most. If you wish to cast off Satan’s influence and be saved, you must accept the truth. You must begin by being an honest person, saying true and real things, not being constrained by emotion, ridding yourself of pretense and trickery, and coming to speak and act with principles. Living like this is free and happy, and you are able to live before God(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Cast Off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition). “My kingdom requires those who are honest, those who are not hypocritical or deceitful. Are not the sincere and honest people unpopular in the world? I am just the opposite. It is acceptable for the honest people to come to Me; I delight in this kind of person, and I also need this kind of person. This is precisely My righteousness(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 33). God’s words made me understand that God likes people who are pure, upright, and honest, people who can be straight-forward and not deceitful in their speech and actions. Only honest people are worthy of entering God’s kingdom. This has been decided by God’s righteous disposition. Think about how in the world of unbelievers, every interaction is performative. Only pleasant and flattering words are spoken in front of others. Not one word of honesty. In the face of evil things which go against the conscience and ethics, most people choose to protect themselves, and think it best to avoid stirring the pot. They don’t dare speak even a word of honesty. They are especially hypocritical and treacherous, and have no integrity or backbone. But when I interacted with others, I too was carrying out these satanic philosophies. When I saw a problem, I didn’t expose it or help. I just protected my relationships with others. Living this way is too slippery and deceitful. It disgusts God and He hates it. At this point, I thought of how God is holy and has a trustworthy essence. God incarnate is interacting with people in a real way. He is expressing truth, passing judgment, and exposing people everywhere all the time, in accordance with the corrupt disposition they display, and their notions of God. In particular, God’s words of judgment and exposure speak directly to the root and essence of our corruption. Although His words are severe and harsh, they are all to make us know ourselves, repent and change. God’s words are stalwart and unequivocal. They are all words from the heart. God has a particularly honest and reliable heart towards people. If God didn’t clearly point and spell it out for us, if He didn’t expose the truth of how deeply humans have been corrupted by Satan, we would never be aware of ourselves. Instead, we would be living in our own imaginings, thinking we are good. Our corrupt disposition would never change, and we would never achieve salvation. God hopes we can recognize the truth of our corruption through His words of judgment and exposure, and that we can repent to God, live by His words, and seek to be an honest person. This is God’s love towards people. After pondering all this, I felt a great sense of encouragement. I resolved that I was willing to follow God’s demands, and be a pure, upright, and honest person.

Once, our leader, Sister Yang, was discussing work with us. I realized there was a deviation in the work she assigned, and wanted to point it out to her. But then I thought, “This sister is the leader. If I point out an oversight or deviation in her duty, will she be embarrassed? If she thinks I’m trying to make things difficult for her and she tries to get back at me later, then what? Forget it, I shouldn’t say anything. Everyone makes mistakes.” At this point, I realized that my people pleaser mentality was coming to the fore again. So I prayed that God would guide me to practice the principles of truth. Afterwards, I read God’s word that says, “If you have the motivations and perspective of a ‘nice person,’ then, in all matters, you will be incapable of practicing the truth and abiding by principle, and you will always fail and fall down. If you do not awaken and do not ever seek the truth, then you are a nonbeliever, and you will never gain the truth and the life. What, then, should you do? When faced with such things, you must call out to God in prayer, begging for salvation, and asking that God give you more faith and strength, to enable you to abide by principle, do what you should do, handle things according to principle, stand your ground, protect the interests of God’s house, and prevent any harm from coming to the work of God’s house. If you are able to forsake your self-interests, reputation, and the standpoint of a ‘nice person,’ and if you do what you should do with an honest, undivided heart, then you will have defeated Satan, and will have gained this aspect of the truth. If you always live by the philosophy of Satan, maintaining your relationships with others and never practicing the truth, not daring to abide by principle, then will you be able to practice the truth in other matters? You will have no faith, no strength. If you are never able to seek or accept the truth, then will such faith in God allow you to obtain the truth? (No.) And if you cannot obtain the truth, can you be saved? You cannot. If you always live by the philosophy of Satan, utterly devoid of the reality of the truth, then you can never be saved. It should be clear to you that obtaining the truth is a necessary condition for salvation. How, then, can you obtain the truth? If you are able to practice the truth, if you can live by the truth, and the truth becomes the basis of your life, then you will gain the truth and have life, and so you will be one of those who is saved(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). After reading God’s words, I saw that if people live by satanic philosophies and are always people pleasers, they will never obtain truth, and will ultimately never achieve salvation. At the same time, I understood that if you want to fix the problem of being a people pleaser, you need to pray a lot and rely on God, ask God for strength, be able to deny the flesh, forsake personal interest, and consider the church’s work. By practicing often in this way, you can gradually overcome the restraints of your corrupt disposition. If you are forever unable to practice the truth and are not devoted to your duty, eventually you will be exposed and cast out. At this thought, I had the courage and motivation to practice the truth. I couldn’t continue to be a people pleaser with no conscience and humanity. So, I brought the issue up with my leader. After telling her, I felt a sense of great relief. Later on, at a gathering, the leader fellowshiped about her reflection and gains after being confronted. Hearing about my sister’s experience and realization moved me a lot, and I tasted the sweetness of practicing the truth! Having this experience increased my faith in practicing the truth. When I encountered similar situations after this, though I would still often display the views of a people pleaser, the pain and struggle I experienced were less than before. I could consciously deny myself and practice the truth. By practicing the truth this way, my heart felt greatly relieved and at peace. It was God’s words that achieved this effect. Thank God!

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