What Lies Behind a Fear of Opening Up
By Ye Xincao, Myanmar
In March of 2020, I accepted the work ofin the last days, and soon, I performed a duty. Not long after, I was elected as gospel deacon. I was very excited, and I thought, “I was selected over brothers and sisters who have performed their duties longer than me. It seems that to my brothers and sisters, I am a person of good caliber who pursues the truth. I have to perform my duty well so that they can see they didn’t choose the wrong person.” After that, I began to actively follow up on work. When I saw them in a bad state, I promptly sought God’s word to give them fellowship, and when I had good gospel experience, I quickly shared it with them. After a while, some brothers and sisters who were passive in their duties became more active, and I thought, “It looks like I really have some ability at this work. If my leaders find out, they will definitely think I’m good at this and cultivate me.” With this in mind, I was even more excited and more motivated in my duty. Later, when the gospel work proved effective, I sent the good news to the group, hoping all my brothers and sisters could see the good results of my duty. I also showed off from time to time among my brothers and sisters. When learning about their work, I first asked them if they had any problems or difficulties, and then I deliberately said, “In addition to solving your problems and difficulties, I have to follow up on a lot of other work. Every day is busy, and I sleep very late.” After hearing me say this, some brothers and sisters said, “We haven’t had any difficulties lately. Sister, you work so hard.” Hearing them say that made me happy. I felt they must think I bore a burden in my duty, that I was willing to pay a price, and I was a responsible person.
One day, a brother came to me to open up and fellowship on his state. He said, “I always try to make people look up to me in my duty. When I follow up on work, I always speak from the position of a group leader and always show off when I speak.…” My heart stirred when I heard that. Wasn’t I like that too? When I followed up on work, I always wanted to make everyone know that I was no longer a common believer, but a deacon. Sometimes, I deliberately mentioned that I was responsible for a lot of work and that I was so busy I slept late. I wanted others to see I bore a burden and had a sense of responsibility in my duty. In this, I was showing off to make others look up to me. I wanted to open up and fellowship with the brother to seek solutions to this state together, but then I thought, “I am a gospel deacon now. If I open up about my corruption, will this brother feel that I am very corrupt and place a high priority on status? Will he have a bad opinion of me? Then the good image I’ve built up will be gone.” With this in mind, I decided not to open up, so I comforted him by saying, “It’s okay, I have corruption too.” Then I said a few words of fellowship with him, and that was that.
Another time, a group I was in charge of elected a group leader, and I thought, “Since there is a group leader in charge of work, then I don’t need to follow up on it.” Later, when that group was discussing work, I didn’t listen carefully. Even at their meetings, I was only going through the motions. Just like that, a month passed in a blur, and the effectiveness of that group’s work markedly declined. At one meeting, the brothers and sisters all reflected on their attitude toward their duty based on, as well as opened up to reveal their corruption. I knew that I was irresponsible and went through the motions when I oversaw their work, which made their work less effective, but I didn’t have the courage to say it because my image in their hearts was as someone who was diligent and responsible in my duty, and everyone had a good opinion of me. I worried that if I opened up, my brothers and sisters would have opinions about me. They would think I muddled through and was irresponsible in my duty. When my leaders found out, they would have a bad evaluation of me, and might dismiss me. That would be incredibly embarrassing. At this time, the leader asked me if I wanted to fellowship, and I was very conflicted. I wanted to fellowship, but I feared my status and image would be damaged if I spoke out, yet if I didn’t speak, I would be concealing myself and playing tricks. What would I do then? I was very anxious. Finally, I thought, “Forget it, I won’t fellowship this time. I’ll get through this moment, at least.” After the meeting, I felt very sad and very guilty, as if there was a great weight pressing down on me. So, I prayed to God to seek. Why was I afraid to open up about my corruption? Why did I always disguise myself, and always put my status and image first?
Later, I read two passages of God’s words and gained some understanding of myself. God’s words say, “What disposition is it when people always put up a front, always whitewash themselves, always put on a pretense so that others think highly of them, and cannot see their faults or shortcomings, when they always try to present their best side to people? This is arrogance, fakery, hypocrisy, it is the disposition of Satan, it is something evil. Take members of the satanic regime: No matter how much they fight, feud, or kill behind the scenes, no one is allowed to report or expose this. They are afraid that people will see their demonic face, and they do everything they can to cover it up. In public, they do their utmost to whitewash themselves, saying how much they love the people, how great, glorious and correct they are. This is the nature of Satan. The salient feature of Satan’s nature is trickery and deception. And what is the aim of this trickery and deception? To hoodwink people, to stop them from seeing its essence and its true colors, and thus achieve the aim of prolonging its rule. Ordinary people may lack such power and status, but they, too, wish to make others have a good opinion of them, and for people to have a high estimation of them, and give them a high status, in their hearts. This is what a corrupt disposition is” (“The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “To be an honest person, you must first lay your heart bare so that everyone can look into it, see all that you are thinking, and glimpse your true face; you must not try to disguise or package yourself to look good. Only then will people trust you and consider you honest. This is the most fundamental practice, and the prerequisite, of being an honest person. You are always pretending, always feigning holiness, virtuousness, greatness, and feigning high moral qualities. You do not let people see your corruption and your failings. You present a false image to people so that they believe you are upstanding, great, self-sacrificing, impartial, and selfless. Isn’t this deceitfulness and falsity? Do not put on a disguise, and do not package yourself; instead, lay yourself and your heart bare for others to see. If you can lay your heart bare for others to see, and lay bare all your thoughts and plans—both positive and negative—then are you not being honest? If you can lay yourself bare for others to see, then God, too, will see you and say, ‘You have laid yourself bare for others to see, and so you are surely honest before Me, too.’ If you only lay yourself bare to God when out of view of other people, and always pretend to be great and virtuous or just and selfless when in their company, then what will God think and say? He will say, ‘You are genuinely deceitful; you are purely hypocritical and petty; and you are not an honest person.’ God will condemn you thusly” (“The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s word, I felt depressed. God’s word precisely revealed my state. Since I was elected as gospel deacon, I felt I had higher caliber and stature than ordinary brothers and sisters, so I always wanted everyone to see my good side. I covered up my corruption and shortcomings to stop others from finding out about them. When I was effective in my duty, I wanted to show off. I couldn’t wait to send my good news to the group because I wanted the brothers and sisters, leaders, and other co-workers to see it. I also deliberately told others that I followed up on so much work and was very busy so that they could see I was responsible in my duty. I had been whitewashing and disguising myself to establish a positive, responsible, and truth-seeking image of myself. My purpose was to make my brothers and sisters look up to me. But actually, I wasn’t like that at all. I was also quite corrupt, like when I showed off in my duty, muddled through, and didn’t do practical work. But I never opened up and fellowshiped on my corruption and shortcomings, because I feared my brothers and sisters would know I craved status and was irresponsible, and then I would lose my good image in their hearts. As I reflected on this, I felt disgusted. I got along with others under false pretenses and disguised myself to make them look up to me. This was an arrogant, deceitful, and satanic disposition that God hates. I thought of how before I served as a gospel deacon, during meetings, I often heard brothers and sisters say, “Everyone has corrupt satanic dispositions, and everyone cherishes status. We can all do things to gain and maintain our status.” At the time, I thought, “If I have status, I will definitely not do things to maintain it.” But the facts and God’s word revealed me. I saw that to maintain my image and status, I disguised and whitewashed myself, and I was especially arrogant and deceitful. Only then did I see my belief that I wouldn’t pursue status existed only because I hadn’t been revealed. I was also a person who has been corrupted by Satan, and I was full of satanic dispositions. Then I recalled that God likes honest people, who can practice the truth and expose themselves. When I realized I had been disguising myself and not practicing the truth, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. I thought, “I need to be an honest person and open up about my corruption to everyone.”
A few days later, at the co-worker meeting, I wanted to open up and fellowship with others on how I disguised myself, deceived, and didn’t do practical work, and be an honest, open-minded person. But when I was about to fellowship, I hesitated again. “If I analyze and expose myself, what will my brothers and sisters think of me? Won’t the good image I’ve been working so hard to build be gone? If my brothers and sisters look down on me because of this, it would be far too embarrassing. I’d better wait a little longer and let the other brothers and sisters fellowship first.” But when I thought like this, I didn’t feel at ease. I didn’t want to open up about my corruption, so wasn’t this still pretending and wanting to maintain my status? A battle raged in my heart. If I spoke, others might look down on me. If I didn’t, I would feel guilty. I prayed to God, asking Him to lead me in practicing the truth. At this moment, I saw a passage of God’s words. “Do you know who are actually Pharisees? Are there any Pharisees around you? Why are these people called ‘Pharisees’? How are Pharisees described? They are people who are hypocritical, completely fake, and put on an act in everything they do. What act do they put on? They pretend to be good, kind, and positive. Is this what they are actually like? Absolutely not. Given that they are hypocrites, everything that is manifested and revealed in them is false; it is all pretense—it is not their true face. Where is their true face hidden? It is hidden deep within their hearts, never to be seen by others. Everything on the outside is an act, it is all fake, but they can only fool people; they cannot fool God. If people do not pursue the truth, if they do not practice and experience God’s words, then they cannot truly understand the truth, and so no matter how nice-sounding their words are, these words are not the reality of the truth, but words of doctrine. Some people only focus on parroting words of doctrine, they ape whoever preaches the highest sermons, with the result that in just a few years their recital of doctrine grows ever higher, and they are admired and venerated by many people, after which they start to camouflage themselves, and pay great attention to what they say and do, showing themselves to be especially pious and spiritual. They use these so-called spiritual theories to camouflage themselves. This is all they talk about wherever they go, specious things that fit with people’s notions, but which lack any of the reality of the truth. And through preaching these things—things that are in line with people’s notions and tastes—they dupe many people. To others, such people seem very devout and humble, but it is actually fake; they seem tolerant, forbearing, and loving, but it is actually a pretense; they say they love God, but it is actually an act. Others think such people holy, but it is actually fake. Where can a person who is truly holy be found? Human holiness is all fake. It is all an act, a pretense. On the outside, they appear loyal to God, but they are actually just performing for others to see. When no one is looking, they are not the slightest bit loyal, and everything they do is perfunctory. Superficially, they expend themselves for God and have given up their families and careers. But what are they doing in secret? They are conducting their own enterprise and running their own operation in the church, profiting from the church and stealing offerings secretly under the guise of working for God…. These people are the modern hypocritical Pharisees. Where do Pharisees—these people come from? Do they emerge among the unbelievers? No, all of them emerge among believers. Why do these people become Pharisees? Did someone make them that way? This is obviously not so. What is the reason? It is because this is what their essence and nature are like, and this is due to the path they have taken. They use God’s words only as a tool to preach and profit from the church. They arm their minds and mouths with God’s words, they preach fake spiritual theories, and package themselves as holy, and then use this as capital to achieve the purpose of profiting from the church. They merely preach doctrines, yet have never put the truth into practice. What sort of people are those who continue to preach words and doctrines despite never having followed God’s way? These are hypocritical Pharisees. What is supposedly good behavior and good conduct, and what little they have given up and expended, are entirely forced; they are all just acts that they put on. They are entirely fake; all those actions are pretense. In these people’s hearts, there is not the slightest reverence for God, nor do they have any genuine faith in God. More than that, they are nonbelievers. If people do not pursue the truth, then they will walk this sort of path, and they will become Pharisees. Is that not frightful? The spiritual place in which the Pharisees gather become a marketplace. In God’s eyes, this is religion; it is not the church of God, nor is it a place in which He is worshiped. Thus, if people do not pursue the truth, then no matter how many literal words and superficial doctrines about God’s utterances they equip themselves with, it will be of no use” (“Six Indicators of Life Growth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s words, I was very frightened, and I was trembling inside. To make others think highly of me, I disguised myself in everything, so that everyone could see my good side. I never mentioned my shortcomings or opened up about them. I always gave people false impressions and confused my brothers and sisters. Wasn’t I the same as the Pharisees? The Pharisees interpreted the scriptures to people in the synagogue every day and stood at the crossroads and prayed. Everyone thought they loved God and were pious, and looked up to and worshiped them. But they didn’t fear God at all, nor put God above all, nor did they obey God’s commandments. Especially when theappeared and worked, they knew the words of the Lord Jesus had authority and power, but to keep their status and income, they frantically blasphemed, resisted, and condemned God’s work. Their outward good deeds were fake, things they used to disguise and conceal themselves, and though godly in appearance, they were insidious in essence and hated the truth. I remembered how the Lord Jesus cursed the Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Mat 23:27–28). Then I thought of myself. Wasn’t I the same? Since I became a gospel deacon, Outwardly, I woke up early, stayed up late, and was proactive in my duty, but these were all just illusions, a performance for others to see. I proactively performed my duty to let others know they hadn’t chosen the wrong person. When I was effective and solved the states of my brothers and sisters, I immediately sent a message to the group or told my brothers and sisters, because I wanted my leaders and others to know that I was competent and responsible in my duty. I saw that I performed my duty with my own motives and purposes. I only wanted others to think highly of me. I knew very clearly that I didn’t do any practical work, frequently showed off, and pursued status, but I didn’t mention or speak about my corruption at all. God had given me so many opportunities to open up and speak, but again and again, I didn’t practice the truth, and chose to use deception, disguise, and concealment to cheat my way through, causing my brothers and sisters to mistakenly admire me as someone who pursued the truth and fulfilled my duty responsibly. I saw that just like the hypocritical Pharisees, I brought people before myself. This was deceiving them and winning them over, and I was walking the path of resisting God. God had cursed the Pharisees. If I didn’t repent, I would also be hated and eliminated by God.
Later, I read another passage of God’s word, “You must seek the truth to resolve any problem that arises, no matter what it is, and by no means disguise yourself or put on a false face for others. Your shortcomings, your deficiencies, your faults, your corrupt dispositions—be completely open about them all, and fellowship about them all. Do not keep them inside. Learning how to open yourself up is the first step toward entering into life, and it is the first hurdle, which is the most difficult to overcome. Once you have overcome it, entering the truth is easy. What does taking this step signify? It means that you are opening your heart and showing everything you have, good or bad, positive or negative; baring yourself for others and for God to see; hiding nothing from God, concealing nothing, disguising nothing, free of deceit and trickery, and being likewise open and honest with other people. In this way, you live in the light, and not only will God scrutinize you, but other people, too, will also be able to see that you act with principle and a degree of transparency. You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will live without shackles or pain, and you will live entirely in the light. Learning how to be open when you fellowship is the first step to entering into life. Next, you need to learn to analyze your thoughts and actions to see which are wrong and which God does not like, and you need to reverse them immediately and rectify them. What is the purpose of rectifying them? It is to accept and take on board the truth, while rejecting the things within you that belong to Satan and replacing them with the truth. Before, you did everything according to your crafty disposition which is mendacious and deceitful; you felt that you could get nothing done without lying. Now that you understand the truth, and despise Satan’s ways of doing things, you no longer act that way, you act with a mentality of honesty, purity, and obedience. If you hold nothing back, if you do not put on a front, a pretense, a facade, if you lay yourself bare to the brothers and sisters, do not hide your innermost ideas and thoughts, but instead allow others to see your honest attitude, then the truth will gradually take root in you, it will blossom and bear fruit, it will yield results, little-by-little. If your heart is increasingly honest, and increasingly oriented toward God, and if you know to protect the interests of God’s house when you perform your duty, and your conscience is troubled when you fail to protect these interests, then this is proof that the truth has had an effect in you, and has become your life” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I understood from God’s word that not disguising myself or giving false impressions, being able to reveal my own corruption and shortcomings, showing my truest self, and letting my brothers and sisters see my inner heart is what it takes to be an honest person. I thought of how I had always disguised and concealed myself to make others think highly of me, and how during meetings I didn’t dare open up about my corruption. I was a deceitful person, someone God found hateful and disgusting, and living this way was tiring and painful. Once I realized this, I prayed to God, “God! I disguise myself in all things to make people look up to and admire me. I know this disgusts You. Now, I am disgusted with myself. God, I wish to practice the truth and be an honest person. Please guide me!” After I prayed, I fellowshiped about how I didn’t do real work and exposed how I engaged in disguise and deception. After the fellowship, the weight on my heart lifted, and I felt very relieved. My brothers and sisters didn’t look down on me. And my leaders didn’t rebuke or deal with me; rather, they patiently fellowshiped and guided me in how to do practical work. I realized that by practicing the truth and being an honest person, I would feel peace and security. Although my problems and shortcomings were exposed, through the fellowship and help of my brothers and sisters, I was able to change my ways in time and perform my duty better, which was beneficial for me.
After that, I consciously opened up and fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters, exposed my corrupt dispositions, and stopped disguising myself. Once, a brother sent me a message saying, “You are a gospel deacon. Why don’t you come and fellowship with the gospel targets when we preach the gospel? It seems like you ought to.” When I saw the message, I was very angry. I thought, “You’re just a group leader. What gives you the right to give me orders? It’s as if you’re interrogating me. You don’t even ask if I’m busy or whether I have time.” I answered, “Gospel work can’t depend on me alone. Everyone has to cooperate to do it.” Afterwards, I felt a little guilty, because I felt I was showing an arrogant disposition. My brother was considering our work, and was speaking the facts. I should have accepted it. I not only rejected it, I responded to him in anger. Wasn’t this just unreasonable? What I did would also make him feel hurt and constrained. I wanted to open up to him and admit my problems, but I couldn’t let go of my image. This brother had a good impression on me before. If I opened up to him, would he look down on me? Thinking of this, I realized that I wanted to disguise myself again to maintain my status and image. I prayed to God, asking Him to lead me in practicing the truth and forsaking myself. Later, I opened up about my corruption to my brother. He said he had arrogant disposition and didn’t consider my feelings when he spoke, and he wanted to change. With the guidance of God’s words, we reflected on ourselves, and practicing being an honest person made me feel especially at ease.
Through this experience, I realized that the words expressed by God in the last days can indeed purify and save people. Without the judgment of God’s word, I would always disguise and conceal myself, it would be impossible to truly understand my own corruption and shortcomings, and I wouldn’t be able to change. I am grateful to God for His guidance and salvation, and for making me realize the ease and release of practicing the truth and being an honest person.