What Lies Behind the Appearance of Busyness

June 7, 2024

By Daisy, USA

In December last year, I faced pruning for being irresponsible in doing my duties. After reflecting, I realized that during that time, my performance of my duties was indeed irresponsible. As a church leader, I only followed up on textual work and ignored all other tasks that were not directly under my responsibility or did not affect my reputation and status. Even though I could have used my time more efficiently to follow up on more work, I found it troublesome and tiring, so I was unwilling to put in extra effort. As a result, I was unaware of delays with the video tasks. I really hadn’t done real work. Seeing that God’s house did not dismiss me and gave me a chance to continue doing my duties, I thought, “I must truly repent and make up for my debt.”

Subsequently, during the day I followed up on the shooting of experiential testimony videos, and at night I reviewed documents. My schedule was packed every day. Although I had less leisure time, each day felt fulfilling. Later on, I stayed up until two or three in the morning every night and woke up around seven in the morning. At the time, I didn’t feel tired. I thought staying up late would allow me to accomplish more work, which was better than indulging in comfort as before. Later, the sisters around me noticed my frequent late nights and waxen complexion, and they reminded me to rest earlier. Another sister asked me, “You stay up so late at night and rarely rest at midday. Can you handle this day after day?” I thought to myself, “So my brothers and sisters have seen my suffering. Then enduring this hardship is worth it. At least everyone can see my repentant attitude and that I am someone who can endure suffering in the performance of duty, not someone who seeks comfort.” During that period, when I saw some sisters going to bed at eleven o’clock, I looked down on them in my heart, thinking, “This is too comfortable. You’re not anxious or in a hurry to do your duties, nor are you considerate of God’s intentions.” To show them that my attitude toward doing duties was different, I continued to stay up late and wake up early. But as the late nights continued, my body started showing adverse reactions. At around eleven or twelve o’clock every night, my heart would start pounding. I knew staying up late was harmful to the body, and God fellowshipped multiple times about maintaining a normal sleep schedule. But I started thinking, “What if I go to bed early? What would the brothers and sisters think of me? Would they say, ‘When it came time to face pruning, you could endure a little hardship and pay a little price, but over time, your true colors have been revealed, and nothing has changed’?” I didn’t want the brothers and sisters to have that impression of me. In order to maintain the image of someone who had a burden, even when I was very tired at night, I gritted my teeth and persevered. In the middle of the day, I didn’t dare take too long of a nap, fearing that the brothers and sisters would say I was indulging in the flesh. Sometimes, when I didn’t take a midday nap and felt really tired, I drank a cup of coffee to stay alert. Sometimes when I worked late into the night and saw other brothers and sisters still in the office, I intentionally made some noise to let them know that I was also burning the midnight oil. For some brothers and sisters in different time zones, when they messaged me, even if I was lying down, I would reply to them. Whenever they said, “It’s so late, and you’re still not sleeping. Get some rest!” I would feel delighted inside, thinking the brothers and sisters could see my efforts. When the upper leader eventually asked about my performance, regardless of how my work turned out, my attitude in performing duties would be deemed decent. Even if there was no achievement, there was definitely hard work. Surely, the brothers and sisters would praise my repentant behavior and see me as a leader who does real work. Thinking about these things always made me feel quite secure.

But due to staying up late for a long time, I woke up with heart palpitations every morning, and because my brain was tired, I couldn’t focus well while reviewing documents during the day. My work efficiency was low during the day, so I had to stay up late at night to get more done. Because I slept late at night, by the time I finished breakfast the next morning, it was almost eight o’clock. I wanted to do spiritual devotion but felt there wasn’t enough time, so I quickly glanced over some of God’s words, and without reflecting deeply, I started working. Writing articles became even more challenging; I felt too busy with duties to have any time at all. Later, problems started arising one after another with my duties, and that’s when I began to reflect: I intended to do my duties well, so why were there more and more problems? Why was the effectiveness of my duties diminishing? I realized that if I continued in this vicious cycle, not only would it exhaust me physically, but my work would also lack results. I needed to quickly reverse this situation.

Afterward, I pondered: I knew staying up late was bad for my health and lowered the efficiency of my duties, so why did I persist in doing this? Thinking back, I realized that during this period, I was doing things to appear a certain way in front of people. Then I thought about how God had dissected antichrists for similar behavior, so I searched for God’s words on this topic to read. Almighty God says: “Some people testify about themselves using language, and speak some words that show themselves off, while other people use behaviors. What are the manifestations of a person using behaviors to testify about themselves? On the surface, they engage in some behaviors that are rather in line with people’s notions, that attract people’s attention, and that are seen by people as quite noble and rather in conformity with moral standards. These behaviors make people think that they are honorable, that they have integrity, that they really love God, are very pious, and really possess a God-fearing heart, and that they are a person who pursues the truth. They often display some external good behaviors in order to mislead people—does this not also reek of exalting and testifying about oneself? Usually people exalt and testify about themselves by means of words, using clear speech to express how they are different from the masses and how they have wiser opinions than others, in order to make people think highly of them and look up to them. However, there are some methods that do not involve explicit speech, where people instead use external practices to testify that they are better than others. … I will give a very simple example. When some people do their duties, they seem extremely busy on the surface; they purposefully continue to work at times when others are eating or sleeping, and when others start doing their duties, they go eat or sleep. What is their aim in doing this? They want to attract attention and show everyone that they are so busy doing their duties that they have no time to eat or sleep. They think: ‘You really do not bear a burden. How are you so proactive about eating and sleeping? You good-for-nothings! Look at me, I’m working while all of you are eating, and I am still at work at night when you’re asleep. Would you be able to suffer like this? I can endure this suffering; I’m setting an example with my behavior.’ What do you think of this sort of behavior and manifestation? Are these people not doing this deliberately? Some people do these things deliberately, and what kind of behavior is this? These people want to be nonconformists; they want to be different than the masses and show people that they are busily doing their duties all night, that they are especially able to endure suffering. This way everyone will feel particularly sorry for them and show particular sympathy for them, thinking that they have a heavy burden on their shoulders, to the extent that they are up to their necks in work and too preoccupied to eat or sleep. And if they cannot be saved, then everyone will implore God for them, plead to God on their behalf, and pray for them. In doing this, these people are using good behaviors and practices that are in line with man’s notions, such as enduring hardship and paying a price, to hoodwink other people and fraudulently obtain their sympathy and praise. And what is the ultimate result of this? Everyone who has come into contact with them and seen them paying a price will all say in one voice: ‘Our leader is the most competent, the most able to endure suffering and pay a price!’ Have they not then achieved their aim of misleading people? Then one day, God’s house says, ‘Your leader does not do actual work. They busy themselves and work to no purpose; they act recklessly and they are arbitrary and dictatorial. They have made a mess of the church’s work, they have not done any of the work that they ought to, they have not performed the gospel work or the film production work, and the church life is also in disarray. The brothers and sisters do not understand the truth, they do not have life entry, and they cannot write testimony articles. The most pitiful thing is that they cannot even discern false leaders and antichrists. This kind of leader is too incompetent; they are a false leader who should be dismissed!’ Under these circumstances, will it be easy to dismiss them? It might be tough. Since the brothers and sisters all approve of them and support them, if anyone tries to dismiss this leader, the brothers and sisters will lodge a protest and put forward a request to the Above to retain them. Why will there be such an outcome? Because this false leader and antichrist uses external good behaviors such as enduring hardship and paying the price, as well as nice-sounding words, to move, buy over, and mislead people. Once they have used these false appearances to mislead people, everyone will speak for them and be unable to leave them. They clearly know that this leader has not done much actual work, and that they have not guided God’s chosen ones to understand the truth and gain life entry, but these people still support them, approve of them, and follow them, not even caring if it means they won’t gain the truth and life(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Four: They Exalt and Testify About Themselves). I saw that what God was exposing was my behavior. Ever since the upper leader pruned me for performing my duties without burden and not doing real work, I secretly resolved to repent and change. Initially, I did have some positive practice, intending to compensate for my debt with practical action. But gradually, the nature of my behavior started to change. When I stayed up late and received attention and care from the brothers and sisters, I wanted to prove to everyone through my real behavior that I had repented during this time and was willing to pay the price for my duties. If one day, the upper leader asked everyone about their evaluation of me, surely the brothers and sisters would speak positively of me, proving that I was not a slacker or an irresponsible leader. So, I tirelessly endured suffering and stayed up late, using it as a display of my loyal performance of duties, even intentionally showing off in front of the brothers and sisters. Sometimes, when I was clearly very tired and wanted to sleep, I still tried to be the last one to go to bed to highlight my “busy schedule” as a leader. Sometimes, because I stayed up late, I felt mentally exhausted and unfocused during the day; in this case, taking a nap would have been normal. However, to maintain my burdened image, sometimes I didn’t rest at midday, only when I couldn’t bear it any longer, and even then, I dared not sleep too long, fearing that everyone would think I was indulging. Staying up late at night, as long as some brothers and sisters were still awake, I wanted them to know that I was still persevering. I even messaged brothers and sisters in other countries to let more people know that I was someone willing to endure suffering for my duties, constructing an image of a hardworking person. Seeing that God exposed some people use language, saying boastful words to testify about themselves and gain high regard, and others use behaviors that align with human notions, considered noble and relatively in line with moral standards, to mislead others, making those people admire and revere them, I realized that through staying up late and suffering, I was trying to build a favorable image of myself. I wished to gain favor from everybody, and I was using this good behavior of enduring suffering and paying the price to show myself off and mislead others, which is a manifestation of antichrists. I thought about how the Pharisees were hypocrites, deliberately praying in synagogues and at street corners, and wearing sad faces when fasting. They also broadened their phylacteries and made a show of giving alms, all to display themselves and bear witness about themselves through these outward acts of good behavior. Everything the Pharisees did was to mislead and ensnare people, to establish themselves and make people revere them—the Pharisees walked the path of resisting God. Instead of focusing on the truth principles in doing my duties, I was walking a wrong path, manipulating outward appearances to mislead and gain admiration from others. How truly vile!

I continued to reflect: What aspects of corrupt disposition were hidden behind my late-night suffering? I read a passage in God’s words: “Antichrists are averse to the truth, they do not accept the truth at all—which manifestly indicates one fact: Antichrists never act according to the truth principles, they never practice the truth—which is the most blatant manifestation of an antichrist. Apart from reputation and status, and being blessed and rewarded, another thing they pursue is the enjoyment of the comforts of the flesh and of the benefits of status; and with this being the case, they naturally cause disruptions and disturbances. These facts show that what they pursue, and their behavior and manifestations are not beloved by God. And these are absolutely not the actions and behaviors of people who pursue the truth. For example, some antichrists who are like Paul have the resolve to suffer when they do their duty, they can stay up all night and go without food when doing their work, they can subdue their own bodies, can overcome any sickness and discomfort. And what is their aim in doing all this? It is to show everyone that they are capable of putting themselves aside—of self-abnegation—when it comes to God’s commission; that for them, there is only duty. They exhibit all this in front of other people. When people are around, they do not rest when they should, even deliberately extending their working hours, getting up early and going to bed late. But what about work efficiency and the effectiveness of their duty when the antichrists toil like this from morning until night? These things are beyond the scope of their considerations. They only try to do all this in front of others, so that other people can see them suffering, and see how they expend for God without any thought to themselves. As for whether the duty they do and the work they are doing is carried out according to the truth principles, they don’t think about this at all. All they think about is whether their outwardly good behavior has been seen by everyone, whether everyone is aware of it, whether they have left an impression on everyone, and whether this impression will provoke admiration and approval in them, whether these people will give them the thumbs up behind their backs and praise them by saying, ‘They really can endure hardship, their spirit of endurance and extraordinary perseverance are beyond any of us. This is someone who pursues the truth, who is able to suffer and endure a heavy burden, they are a pillar in the church.’ Hearing this, the antichrists are satisfied. In their hearts they think, ‘I was so clever to pretend like that, I was so smart to do this! I knew everyone would only look at the outside, and they like these good behaviors. I knew that if I acted like this, it would earn people’s approval, it would make them give me the thumbs up, it would make them admire me in the depths of their hearts, make them look favorably upon me, and that no one would look down on me ever again. And if a day comes when the Above discovers that I haven’t been doing real work and dismisses me, there will undoubtedly be many people who stick up for me, who cry for me, and urge me to stay, and speak on my behalf.’ They secretly rejoice over their fake behavior—and does this rejoicing not also reveal the nature essence of an antichrist? And what essence is this? (Wickedness.) That’s right—this is the essence of wickedness. Dominated by this essence of wickedness, antichrists engender a state of complacency and self-admiration which causes them to secretly clamor against and oppose God in their hearts. On the surface, they appear to pay a great price and their flesh endures much suffering, but are they truly considerate of God’s burden? Do they genuinely expend themselves for God? Can they loyally do their duty? No, they can’t. … Don’t antichrists have a wicked disposition? Behind their suffering, they harbor such ambitions and adulterations, and that’s why God detests such people and such a disposition. Antichrists, however, never see or acknowledge this fact. God scrutinizes man’s innermost heart, whereas man sees only the external appearance of man—the stupidest thing about antichrists is that they don’t acknowledge this fact, nor can they see it. And so they do all they can to use good behavior to package and glamorize themselves so that others think they can suffer and endure hardship, endure suffering which common people cannot, do work that common people cannot, so that others think they have stamina, that they can subdue their own bodies, and that they have no consideration for their own fleshly interests or enjoyment. Sometimes they’ll even intentionally wear their clothes until they’re a little dirty and not wash them, not washing them even when they begin to smell; they do whatever makes other people worship them. The more they’re in front of others, the more they do all they can to show themselves so that others see them as different from common people, that their desire to expend themselves for God is greater than that of common people, that their determination to suffer is greater than that of common people, and that their stamina for enduring suffering is greater than that of common people. Antichrists engender such behaviors in these kinds of circumstances, and behind these behaviors is the desire of the antichrists deep in their hearts for people to worship and think highly of them. And when they achieve their goal, when they hear people’s praises, and when they see people casting envious, admiring, and appreciative looks at them, that is when they feel happy and satisfied in their hearts(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Ten)). From God’s words, I saw that the disposition of antichrists is wicked. When faced with matters, they do not seek the truth principles or how to act in accordance with God’s intentions. Instead, they focus on external behaviors, disciplining their own bodies and rebelling against their flesh, using outward good conduct to mislead others. I behaved in a similar manner. After staying up late for a period of time and receiving positive feedback, with the brothers and sisters showing concern and even admiration toward me, I started to believe that my suffering and paying the price were worthwhile. To maintain my burdened image, I deliberately extended my working hours. Even when I could have rested earlier, I delayed my sleep until very late. God said antichrists only act in front of other people, concerned only with whether their actions are seen and leave a good impression on others. As for positive things, such as whether their work is effective or the efficiency in their work, they don’t consider these things at all. That’s exactly how I behaved. Recently, due to my lack of burden in the performance of my duty and the failure to do real work, I faced pruning. If I truly wanted to repent, I should have reflected on my corrupt disposition, contemplated how to improve work efficiency, and put more effort into the truth principles. Instead, I extended my working hours and stayed up late to maintain appearances. My mind was not clear while doing my duty late at night, and I felt foggy during the day, with poor concentration. Overall, my work efficiency was low. However, I did not consider whether the work of God’s house would be delayed. As long as I could establish a good image in the hearts of the brothers and sisters, it was enough for me. I used opportunities to do my duty to show myself off and gain admiration. I was working for status, not to fulfill my duties and satisfy God. My thoughts were too vile and wicked. Furthermore, I had an even more despicable idea inside me. When I was being pruned, I knew that the brothers and sisters and the upper leader were observing whether I had changed. But I thought that real work and resolving actual problems were too tiring, and there might not be immediate results, while rebelling against the flesh by staying up late was relatively simple. Even if I didn’t do my work well one day, the brothers and sisters would still speak up for me because they saw my effort, if not my accomplishments. This way, even if I were to be dismissed, it wouldn’t be too embarrassing. At least everyone would see that I could endure suffering and was willing to do good work. Reflecting on these thoughts and intentions, I felt disgusted with myself. My previous lack of actual work had already delayed tasks, and I should have been replaced. God’s house gave me an opportunity to continue practicing, but I did not repent and change. Instead, I tried to mislead others with superficial suffering, compounding my mistakes. Even if staying up late could mislead others temporarily, God scrutinizes the depths of the human heart. Packaging and embellishing myself this way would make Him feel disgust and aversion. Moreover, God measures leaders by whether or not they can do real work, not by whether they can stay up late or work long hours. No matter how long they work, if they cannot discover and resolve problems at work, fellowship the truth to help the brothers and sisters resolve difficulties in life entry, or achieve actual effectiveness in their responsibilities, then it does not qualify as actual work.

Later, I pondered again. God always required us to maintain normal sleep schedules and adhere to the body’s natural rhythms. Yet, I did not follow God’s words. I even believed that “Bend to a task and strive to do your utmost until your dying day” was something admirable. I tirelessly adhered to doing my duty like this. Where exactly was the fault in this viewpoint? I searched in God’s words about this matter. Almighty God says: “God has given you free will, the intellect of normal humanity, and the conscience and sense that a human being should possess. If you use these things well and correctly, follow the laws for survival of the physical body, properly look after your health, steadfastly do what God asks of you, and achieve what God requires you to achieve, then that is enough, and it is also very simple. Has God asked you to bend to the task and strive to do your utmost until your dying day? Has He asked you to torment yourself? (No.) God does not require such things. People should not torment themselves, but should have some common sense and properly cater to the body’s various needs. Drink water when you are thirsty, supplement your diet when hungry, rest when tired, exercise after sitting down for a long time, go to the doctor when you are sick, stick to your three meals a day, and maintain the life of normal humanity. Of course, you should also keep up your normal duties. If your duties involve some specialist knowledge that you don’t understand, you should go study and practice it. This is normal life. The various principles of practice that God puts forward for people are all things that the intellect of normal humanity can grasp, things that people can understand and accept, and which do not exceed the scope of normal humanity in the slightest. They are all within humans’ scope of attainment, and in no way overstep the bounds of what is proper. God does not require people to be superhuman or eminent people, whereas sayings about moral conduct compel people to aspire to be superhuman or eminent people. Not only must they take on the great cause of their country and nation, but they are also required to bend to the task and strive to do their utmost until their dying day. This compels them to give up their lives, which runs completely counter to God’s requirements. What is God’s attitude toward people’s lives? God keeps people safe in every situation, and guards them from falling into temptation and other dangerous predicaments, and protects their lives. What is God’s aim in doing this? It is to make people lead good lives. What is the purpose of making people lead good lives? He does not compel you to be superhuman, nor to hold everything under heaven in your heart, nor to worry about the country and the people, and much less to take His place in ruling over all things, orchestrating all things, and ruling over humankind. Rather, He requires you to assume the proper place of a created being, to fulfill the duties of a created being, to perform the duties that people should perform, and to do what people should do. There are many things which you should do, and they do not include ruling over the destiny of humankind, holding everything under heaven in your heart, or holding humankind, your native land, the church, God’s will, or His great undertaking of saving humankind in your heart. These things are not included. So what do the things that you should do include? They include the commission that God entrusts to you, the duties God gives you, and every requirement that God’s house places on you in every period. Is this not simple? Is it not easy to do? It is very simple and easy to do. But people always misunderstand God and think that He doesn’t take them seriously. There are those who think, ‘People who come to believe in God shouldn’t see themselves as being so important, they shouldn’t be preoccupied with their physical body, and should suffer more, and not go to bed too early at night, because God may be unhappy if they go to bed too early. They should get up early and go to bed late, and toil through the night performing their duty. Even if they don’t produce results, they must still stay up until two or three o’clock in the morning.’ As a result, such people drive themselves into the ground until they are so exhausted that even walking takes a supreme effort, and yet they say that performing their duties is what makes them exhausted. Is this not caused by people’s foolishness and ignorance? There are others who think, ‘God is not happy when we wear clothes that are a bit special and nice, nor is He happy that we eat meat and nice food every day. In God’s house, we can only bend to our task and strive to do our utmost until our dying day,’ and they feel that as believers in God, they must perform their duty until death, otherwise God will not spare them. Is that actually the case? (No.) God requires people to perform their duty with responsibility and loyalty, but He doesn’t compel them to be hard on their bodies, and much less does He ask them to be perfunctory, or to while away the time. I see that some leaders and workers arrange people to perform their duties in this way, not demanding efficiency but only squandering people’s time and energy. The fact is that they are wasting people’s lives. In the end, in the long run, some people develop health problems, and back trouble, and their knees hurt, and they feel dizzy whenever they look at a computer screen. How can this be? Who caused this? (They caused it themselves.) God’s house demands that everyone rests by no later than 10 p.m., but some people don’t go to bed until 11 or 12 p.m., which impacts on other people’s rest. Some people even reproach those who take normal rest, for coveting life’s comforts. This is wrong. How can you do a good job if your body is not well rested? What does God say about this? How does God’s house regulate this? Everything should be done according to God’s words and the stipulations of God’s house, and only this is correct. Some people have absurd understandings, always going to extremes, and even constraining others. This is not in line with the truth principles. Some people are just absurd fools with no discernment whatsoever, and they think that to perform their duties, they must stay up late, even when they are not busy with work, not allowing themselves to sleep when they are tired, not permitting themselves to tell anyone if they are ill, and even worse, not allowing themselves to see a doctor, which they regard as a waste of time that delays the performance of their duty. Is this point of view correct? Why do believers still come up with such absurd views after hearing so many sermons? How are the work arrangements of God’s house regulated? You must rest punctually by 10 p.m., and get up at 6 a.m., and you must ensure that you get eight hours’ sleep. In addition, it is even repeatedly emphasized that you should look after your health by exercising after work, and stick to a healthy diet and routine, so as to avoid health issues while performing your duty. But some people just don’t get it, they can’t adhere to principles or abide by rules, and stay up late needlessly and eat the wrong kind of things. Once they make themselves ill, they are unable to perform their duty, and by then it’s pointless having regrets(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (12)). From God’s words, I saw that God’s requirements for people are very practical—when hungry, eat; when tired, rest; when sick, seek medical care. God does not require people to be superhuman or to violate the normal rhythms of the body in order to do their duties. However, due to my fallacious understanding, I used to think that sleeping early was lazy, while burning the midnight oil and neglecting sleep represented loyal performance of duty. Especially when I saw that even nonbelievers pursued diligence in this way, I followed this pursuit. Since childhood, schools and society had taught us to learn from the models of hard work in society. Some of them steadfastly held their positions for dozens of hours, ultimately collapsing from overwork, and some even died suddenly at their posts. Their spirit of dedication was praised and admired by later generations. I had accepted this erroneous viewpoint and wanted to prove I had a burden for my duty through staying up late. But actually, by around eleven or twelve at night, my heart would start racing. The next morning, I would wake up with heavy-headedness and a body that felt sluggish. It took me quite a while to adjust before I could get into a working state. Because my focus was not sharp, my error rate for my duties increased, and my work efficiency was not high. And because I woke up late, I skipped spiritual devotion and went straight to work. Every day I failed to reflect on the corruption I revealed or sum up the deviations in the performance of my duty. I performed my duty in a state of laboring, without life entry, and the effectiveness of my performance grew worse. To earn others’ admiration, I spent those extra two or three hours staying up late. However, my work efficiency did not improve much, and in the long run, my health deteriorated. I realized that staying up late to prove my loyal performance of duty was the most foolish and absurd way. I also realized that the thoughts instilled in people by Satan, such as “Bend to a task and strive to do your utmost until your dying day,” “The silkworms of spring weave till they die, and candles burn out till their tears run dry,” are all harmful to people and damaging to their lives. Only God cherishes and values human life, setting normal hours for work and rest, and letting people live and work according to normal rules. There is God’s love in this. God requires people to fulfill the duty of a created being with loyalty. This loyalty isn’t about pushing our bodies to illness and exhaustion, but about doing our duties to the best of our ability, paying attention to introspecting our own corrupt disposition, seeking the truth and acting on principles. However, what I manifested was foolish loyalty, just good behavior packaged to mislead people. When I understood this, I felt more remorseful and indebted. I couldn’t keep carrying this kind of incorrect motivation into the performance of my duty.

The next day, I planned my work schedule again, going to bed and getting up early, and exercising in the morning and evening. After trying for a while, my heart palpitations and accelerated heart rate basically disappeared. In addition, getting up early in the morning, I could take time to do spiritual devotion and write experiential testimony articles; my heart was also relatively quiet. By planning time reasonably, my work efficiency improved, and my mental state also improved a lot.

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