What Lies Behind “Love”

January 17, 2022

By Chen Yang, China

Before becoming a believer, I thought “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” “Never hit people below the belt,” and “A kind word warms the coldest winter, a harsh one chills the hottest summer” were all words to live by. I never pointed out people’s shortcomings, and in word and deed I always considered others’ feelings and empathized with their difficulties. Friends and classmates all liked me and I was really pleased with myself for getting along so well with everyone. I maintained this approach even after joining the faith, never pointing out any problems I saw in brothers and sisters. Even when I saw that someone was bringing harm to the church from living within their corruption, I still wouldn’t say anything. I felt like by being tolerant, forgiving, and loving toward others, I was being a good person. That was until I was judged and chastised by God, then I saw that hidden behind my “love” were evil intentions. I saw I wasn’t a true good person at all, but I was selfish, despicable, and cunning, masquerading as a good person. It was thanks to God’s judgment and chastisement, and the guidance of His words that I learned the principles of being a good person.

It started in July 2018, when I was serving as a church leader. I found out that Sister Liu, who was working in video production, was careless in her duty and always dragged her feet, and didn’t have a sense of burden. In a gathering, I found relevant words of God and shared some simple fellowship, and she acknowledged that she was careless in her duty and said she wanted to change, but after that she was still just as sloppy as ever. At the time I thought that if she didn’t shift her attitude toward her duty, it would definitely impact the effectiveness of the work and it wouldn’t help her own life entry, either. I felt like I should expose and clearly fellowship on her state and behavior, and the nature and consequences of doing her duty that way, so she could see the seriousness of the problem and make changes in time. But then I thought, “If I bring her problems to light, will she be able to accept it? Will she say I’m lacking love and think I’m just making things hard on her? If she ends up resenting me and becomes biased against me, it’ll be hard to get along with her from then on. Forget it. I shouldn’t be so direct about it. I’ll just point it out a bit, and it’ll be enough for her to see her state. That way it won’t be so embarrassing for her, and things won’t get too awkward between us.” So I just glossed over it, saying, “If we don’t address the state of carelessness, there’s no way we can do our duty well. This opportunity to do a duty is precious, so we really need to treasure it.” She kept doing her duty inattentively, which not only held up our video production, but it also had a negative impact on other brothers and sisters. Other people started working slowly in their duty without any sense of urgency, and they didn’t want to put in any hard work to address difficulties they ran into. And when a sister pruned and dealt with her later on, she didn’t repent or change. This made me a little nervous, and I thought, “Sister Liu tends to be careless and she hasn’t made any changes. She’s not accomplishing anything in her duty. According to the principles, she should be dismissed, but if I dismiss her just like that, she might say I don’t have any love or patience, that I’m lacking humanity.” After mulling it over, I decided not to dismiss Sister Liu, but to try my best to transfer her to a different duty. That way she wouldn’t have a negative opinion of me and would still think of me as a loving person. So, with the excuse that dismissing Sister Liu would make her negative and depressed, I arranged for her to work on organizing footage needed for video production. But since she didn’t have any real understanding of herself, she became even more undisciplined and sloppy in her new duty. She even started slacking off in her devotionals and prayer. Since she didn’t take on a burden for her duty, the footage she put together was a little chaotic and had to be cleaned up by other people after she’d prepared it. One time she even accidentally erased some really important footage.

When my leader found out about it, she dealt with me for not doing my duty according to principle or practicing the truth, but protecting my own image and status, which ended up impacting the church’s work. I was crushed to hear that. It was really upsetting. I read a passage of God’s words after that that gave me some understanding of the nature of doing things that way. God’s words say, “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus causing the work of God’s house to suffer losses, and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? It is none of these; it is that you are being controlled by several kinds of corrupt dispositions. One of these dispositions is cunning. You think of yourself first, thinking, ‘If I speak up, how will it benefit me? If I speak up and displease someone, how will we get along in the future?’ This is a cunning mentality, right? Is this not the result of a cunning disposition? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? Why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. Even if I see it and hear it happen, I don’t need to do anything. It’s not my responsibility—I’m not a leader.’ Such things are inside you, as if they had sprung from your unconscious mind, and as if they occupy permanent positions in your heart—they are the corrupt, satanic dispositions of man. These corrupt dispositions control your thoughts and bind your hands and feet, and they control your mouth. When you want to say something in your heart, the words reach your lips but you do not say them, or, if you do speak, your words are roundabout, leaving you with room to maneuver—you do not speak at all clearly. Others feel nothing after hearing you, and what you have said has not resolved the problem. You think to yourself: ‘Well, I spoke up. My conscience is at ease. I’ve fulfilled my responsibility.’ In truth, you know in your heart that you have not said all you should, that what you have said has had no effect, and that the detriment to the work of God’s house remains. You have not fulfilled your responsibility, yet you say overtly that you have fulfilled your responsibility, or that what was happening was unclear to you. Is this true? And is it what you really think? Are you not then completely under the control of your satanic dispositions?(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing). I was so ashamed to see how God’s words exposed my selfish and cunning disposition. I saw that Sister Liu was careless in her duty and wasn’t changing after being criticized multiple times, but I was afraid she would say I wasn’t loving, so I just very delicately pointed out her issues to protect my image and status in her heart, and as a result, it wasn’t remotely helpful to Sister Liu, and our video production was held up. The principles required that I dismiss her from her duty, but I wanted to look like a good, loving person, so I didn’t do that. Instead, I had her preparing footage for videos, which seriously harmed the church’s work. I realized I was happy to put brothers and sisters in a bad situation and harm the church’s interests in exchange for my position in others’ hearts. How was that being a good person? That was being selfish, despicable, cunning, and wicked. How could that not disgust God? After that, we lost no time dismissing Sister Liu from her duty, and I fellowshiped with her on God’s words, exposing her consistent behavior in her duty. After some time, she gained some self-knowledge through seeking the truth, and she was able to change her state. She went back to doing her duty and was elected to be in charge of a team. When I heard the news, I was genuinely happy for her, but I also felt embarrassed and regretful. Before, I’d only cared about protecting my own face and status, not practicing the truth, which hindered her growth in life and damaged the work of God’s house. That was really evil! I knew that from then on, I couldn’t be a people pleaser at the expense of brothers and sisters and the work of God’s house. But when it came time to put the truth into practice, I still found myself held back by my corruption.

In October 2020, I realized that Sister Lin, who was on watering duty, hadn’t been getting any results because she lacked the caliber, so I was about to switch her to another duty. Then I found out that she was really arrogant, and when she disagreed with others, instead of seeking truth principles, she wanted everyone to just listen to her. I thought, “If her arrogant disposition isn’t resolved, she’ll never be able to work well with others, and she won’t do well in any duty she performs. That won’t be good for her or the work of God’s house. I should talk to her about this problem of hers and share the best fellowship I can.” But later in my fellowship with her, I said, “Since knowing you, I’ve found that you have a problem with arrogance. You don’t take others’ suggestions or work well with others, and this impacts your results in your duty. What do you think about this?” As soon as this was out of my mouth, Sister Lin said dejectedly, “Not working well with others means I won’t be good in any duty. I want to shelve my duty and reflect on myself for a while.” Hearing her say this, I thought, “She wasn’t in a very good state to begin with. If I expose and dissect her problem, will she think I’m being too harsh and intentionally targeting her? She could say I’m unfeeling and unloving. That could leave her with a bad impression of me before she goes. I won’t be too direct, but I’ll just give her some encouragement. I’ll be brief about her problem, that should be good enough. Maybe in her reflection she’ll gain some understanding and be able to change. That wouldn’t leave hard feelings, and she’d see me as a loving, tolerant church leader.” So, I switched my tone and comforted her, saying, “In fact this change of duty is also God’s love. You can keep working on yourself, and if you make some changes in your arrogance after some time, you can come back to watering duty. We have to approach this properly.” Then I found some words of God that exhort and comfort people for fellowship, and as she listened, the concern on her face disappeared. She said that from then on, she wanted to do her duty well and keep striving to do better.

I was considering that after I went home, too. I thought, “By comforting her that way, she wasn’t negative right then, but did she gain any real understanding of her own corrupt disposition? Did a change in her duty do much to motivate her, to change her? She’s moving on to another duty in a couple days. If the same problems come up again, won’t that have a direct impact on her effectiveness?” I wasn’t feeling totally at ease, so I asked Sister Fang, who I worked alongside, what she thought about it. She said, “I agree with you that Sister Lin doesn’t have a real understanding of her corrupt disposition. She doesn’t have a significant sense of regret and indebtedness for the harm she’s done to the church’s work. The moment you heard her say she didn’t want to do her duty anymore, you just comforted her but you didn’t fellowship clearly on her arrogance and the root of her inability to work well with others. That’s not going to help her with her further reflection and entry.” Sister Fang went on to say, “Over this time I’ve known you, I’ve felt like you’re a ‘nanny.’” Hearing her call me this, I really didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I wondered how she could describe me that way. Seeing the awkwardness, she rushed to explain herself: “Whenever brothers or sisters impact their duty because of the corruption, you come to soothe them, not daring to state a single fact to expose them. You’re letting them get away with things, and it’s not beneficial for their lives at all. I’ve worked with plenty of church leaders, but I’ve never seen one that’s like you …” But what she said really did pinpoint something that had always been a problem of mine, and it reminded me of some things that had happened before. Another sister had pointed this out about me before, saying, “I’ve been working with you for a while, but you’ve never mentioned any of my issues or shortcomings. You’ve never really helped me in that regard.” These two sisters’ assessments of me were really poignant, and I felt pretty guilty. I’d been working with the others for a while but I’d never provided them with anything truly helpful. Why was I always so scared to point out any of the brothers’ and sisters’ flaws? I prayed to God in seeking: “God, most of the time I don’t dare point out anyone’s problems, afraid of offending them. People can’t learn anything that way. God, I don’t want to be this kind of person, but I don’t understand the root of the problem. Please guide me to know myself and learn this lesson.”

I read a passage of God’s words exposing antichrists who cultivate goodwill after that. It was so helpful for me. God’s words say, “Some church leaders, upon seeing their brothers or sisters performing their duties carelessly and perfunctorily, do not rebuke them, though they should. When they see something that is clearly detrimental to the interests of God’s house, they turn a blind eye and make no inquiries, so as not to cause the least offense to others. Their true purpose and goal are not to show consideration for others’ weaknesses—they know full well what they intend: ‘If I keep this up and don’t cause offense to anyone, they’ll think I’m a good leader. They’ll have a good, high opinion of me. They’ll give me recognition and like me.’ No matter how much damage is done to the interests of God’s house, and no matter how greatly God’s chosen people are impeded in their life entry, or how greatly their church life is disturbed, such people persist in their satanic philosophy and cause no offense to anyone. There is never a sense of self-reproach in their hearts; at most, they might make casual mention of some issue in passing, and then be done with it. They do not fellowship the truth, nor do they point out the essence of others’ problems, and less still do they dissect people’s states. They do not lead people to enter the reality of the truth, and they never communicate what God’s will is, or the wrongs people often commit, or the sorts of corrupt disposition people reveal. They do not resolve practical problems such as these; instead, they are ever indulgent of others’ weaknesses and negativity, and even of their carelessness and perfunctoriness. They consistently let these people’s actions and behaviors go without being labeled for what they are, and, precisely because they do so, most people come to think, ‘Our leader is like a mother to us. He has even more understanding for our weaknesses than God does. Our stature may be too small to live up to God’s requirements, but we need only fulfill the requirements of our leader; by following our leader, we are following God. If a day comes when the Above replaces our leader, then we will make ourselves heard; to keep our leader and stop him being replaced by the Above, we will negotiate with the Above and force them into agreeing to our demands. This is how we will do right by our leader.’ When people have such thoughts in their hearts, when they have a dependent relationship with the leader, and in their hearts, they feel dependence, admiration, respect, and veneration toward their leader, and it is almost as if this leader has taken the place of God in their hearts, and if the leader is willing to maintain such a relationship, if the leader derives a feeling of enjoyment from it in their heart, and believes that God’s chosen ones ought to treat them like this, then there is no difference between them and Paul, and they have already set foot on the path of the antichrists(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Try to Win People Over). I realized from what God’s words revealed that antichrists don’t offend people or expose others’ corruption so they can curry favor with them and consolidate their position in others’ hearts. Wasn’t that exactly me? Generally, when I saw brothers and sisters do something that wasn’t in line with the truth, that could hurt the work of God’s house, I didn’t dare point out the essence of the problem, afraid of ruining the image they had of me as a considerate and reasonable person. That’s why I always skirted around the crux of a matter and indulged others in their corruptions and weaknesses. I was misleading people and cultivating goodwill with superficial niceness to hold on to the status I had with others. It was harmful to brothers’ and sisters’ life entry and the work of God’s house. I wasn’t helping the others but they still spoke well of me. Wasn’t that bringing brothers and sisters before me? What’s the difference between the essence of my actions and an antichrist’s? I couldn’t help but feel frightened at this realization. God had elevated me to the position of leader so that I could practice fellowshiping on the truth to resolve others’ problems and difficulties in their life entry, seek the truth and know myself in the face of issues, then repent to God, practice the truth, and submit to God. But instead, I was like a roadside bandit, using despicable means to curry favor and establish my position among the others. Wasn’t that just what an antichrist would do? I was battling with God for His people, which gravely offends His disposition! I saw how scary the essence and consequences of being a people pleaser are, and that if I didn’t turn around, I could be eliminated. When I realized this, I came before God and prayed: “Oh God, now I see that I’m not a good person at all, just someone who wants to be liked by everyone. I’m always trying to protect the image others hold of me, misleading and beguiling brothers and sisters. This is disgusting to You. God, I want to repent to You, forsake myself, and stop being a people pleaser.”

After that, Sister Fang and I talked more about Sister Lin’s issue, then went to fellowship with her and help her. We talked about her expressions of arrogance and insisting on her own opinions. We also found words of God that dealt with the dangerous consequences of living arrogantly and a path of entry and practice. She wasn’t annoyed with us after our fellowship, and she wasn’t as fragile as I had imagined, either. She said sincerely, “You two are entirely right about my problems. In the future I’ll focus on addressing my arrogant disposition….” I was so happy to hear her say this. I saw that treating people in accordance with truth principles, and bringing them before God is genuine love and kindness. I always used to think that helping brothers and sisters out of love was reminding and exhorting them, supporting and sustaining them, not being too blunt about their corruption. I thought they’d struggle to accept it and could become negative. Now I realize that truly being loving is helping to resolve others’ corruption, problems, and difficulties according to the truth and God’s words. Supporting and sustaining is one approach, but pruning and dealing with them is another. For example, sometimes when someone has some really serious corruption in a certain aspect and they don’t change after lots of fellowship, the essence, root, and severity of the consequences need to be dissected according to God’s words so that they have to come before God to reflect and know themselves. Then ultimately they can truly repent. That’s the only way to get results. My so-called love for others was based on a worldly philosophy and it carried my own despicable motives. I just wanted to protect the image others held of me. I wasn’t taking on any responsibility for brothers’ and sisters’ lives—there was no chance of being truly loving. I was so ashamed when I realized this and I became ready to correct my faulty practices.

Then I started thinking about why it was so hard for me to say a single honest word when I discovered others’ faults and corruption, and I needed to practice the truth, to expose them. It was as if my mouth was sealed shut, and there was no way for me to open it. Sometimes something would be on the tip of my tongue, then I’d swallow it and say something tactful. Every time I said something that wasn’t in line with reality I felt really disgusted, that what I felt and what I said were totally out of sync. I was being fake nice with brothers and sisters, but I just couldn’t practice the truth. I read a couple passages of God’s words later that showed me the root of the problem. Almighty God says, “You are all well-educated. You all pay attention to being refined and understated in your speech, as well as to the manner in which you speak: You are tactful, and have learned not to do damage to the self-respect and dignity of others. In your words and actions, you leave people room to maneuver. You do everything you can to put people at ease. You do not expose their scars or shortcomings, and you try not to hurt them or embarrass them. Such is the principle by which most people act. And what kind of principle is this? It is conniving, slippery, treacherous, and insidious. Hidden behind people’s smiling faces are a lot of malicious, insidious, and despicable things. … And so, are people’s words dependable? Are they trustworthy? People are too unreliable and untrustworthy, and that’s because their lives, and actions, and words, their every deed and inmost thought, is based on their satanic nature, satanic essence and corrupt disposition of Satan(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Six Indicators of Life Growth). “There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their conduct and behavior. For example, their philosophies for living, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are all filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. Thus, all things that flow through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan. All of those officials, those who hold power, and those who are accomplished have their own paths and secrets to success. Are such secrets not perfectly representative of their nature? They have done such big things in the world, and no one can see through the schemes and intrigues that lay behind them. This shows just how insidious and venomous their nature is. Mankind has been profoundly corrupted by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and it can be seen that man’s nature is corrupt, evil, and reactionary, filled by and immersed in the philosophies of Satan—it is, in its entirety, a nature that betrays God. This is why people resist God and stand in opposition to God(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). I learned from what God’s words revealed that not daring to expose brothers’ and sisters’ corruption was because of the control and harm of satanic poisons. I thought about things like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” “Never hit people below the belt,” “A kind word warms the coldest winter, a harsh one chills the hottest summer,” and “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation,” that I’d lived by these satanic philosophies. I was always maintaining my own face and status. After gaining my faith, I kept living by these laws of Satan, handling my relationships with kid gloves, not offending anyone, thinking that I could establish myself this way and stake a place for myself in others’ hearts. I was controlled by these poisons of Satan, and in the face of problems I was constantly weighing risks and benefits, considering my name and status. If I realized there was a chance of doing harm to my personal image, I’d put the interests of God’s house to the side and protect my own interests. I even claimed to be trying to prevent others from becoming negative, misleading people to think I was being loving and responsible. I saw how selfish and cunning it was of me to live by these satanic philosophies. I was one way to people’s faces, but felt another way. I didn’t face God with an honest heart, and I wasn’t even remotely genuine toward brothers and sisters. I was being demonic. I was doing harm to others and the work of God’s house. I’d been a believer for years and had read God’s words, but I wasn’t practicing truth principles in my interactions, and I wasn’t upholding the church’s work. I was putting Satan’s fallacies and lies into practice, biting the hand that fed me, wallowing in the mire with Satan. Wasn’t I one of those who believe in God but resist Him? If I didn’t change, I knew I would disgust God and be punished by Him. At this realization, I resolved that I would no longer live by these satanic philosophies, but in the face of problems I would consciously practice the truth.

A couple months later, I learned that Sister Zhao, who was on hosting duty, had developed a barrier between her and some others because of a few petty things. When someone did something she didn’t like, she would get an attitude with them, which felt constraining for the others. It had impacted some of them in their duty, and she needed fellowship right away. Sister Fang asked me if I wanted to handle it, and I thought, “I’ve known Sister Zhao for five years now. She’s had a pretty good impression of me, so if I expose her as arrogant and of poor humanity, will she get mad at me? Wouldn’t that ruin our relationship? Maybe Sister Fang should go on her own.” But then I remembered a passage of God’s words: “There must be a standard for having good humanity. It does not involve taking the path of moderation, not sticking to principles, endeavoring not to offend anyone, currying favor everywhere you go, being smooth and slick with everyone you meet, and making everyone feel good. This is not the standard. So what is the standard? It includes treating God, other people, and events with a true heart, being able to take responsibility, and doing all this in a way that is evident for everyone to see and feel. Moreover, God searches people’s hearts and knows them, each and every one(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth). Having good humanity doesn’t mean always being easygoing and getting along with everyone, but it means being able to accept God’s scrutiny in your words and actions, being able to practice the truth and be an honest person. It is approaching both God and brothers and sisters with a true heart. Only this is truly good humanity. I reflected: Was I treating brothers and sisters with love? Was I practicing the truth? I knew Sister Zhao didn’t see her own problem, and having a barrier and hard feelings with others is painful. If I pretended not to see it but acted totally nice and pandering, wouldn’t that be living by a slippery, crafty satanic disposition? At this thought, I prayed to God: “Oh God, I’m a people pleaser and really lacking humanity. I see a sister living within corruption and toyed with by Satan, but I’m turning a blind eye. That’s not actually loving. God, I want to forsake myself and no longer live by my cunning disposition, but to open up in fellowship to help Sister Zhao with the problem I see. Please guide me.” During our fellowship, I brought in some of God’s words to point out how her arrogance was expressed and her lack of humanity, and I fellowshiped on the dangerous consequences of carrying on like that. She could see that she was arrogant and that she always wanted to do things her own way, which was constraining for brothers and sisters. She also said that that kind of fellowship was really helpful for her. I’m so grateful to God guiding me to break free of the strictures of my corruption, and for experiencing that practicing the truth and living by God’s words is the only way to truly show love to brothers and sisters. This is the only above-board, relaxing way to live.

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