Why Do I Always Act Out of Emotion?
By Xiao Han, China
Some time ago, my supervisor assigned Sister Xiang Zhen to make videos with us. Xiang Zhen is fairly outgoing and I felt a kind of closeness with her from the first time we met. She’s a bit older than me and she was pretty caring toward me, just like an older sister. When I revealed corruption, she would also point it out to help me. At the time, I was having some friction with my partner, Sister Ding Yi. I felt that Ding Yi was a bit overbearing and spoke too bluntly. Sometimes her words would wound my pride. Partnered with her, I felt like I didn’t even exist, and like I wasn’t valued. I enjoyed partnering with Xiang Zhen much more. She wouldn’t say hurtful things and even if she did point out my problems, she would say it in a way I could accept. Also, when Xiang Zhen encountered issues, she would come to me right away, and was willing to share with me whatever state she was in. This made me feel valued and noticed. One time, Xiang Zhen noticed that Ding Yi had misunderstood me and she helped clear things up. After that, I felt even more that she was understanding and reasonable. I was willing to share more with her and we grew closer. But after doing her duty here for over a month, Xiang Zhen’s work still hadn’t improved much. Our leaders advised her to put more effort into her work and also had Ding Yi and I inspect the video she was making and submit it only after editing. It ended up taking us an entire day to edit her video. Given we had made so many changes to the video, I wondered: “If the leaders see how many problems there are, will they think Xiang Zhen’s not fit to be cultivated and reassign her? Since Xiang Zhen came, she’s been so happy to help me, whether it’s been with life entry stuff or general life. I really enjoy my time with her. If she leaves, I’ll have one less person I can confide in. What’s more, won’t she be upset if she’s reassigned after doing her duty here for less than two months? I’d better not forward her version to the leaders.” Later on, Ding Yi found out and reminded me, saying: “We should forward Xiang Zhen’s version of the video to the leaders. That way they can have a clear understanding of how she’s doing.” I felt a bit guilty when she said that, thinking: “If it had been anyone else, I would have sent the unedited version to the leaders without hesitating. But I treated Xiang Zhen differently. Wasn’t I protecting and favoring her? That’s not in keeping with God’s will.” I thought of (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How Is Your Relationship With God?). God asks that we set the right intentions in our words and actions, and not harbor and protect others out of emotion. This is the very least that any believer should do. If I wasn’t honest with my leaders, but started to harbor and protect people in the church, this was a very serious problem. Realizing this, I felt a bit scared. I couldn’t act out of emotion, and shouldn’t harbor and protect those I got along well with. I had to do what had to be done. So, I forwarded Xiang Zhen’s version of the video to the leaders. But afterward, I didn’t reflect and come to know myself, and because I didn’t recognize the root of my issues, I made the same mistakes again.which say: “In all you do and all you say, be able to set your heart right and be righteous in your actions, and do not be led by your emotions, nor act according to your own will. These are principles by which believers in God must conduct themselves”
Soon after, our leaders had us write an evaluation of Xiang Zhen’s performance. They wanted to know if she was suited for video production and if she was a good candidate for cultivation. I felt a bit conflicted: Xiang Zhen really hadn’t made much progress, but if I made an honest evaluation, she might be reassigned. That would be really upsetting for her. If I didn’t help her in this crucial moment, we wouldn’t be able to partner anymore. Just as I was thinking this all over, Ding Yi said to me: “Xiang Zhen really doesn’t have good caliber and her videos aren’t up to par. If she had better caliber, she would have made some progress the past month or two….” The more I heard, the angrier I got: “Why do you keep harping on Xiang Zhen’s inadequacies? Is it because you think it will be too much work to train her and so you’d rather she be reassigned?” So I replied testily: “Nothing you said was wrong, but you didn’t mention any of her strengths. We should evaluate her objectively and fairly. We can’t just mention her weaknesses. Xiang Zhen might not have good caliber, but she hasn’t made zero progress like you said. If you point out some small issues with her, she can still improve on them.” Seeing that I was a bit resistant, Ding Yi didn’t say anything else. There was kind of an awkward atmosphere. Realizing I had shown my temper, I felt a bit guilty: “What is wrong with me? Why did I become so resistant as soon as Ding Yi brought up Xiang Zhen’s issues? The issues Ding Yi brought up were real—she wasn’t twisting the facts. So why did I get upset? Am I acting based on emotion?” So, I calmed myself down and let Ding Yi continue speaking. After some discussion, we concluded that Xiang Zhen was still not familiar with some principles and recommended she be allowed to continue training for a while. Even after we finished discussing Xiang Zhen, I was still caught up in that moment when I’d shown my temper with Ding Yi. I thought to myself: “I got upset as soon as she said something bad about Xiang Zhen. Am I harboring and protecting her? Last time, I let my emotions dictate my actions, not wanting to give her video to the leaders. Now I’m acting that way again. I must seek the truth to resolve this issue.”
In my seeking, I came across these passages. “What are emotions, in essence? They are a kind of corrupt disposition. The manifestations of emotions can be described using several words: favoritism, over-protectiveness, maintenance of physical relationships, partiality; these are what emotions are” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Reality of the Truth?). “Are you sentimental toward those who are close to you, or who share similar interests? Would your evaluation, definition, and response to their actions and behavior be impartial and objective? And how would you react if principle dictated that the church take measures against someone who you have an emotional connection with, and these measures were at odds with your own notions? Would you obey? Would you secretly continue to liaise with them, would you still be inveigled by them, would you even be prompted by them to make excuses for them, to rationalize and defend them? Would you fall on your sword for and come to the aid of those who have been kind to you, oblivious to the principles of the truth and heedless of the interests of God’s house? This all involves various issues to do with emotions, does it not?” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “If people lack reverence for God, and if God has no place in their hearts, then they can never act on principle no matter what duties they are fulfilling or what problems they are dealing with. People living within their intentions and selfish desires are incapable of entering the reality of the truth. For this reason, if they encounter a problem, and they do not cast a critical eye over their intentions and cannot recognize where their intentions are erroneous, but instead they use all kinds of justifications to manufacture lies and excuses for themselves, what happens in the end? They do quite a good job of protecting their own interests, reputation, and interpersonal relationships, but they have lost their normal relationship with God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Attitude Man Should Have Toward God). Through reading God’s words, I realized that favoritism and maintaining relationships are all due to affections, and are corrupt dispositions. As for my own behavior, I favored Xiang Zhen because she looked after and cared for me, and whenever she had a question, she would come to me first, which stroked my ego. So when I noticed there were a lot of problems in her video, I didn’t want to notify our leaders. Also, when Ding Yi highlighted Xiang Zhen’s inadequacies, I couldn’t accept it and even angrily defended Xiang Zhen and tried to cover over her deficiencies. Wasn’t I letting my emotions dictate my actions? I knew that Xiang Zhen hadn’t made any progress, but I wouldn’t let Ding Yi speak the truth, and tried to quibble with her, saying she hadn’t made no progress at all. In reality, the church’s principle on cultivating people centers around evaluating if they have caliber, talent or potential and if they are up to the task at hand. So saying that Xiang Zhen had made a little progress didn’t really mean anything. I was just saying this to cover over her inadequacies and cloud people’s judgment. Thinking back on things with Xiang Zhen recently, I saw that there was a motive behind what I’d done and said—I wanted Xiang Zhen to stay, so that she could continue looking after me, and my ego and sense of status would be satisfied. Speaking on her behalf was not based on seeking principles or practicing God’s words. I didn’t consider what course of action would be best for the church’s work, instead letting my selfish, despicable motives dictate my words and actions. If the church used the wrong person due to my misguidance, wouldn’t that be delaying the church’s work? I prioritized my private emotions over the principles of truth and the church’s work. God seemingly held no place in my heart.
Later on, I came across these words of God: “God does not moderate; He is untainted by human ideas. For Him, one is one and two is two; right is right and wrong is wrong. There is no ambiguity” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only With True Obedience Can One Have Genuine Faith). “Even though God loves people, He does not pamper them. He gives people His love, His mercy, and His tolerance, but He has never coddled them; God has His principles and His limits” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VII). Through God’s words, I realized that God’s disposition is holy and righteous. God treats people according to principle and isn’t sentimental toward anyone. Take, for instance, David, the king of Israel. His greatest hope in life was to build a temple that the people could in. David was someone who heeded God’s will, but when he committed adultery, God didn’t favor or harbor him. God disciplined and punished him, and the sword never departed from his house. Through this, we can see that God treats all people fairly and justly, whereas I treated people based on emotions and preferences. I would favor and harbor whoever I got along with and served my interests. I was willing to interact more with and even protect people I liked without principle. When Ding Yi evaluated Xiang Zhen based on principle, I even got upset, making her hesitant to continue speaking. God despises such behavior! In the secular world, everything is based on relationships, but God’s house is different—God bids us to treat people fairly based on principle, calling a spade a spade. Acting in this way is candid and upright and puts the mind at ease.
Later, while reflecting on why I always let emotions dictate what I said and did, I came across these passages. “In our everyday lives, we often emphasize the interests of God and of God’s house. However, some people often tend not to consider the interests of God’s house, instead placing their own interests front and center in all things. These people are particularly selfish. Furthermore, in their handling of affairs, they frequently safeguard their own interests to the detriment of the interests of God’s house, to the extent that they will even make oblique requests of God’s house in order to satisfy their own desires. What is the key word here? What is principally being spoken about? (Interests.) What is meant by ‘interests’? What is included within this term? What do people consider to be the interests of man? What is encompassed by the interests of man? Status, reputation, and things that relate to material interests. For instance, when a person misleads others into admiring and worshiping them, they are pursuing their own psychological interests; there are also material interests, which people pursue by taking advantage of others, reaping benefits for themselves, or stealing the property of God’s house, to give a few examples. Antichrists always put their own profit first. No matter if they are pursuing psychological or material interests, antichrists are avaricious and insatiable, and they will try to take these things all for themselves. Matters concerning a person’s interests reveal them most of all. Interests are intimately linked to every person’s life, and everything a person comes into contact with every single day involves their interests” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). “The problem with people pursuing their own interests is that the goals they pursue are the goals of Satan—they are goals that are wicked and unjust. When people pursue personal interests such as prestige and status, they unwittingly become a tool of Satan, they become a channel for Satan, and, moreover, they become an embodiment of Satan. They play a negative role in the church; toward the work of the church, and toward the normal church life and normal pursuit of God’s chosen people, the effect they have is to disturb and impair; they have an adverse and negative effect” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). After being corrupted by Satan, our natures became selfish and despicable. There is a selfish motive behind everything we say and do—it’s all done to protect our personal interests. When we speak and act with selfish motives, we unwittingly serve as Satan’s lackeys, disturbing and disrupting the church’s work. Reflecting on my behavior, I saw that because Xiang Zhen would often show concern for and look after me, I enjoyed a feeling of convenience and my desire for status was met. If she left, I would lose all these benefits, so I didn’t want the leaders to reassign her. I didn’t treat her according to principle, instead, first considering my personal interests. The leaders asked us to write an evaluation of Xiang Zhen to decide whether she needed to be reassigned according to principle, to improve church work efficiency and get the most out of every member. But I didn’t consider the church’s work, thinking only of how to satisfy my desire for status. I not only didn’t protect the church’s work, I was also deceptive and tried to keep the leaders from finding out about Xiang Zhen’s actual situation. In truth, Xiang Zhen wasn’t suited for video production, but if I insisted on keeping her on, she would not only fail to get results, we would also have to spend a lot of time editing her videos—the losses outweighed the gains. I realized the importance of acting according to principle as God demands—this was beneficial for church members and the church’s work. Letting emotions dictate our actions only disturbs and disrupts church work and I knew I couldn’t keep acting based on emotions.
Soon after that, Xiang Zhen made another video. As I went through it, I kept wondering why after training for two months, her video still contained so many issues. Now that the leaders were observing Xiang Zhen to see if she was right for the role, if I were to flag all her errors, she might be reassigned. I considered flagging fewer of her errors. But then I thought about how I had treated her based on emotion before, and shouldn’t go down that road again. I had to flag all her issues based on the objective facts, so that the leaders could determine if she was suited to the role based on principle. Just then, I recalled a passage of God’s words I’d read before: “And what is fearing God and shunning evil? When you give your appraisal of someone, for example—this relates to fearing God and shunning evil. How do you appraise them? (We must be honest, just, and fair, and our words must not be based on emotion.) When you say exactly what you think, and exactly what you have seen, you are being honest. And above all, the practice of being honest means following the way of God. This is what God teaches people; this is the way of God. … If you did not tell the truth, would it be of use for you to stress that you are following God’s way and satisfying God? Would God pay heed to your shouting? Would God pay heed to how you shout, how hard you shout, or how great your will is? Would He pay heed to how many times you shout? He would not. God looks at whether you practice the truth, at what you choose and how you practice the truth when events befall you. If your choice is to maintain relationships, to maintain your own interests and image, and is entirely for self-preservation, God will see that this is your viewpoint and attitude when an event befalls you, and He will make an appraisal of you: He will say you are not someone who follows His way” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God asks us to fear Him and shun evil, and to be honest in everything we face, large or small. Evaluating someone might not seem like a big deal, but it can reveal whether someone has reverence for God, and can show if someone is honest and trustworthy. Even though I still didn’t have reverence for God, I was willing to practice His words and be reliable and trustworthy in word and deed. I prayed to God, saying: “God, I don’t want to act on emotion anymore, I want to act with reverence for You in my heart.” So I flagged all of the errors that I found in Xiang Zhen’s video. Just a few days after, she was indeed reassigned. Even though I was a bit upset, when I thought about how this would be beneficial for the church’s work and her personally, I felt a bit more at ease.
Before, I thought my affections were just passing thoughts, or passing feelings, and as long as I didn’t clearly violate principle or cause damage to the church’s work, then it wasn’t a big deal and I didn’t need to seek the truth to resolve it. Actually, I had the wrong idea. Despite outwardly conforming to the rules and not committing obvious sin, inwardly, I couldn’t suppress my ideas, beliefs and satanic disposition. If I didn’t seek the truth and resolve this issue, I would inevitably cause disruption. So identifying my ideas and corruption, seeking the truth and reflecting on myself are all very important. This is the road to dispositional transformation.