Why I Became So Arrogant and Self-Righteous
By Mu Tong, Japan
In 2017, the church arranged for me to water foreign newcomers. Because I had some expertise in foreign languages, and I had watered newcomers before, I didn’t think this job was too difficult. But I knew that doing my duty in God’s house wasn’t merely about having special skills. I also had to understand the truth and act according to principles. So, at first, I was fairly humble. I always reminded myself to pray more and rely on God when things happened, and when I didn’t understand things, I consulted and sought with others. After a period of time, I saw some results from my work. Some newcomers who didn’t come to gatherings regularly started actively attending, and were willing to perform their duties. I also trained some newcomers who became church leaders and group leaders. This made me very happy, and I felt I had some talent at this work. Later, everyone who had difficult problems came to communicate with me, and the views I put forward were often adopted. Gradually, I started to appreciate myself. I felt that both in terms of foreign language and in watering, I was the most capable in the group. Shortly after that, I was selected as a supervisor, which made me think even more that I had extraordinary mental caliber and work abilities. Without realizing it, I started to become arrogant. No matter what problems arose, I felt that they were simple, and I directly did whatever I thought best. I didn’t pray and seek, and I didn’t consult with others. Once, there was a problem in our work, and my partner sister said she wanted to seek the principles. I was very disdainful, and said to my sister with a frown, “It’s such a simple problem. You just need to contemplate a little and you’ll figure it out. Seeking principles is a little superfluous, isn’t it?” After that, she spoke very carefully with me. During that time, some brothers and sisters also said that I was too arrogant, but I didn’t care at all. I felt that I was a bit arrogant, but everyone has problems. Besides, how can someone with a little mental caliber not be arrogant? I didn’t think it was a big problem. Once, I wanted a newcomer to practice as a group leader. My leader felt this newcomer had believed too short a time, had no foundation, and couldn’t do the job. I was very resistant after hearing this, and I thought, “Never mind that you’re the leader, you don’t understand the newcomer as well as I do. If I had as many concerns as you, when would we ever finish training newcomers?” I found all kinds of reasons to refute the leader’s thinking. After that, the newcomer was directly promoted to a group leader. It didn’t take long for her to feel that the job was too stressful, become negative, and nearly quit her duty. At that time, I was also very sad. I regretted not listening to my leader’s advice. But then I thought, “No one is perfect, who does his duty without deviation? I’ll just try to do better next time.” Afterwards, my leader also exposed and dealt with me for being too arrogant, saying it was dangerous to go on like this. At the time, it was a little uncomfortable to hear, but I had no knowledge of myself.
Later, Sister Ye and I worked together to supervise church work. She was more careful and serious in her work, and focused on seeking the principles of truth. When we discussed and made decisions about work, she repeatedly investigated and confirmed things before deciding. However, I thought she wasn’t efficient enough, so I began to despise her. After that, I made many decisions by myself, and didn’t take her seriously at all. Once, the church needed to buy some items, and because this involved spending offerings, my leader repeatedly told me to discuss it with my partner. I promised to do it, but I thought, “These things aren’t too difficult, and I’ve done it before. I can do this alone. Why do I need my partner?” When my partner sent a message asking me for some details about my purchases, without thinking, I replied that I had made arrangements and she didn’t have to worry about it. The result was that the items I purchased weren’t up to standard, and the offerings were wasted. At that time, I was in a panic. I realized that wasting offerings was a great transgression. Could God ever forgive me? I felt like a heavy stone was pressing down on my heart, so that I couldn’t breathe. I often cried in secret, and every day was very depressing and painful. My state was getting worse, my duty was getting harder, and I couldn’t see many problems clearly.
Later, the leader fellowshiped with me, and exposed and dealt with me, saying that my disposition was too arrogant and self-righteous, that I acted arbitrarily in my duty, that I didn’t cooperate with others or listen to other people’s suggestions, and that I wasn’t fit to be a supervisor. After being dismissed, I was miserable. I prayed to God, “God, I don’t know how I got to such a low point. I know there is Your will behind my dismissal, but I don’t know the source of my failure. Please enlighten me and help me properly reflect on myself.” During my devotionals, I watched a video of. “Some people never seek the truth while performing their duty. They merely do as they please, acting according to their own imaginings, and are ever arbitrary and rash, and they simply do not walk the path of practicing the truth. What does it mean to be ‘arbitrary and rash’? It means, when you encounter an issue, to act however you see fit, with no thought process, or any process for searching. Nothing anyone else says can touch your heart or change your mind. You can’t even accept it when the truth is fellowshiped to you, you stick to your own opinions, not listening when other people say anything right, believing yourself right, and clinging to your own ideas. Even if your thinking is correct, you should take other people’s opinions into consideration as well, right? And if you don’t at all, is this not being extremely self-righteous? It is not easy for people who are extremely self-righteous and wayward to accept the truth. … If your attitude is to stubbornly insist, to deny the truth, to reject anyone else’s suggestions, to not seek the truth, to only have faith in yourself, and to only do as you want—if this is your attitude regardless of what God does or asks, then what is God’s reaction? God pays you no heed, He sidelines you. Are you not wayward? Are you not arrogant? Do you not always think you’re right? If you are devoid of obedience, if you never seek, if your heart is utterly closed and resistant to God, then God pays you no heed. Why does God pay you no heed? Because if your heart is closed to God, can you accept God’s enlightenment? Can you feel it when God reproaches you? When people are intransigent, when their satanic and barbaric natures are in play, they don’t feel anything God does, it is all to no avail—so God does not do useless work. If you have this kind of stubbornly antagonistic attitude, all that God does is to remain hidden from you, God will not do superfluous things. When you are this stubbornly antagonistic, and this closed, God would never forcibly do anything in you, or force anything upon you, He would never keep trying to move and enlighten you, over and over again—God does not act in this way. Why does God not act thus? Mainly because God has seen a certain kind of disposition in you, a beastliness that is sick of the truth and impervious to reason. And do you think people can control a wild animal when its beastliness is in play? Does shouting and screaming at it do anything? Is reasoning with it or offering it comfort of any use? Do people dare to approach it? There is a good way of describing this: It is impervious to reason. When people’s beastliness is in play and they are impervious to reason, what does God do? God pays them no heed. What more does God have to say to you when you are impervious to reason? Saying any more is useless. And when God pays you no heed, are you blessed, or do you suffer? Do you gain some benefit, or suffer a loss? You will undoubtedly suffer loss. And who caused this? (We caused it.) You caused it. No one forced you to act like this, and yet you still feel upset. Did you not bring this upon yourself? God pays you no heed, you cannot feel God, there is darkness in your heart, your life is compromised—and you brought this upon yourself, you deserve it!” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, Part Three). God’s word revealed my state, especially where it says, “Are you not wayward? Are you not arrogant? Do you not always think you’re right? If you are devoid of obedience, if you never seek, if your heart is utterly closed and resistant to God, then God pays you no heed.” “God pays you no heed, you cannot feel God, there is darkness in your heart, your life is compromised—and you brought this upon yourself, you deserve it!” Reading this made me poignant, as if God was exposing me face to face. I did my duty so arrogantly and arbitrarily. Because I understood a foreign language and was somewhat effective in this duty, I felt I had good caliber and abilities. When I was selected as a supervisor, I felt that I was very capable, so I began to look down on and despise others, and I didn’t take anyone else seriously. When I had problems in my work, I rarely discussed them with others and did whatever I wanted to do. When my brothers and sisters raised different suggestions, I didn’t receive them from God. Instead, my attitude was, “Do you understand this better, or do I?” Even if what others said was correct, I didn’t accept it. Instead, I resisted, rejected, and refuted them with all kinds of excuses. As a result, everything was done my way, which meant brothers and sisters were constrained. They always worried about what I would think and couldn’t get along with me normally. But even then, I didn’t reflect on myself. When I was in charge of church work, I acted arbitrarily and without principles, which caused offerings to be wasted. My disposition was too arrogant. No matter what others said, I didn’t listen. I was as unreasonable as a stubborn donkey. My behavior and attitude were disgusting to God, and I couldn’t get the work of the Holy Spirit at all. Everything I did caused disturbance and disruption. When I saw the evil I had done, I couldn’t help but want to slap myself. I hated myself for being so self-righteous. Why couldn’t I listen to other people’s advice? Now the consequences had come, and it was useless to regret it.
Later, I started to focus on reflecting on my problems. As I sought, I read some of God’s words that gave me a new understanding of myself.says, “Arrogance and self-righteousness is the most obvious satanic disposition of people, and if they do not accept the truth, there is no way they can be cleansed. People have arrogant and self-righteous dispositions, they always believe they’re right, and in all that they think, say, and have opinions on, they always believe that their own view and mindset is correct, that nothing anyone else says is as good or right as what they say. They always stick to their own opinions, and do not listen to whatever anyone else says; even when what other people say is right, and in line with the truth, they don’t accept it, they merely seem to be listening, but don’t take anything in. When the time comes to act, they still go their own way; they always think they are right and justified. You might be right, and justified, or you might be doing the right thing, without issues, but what is the disposition you reveal? Isn’t it arrogance and self-righteousness? If you are unable to shed this arrogant and self-righteous disposition, will this affect your performance of your duty? Will it affect your ability to put the truth into practice? If you cannot resolve this kind of arrogant and self-righteous disposition, are you likely to encounter great setbacks in the future? There is no doubt that you will, this is inevitable. Can God see these things manifested in people? He can, extremely well; God not only surveys man’s innermost being, but is also always watching their every utterance and action. And what will God say once He sees these things manifested in you? God will say, ‘You are intransigent! Sticking to your guns when you do not know you are wrong is understandable, but if you still stick to your guns when you know full well that you are wrong, and refuse to repent, then you are a stubborn old fool, and you are in trouble. If, no matter whose suggestion it is, you react with a negative and antagonistic attitude, and do not accept the truth at all—if, in your heart, there is nothing but antagonism, closedness, refusal—then you are ridiculous, an absurd fool! You are too difficult to deal with.’ What about you is so difficult to deal with? What is difficult about you is that your behavior is not a mistaken way of doing things or a mistaken kind of conduct, but rather that it reveals a certain kind of disposition. What kind of disposition does it reveal? You are sick of the truth and you regard the truth with hatred. Once you have been defined as regarding the truth with hatred, then as God sees it, you are in trouble; God spurns you, and pays you no heed. … A person who looks on the truth with hatred would in their heart look on God with hatred. Why do I say they look on God with hatred? Did this person curse God? Did they oppose Him to His face? Did they pass judgment on or condemn Him behind His back? Not necessarily. So why is it said that to reveal such a disposition—a disposition of hatred toward the truth—is to hate God? This is not making a mountain out of a molehill; this is fact. Like the hypocritical Pharisees nailing the to the cross because they hated the truth, the consequences when this plays out are dire. That is to say, when a person has the disposition of being sick of the truth and hostile to the truth, then they are capable of revealing this kind of disposition at any time and in any place, and if they go on living in a state of reliance on it, will they or will they not oppose God? When they meet with an issue involving the truth, involving the choices they make, if they cannot accept the truth but go on living in a state of reliance on their corrupt disposition, then they will naturally oppose God and betray Him. That is because this kind of corrupt disposition is none other than a disposition that looks on God, and on the truth, with hatred” (“Only by Often Living Before God Can One Have a Normal Relationship With Him” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Only after reading God’s words did I realize my disposition was not only arrogant, what was more serious was that I was weary of the truth, hated the truth, and hated God. So many brothers and sisters gave me advice, and my leader pruned and dealt with me, but I turned a deaf ear and didn’t reflect on myself at all. Many times God used the facts to refute me and show me that what I insisted on was wrong. I did nothing but disrupt and disturb the work, yet I still didn’t reflect on myself and went my own way. Sometimes, when my brothers and sisters gave me advice, I clearly felt that it was right and in line with the principles of truth, but I still disobeyed and denied, and I was stubborn to the extreme. Wasn’t this the satanic disposition of being weary of the truth and hating the truth? God says, “Once you have been defined as regarding the truth with hatred, then as God sees it, you are in trouble.” “A person who looks on the truth with hatred would in their heart look on God with hatred.” This was even more upsetting to me. God’s disposition is righteous and holy, and God’s attitude toward people is based on our attitude toward the truth and toward God. The truth is God’s expression, but what I expressed was the disposition of being weary of and hating the truth. Wasn’t this hatred of God? No matter what a person’s corrupt disposition may be, as long as they can accept the truth, nothing is impossible to fix, and they all have the chance to change and be saved by God. But if the essence of a person’s nature is to be weary of the truth and hate the truth, then they are God’s enemy. How can God’s enemies be saved? I thought of all the antichrists who were expelled from the church. It was because they hated and didn’t accept the truth at all, and were finally revealed and cast out.
I was very afraid, and for a long time after that, I lived in a state of self-blame. Every time I thought about the harm I caused in the work, it hurt like a knife in my heart, so I prayed to God, “God, this failure is too painful for me, but without such failure, I would have no idea that my corrupt disposition was so serious, and I would be even more unaware that I was on the brink of danger. I don’t want to live by my corrupt disposition anymore. Please guide me in being a person who accepts the truth and who can focus on practicing the truth in my duty in the future.”
Later, I often wondered, “What is it that makes me so arrogant? How can I resolve this corrupt disposition?” During my devotionals, I saw two passages of God’s word that suddenly enlightened me. God’s words say, “People who are gifted and have special talents think they are very clever, that they understand everything—but they do not know that gifts and special talents do not represent the truth, that these things have no connection to the truth. The thoughts and opinions of people whose behavior is determined by their gifts and imaginings often run contrary to the truth—but they can’t see this, they still think, ‘See how clever I am; I’ve made such smart choices! Such wise decisions! None of you can match me.’ They forever live in a state of narcissism and self-appreciation. It is hard for them to quiet their hearts and contemplate what God asks of them, what the truth is, and what the principles of the truth are. It is hard for them to understand the truth, and even though they perform a duty, they are not able to practice the truth, and so, too, is it very difficult for them to enter into the reality of the truth” (“What Is It, Exactly, on Which People Rely to Live?” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Would you say it is difficult to fulfill one’s duty adequately? In fact, it is not; people must only be able to take a stance of humility, possess a bit of sense, and adopt an appropriate position. No matter how educated you are, what awards you have won, or how much you have achieved, and no matter how high your status and rank might be, you must let go of all of these things, you must get off your high horse—this all counts for nothing. In God’s house, however great these glories are, they cannot be higher than the truth, for these superficial things are not the truth, and cannot take its place. You must be clear about this issue. If you say, ‘I am very gifted, I have a very sharp mind, I have quick reflexes, I am a quick learner, and I have an exceedingly good memory, so I am qualified to make the final decision.’ If you always use these things as capital, and see them as precious, and as positive, then this is trouble; if your heart is occupied by these things, if they have taken root in your heart, it will be hard for you to accept the truth—and the consequences of that don’t bear thinking about. Thus, you must first put down and deny those things that you love, that seem nice, that are precious to you. Those things are not the truth; rather, they can block you from entering the truth” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word made me understand that I was so arrogant and unable to accept the truth for another reason, which is that I’ve always lived by my gifts. Because I knew a foreign language and had some work experience, and I outwardly had some mental caliber, and could handle some work problems, I regarded these gifts as capital, never sought principles of truth and God’s will, treated my brothers and sisters with contempt and disdain, and never listened to their suggestions. I put gifts above all else, lived in a state of self-appreciation, became increasingly arrogant, and blindly believed in myself, as if I was never wrong, but it was revealed time and time again that my ideas didn’t conform to the principles of truth at all. They were all wrong. Meanwhile, some brothers and sisters were outwardly ordinary and had no gifts, yet in their duty, they were able to seek the principles of truth in a down-to-earth manner, God’s guidance could be seen in them, and they could achieve good results in their duty. The facts showed med that having gifts does not mean understanding the truth. If we do our duty without seeking the principles of truth, and live by our gifts alone, we can only become more and more arrogant, lose all humanity and reason, and resist God involuntarily. To fundamentally resolve an arrogant disposition, we have to let go of this capital, and then learn to deny ourselves and seek the truth.
After that, I focused on practicing like this, but when I encountered problems and wanted to ask my brothers and sisters for help, there was still a battle in my heart. I felt that my ideas were very suitable, and that asking everyone else was superfluous. I worried I would be looked down on by others for not even being able to handle a simple task, but when I thought of the transgressions I committed because I believed too much in myself, I was a little afraid, and didn’t dare cling to my own ideas anymore. I was able to forsake myself and discuss it with everyone. Soon, my brothers and sisters saw that I had some understanding of myself and some changes, and I was elected to lead the church again. Once, the church lacked a gospel deacon. I saw that Sister Li was proactive in preaching the gospel and actively fellowshiped at gatherings, so in my heart, I decided that Sister Li was the perfect choice. At that moment, my partner sister reminded me that selecting a church deacon wasn’t a trivial matter, and that I should ask my leader for help. When I saw my sister’s hesitant expression, I thought, “Sister Li has always been active in spreading the gospel. Aside from Sister Li, is there a more suitable candidate? Besides, the promotion is just a chance to practice anyway, so if she’s not suitable, we can transfer her out. Why do I need the leader to give me advice?” Just as I was resistant, I thought of God’s words, “Even if your thinking is correct, you should take other people’s opinions into consideration as well, right? And if you don’t at all, is this not being extremely self-righteous?” Yes, since my sister wasn’t sure, I should seek. During my devotionals, I read these words of God’s, “If, whenever you have an idea or opinion, you blindly assert that it is correct, and what must be done, then you are being arrogant and self-righteous. If you have an idea or opinion that you feel is correct, but you don’t have complete faith in yourself, and you can make sure by searching and fellowshiping, then this is not being self-righteous. Gaining everyone’s consent and approval before carrying it out is the rational way to act” (“Only by Often Living Before God Can One Have a Normal Relationship With Him” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word made me understand that even when you think you are right, you should learn to let go of yourself and seek the truth. Only with this attitude can you gain the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and become better and better at your duty. If you arrogantly cling to yourself and disdain the reminders of others, if you don’t let go of yourself and seek the truth, you cannot receive the Holy Spirit’s guidance. With this in mind, the resistance in my heart slowly disappeared. After that, I prayed, entrusted this matter to God, and asked God to guide me. If Sister Li was not suitable, I asked God raise up people and things to show me. At the same time, I also sought the principles of selecting and promoting people. A few days later, I learned from someone familiar with her that although Sister Li appeared to be very proactive, she only did things to appear presentable, and was often lazy and cunning, muddled through, retreated when she encountered difficulties, and so even now had no entry. According to principles, she was unfit to be a gospel deacon. When I heard this, I was happy that I hadn’t insisted on my point of view. Otherwise, using an unsuitable person surely would have hindered gospel work. This really was God’s protection. I was very grateful for the guidance of God’s word. I saw that by practicing the truth and accepting others’ advice, I could avoid problems and deviations in my duty, and my heart was also at ease. Now, I feel very ashamed when I think about my arrogance in the past. Without the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, and without severe pruning, dealing, chastening, and discipline, I never would have reflected on myself, and I never would have denied myself and accepted the advice of others. Now I am more low-key, and I can discuss and seek with my brothers and sisters when I have problems. This little bit of change is the result of God’s words and work. I really thank God from my heart.