Why I Didn’t Want to Pay a Price in My Duty
By Chang Jing, South Korea
I was working in graphic design, and the group leader assigned me to create a new type of image. I wasn’t very experienced at the time, so I didn’t know the principles or essentials of the task. I put a ton of effort into it, but what I came up with wasn’t that great. I edited it several times without seeing much improvement. I felt like designing in this new style was really hard. When the group leader told me to make another similar image, I was quite resistant. I kept thinking of ways to pass it off to someone else, and even purposefully said, in front of the group leader, that I wasn’t good at those sorts of designs. She could see what I was thinking and stopped assigning those jobs to me. Later on, the church leader asked me to edit an image at the last minute and had the group leader give me some detailed instructions. It was kind of urgent, and I had to edit its form based on the original composition as fast as possible, and polish up the more detailed parts. It sounded simple to me. Since it already had its basic shape, some minor adjustments should be enough. But the group leader wasn’t satisfied with my edits and gave me some suggestions about how to fix it. It seemed like a hassle and I didn’t want to do it. I felt like the image was basically okay—if it was usable, that was enough. Was it really necessary to go into that much detail fixing it? It would waste quite a bit of time and energy. So I decided to share my thoughts. But to my surprise, the group leader sent me this message: “You don’t put your heart into your duty or try to achieve anything. You’re always trying to save yourself trouble and being perfunctory. How can you do a duty well with that kind of attitude?” Seeing this string of criticisms put me into a state of turmoil, and I felt wronged. Was I really that bad? A few days later, the church leader dealt with me for coveting the comforts of the flesh and shrinking from anything difficult. She said I wanted to avoid the hassle of difficult designs, and didn’t work hard on them, that I was always muddling through my duty, and couldn’t be relied on. Hearing her say that really hit home for me. Even a sister who knew me well said bluntly, “If you’re a designer who doesn’t put thought into producing good designs, how is that doing your duty?” Hearing that was like having cold water dumped on me, chilling me to the core. I felt like my time doing my duty was probably up—everyone knew what sort of person I was, so no one would trust me from then on.
That evening, I thought back over everything that had happened recently and the others’ assessments of me. I was really upset and hated myself for letting everyone down. Why did I do my duty like that? I cried and cried. In my misery, I read this in (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). I saw from God’s words that just choosing simple, easy tasks in a duty, and always getting others to do the more complicated and difficult things isn’t about intellect or caliber. It’s being greedy for comfort, and being unwilling to pay a price. Looking back, when the group leader had me work on a new type of design, I felt it was difficult because I was just learning. I had to suffer, pay a price, carefully think it out and revise it repeatedly in order to do a good job. Not wanting the trouble, I’d retreated from it, and found an excuse to hand it off. I’d just wanted work that was simple and easy. When the church leader asked me to edit an image, the group leader gave me detailed instructions, hoping I could do a better job. Though I agreed to it, I thought it was a hassle, so didn’t give it real thought or effort, just trying to make it easy for myself. That led to the image not turning out well, and it had to be redone several times. No matter what it was, I was reluctant to do anything requiring much thought or effort. I wanted to do things in the simplest, easiest way, I was preoccupied with the flesh. I read in God’s words, “Such people are useless, they are not entitled to perform their duty, and should be cast out.” This made me a little afraid. I was always heeding the flesh and craving comfort when doing my duty, and not at all willing to suffer and pay a price. I only thought about saving myself physical effort and not taxing my heart or mind. There was no sincerity or devotion to God in the way I did my duty, I thought if I could muddle through my tasks and get them done, that was enough. I hadn’t been playing a positive role. Moreover, I’d impacted the work’s progress. If I’d kept on that way without changing, God would have cast me out sooner or later.: “When performing a duty, people always pick light work, that will not tire them out, that will not involve braving the elements outdoors. This is called picking easy jobs and shirking hard ones, and it is a manifestation of coveting the comforts of the flesh. What else? (Always complaining when their duty is a little hard, a little tiring, when it involves paying a price.) (Being preoccupied with food and clothing, and the indulgences of the flesh.) These are all manifestations of coveting the comforts of the flesh. When such a person sees that a task is laborious or risky, they foist it off on someone else; they themselves only do leisurely work, and make excuses for why they cannot do this one, saying that they are of poor caliber and do not have the requisite skills, that it is too much for them—when in fact, it is because they covet the comforts of the flesh. … There’s also when people always complain while performing their duty, when they don’t want to put any effort in, when, as soon as they have a little down time, they take a rest, chatter idly, and gossip. And when work picks up and it breaks the rhythm and routine of their lives, they are unhappy about it. They grumble and complain, and they are dissatisfied, and they become careless and perfunctory in performing their duty. This is coveting the comforts of the flesh, is it not? … Are people who covet the comforts of the flesh suitable for performing a duty? Bring up the subject of performing their duty, talk about paying a price and suffering hardship, and they keep shaking their head: They would have too many problems, they are full of complaints, they are negative about everything. Such people are useless, they are not entitled to perform their duty, and should be cast out”
I read more of God’s words later. “On the surface, some people do not seem to have any serious problems throughout the time they perform their duty. They do nothing overtly evil; they do not cause disruptions or disturbances, or walk the path of the antichrists. In performing their duty, they do not have any major mistakes or problems of principle come up, yet, without realizing it, in a few short years they are exposed as not accepting the truth at all, as being one of the nonbelievers. Why is this so? Others cannot see an issue, but God scrutinizes these people’s innermost hearts, and He sees the problem. They have always been perfunctory and unrepentant in the performance of their duty. As time goes on, they are naturally exposed. What does it mean to remain unrepentant? It means that though they have performed their duty throughout, they have always had the wrong attitude toward it, an attitude of carelessness and perfunctoriness, a casual attitude, and they are never conscientious, much less devoted. They may put in a little effort, but they are just going through the motions. They are not giving it their all, and their transgressions are without end. From God’s vantage, they have never repented; they have always been perfunctory, and there has never been any change in them—that is, they do not relinquish the evil in their hands and repent to Him. God does not see in them an attitude of repentance, and He does not see a reversal in their attitude. They are persistent in regarding their duty and God’s commission with such an attitude and such a method. Throughout, there is no change in this stubborn, intransigent disposition, and, what is more, they have never felt indebted to God, have never felt that their carelessness and perfunctoriness is a transgression, an evildoing. In their hearts, there is no indebtedness, no guilt, no self-reproach, and much less is there self-accusation. And, as much time passes, God sees that this person is beyond remedy. No matter what God says, and no matter how many sermons they hear or how much of the truth they understand, their heart is not moved and their attitude is not altered or turned around. God sees this and says: ‘There is no hope for this person. Nothing I say touches their heart, and nothing I say turns them around. There is no means of changing them. This person is unfit to perform their duty, and they are unfit to render service in My house.’ Why does God say this? It is because when they perform their duty and do work they are consistently careless and perfunctory. No matter how much they are pruned and dealt with, and no matter how much forbearance and patience are extended to them, it has no effect and cannot make them truly repent or change. It cannot make them do their duty well, it cannot allow them to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. So this person is beyond remedy. When God determines that a person is beyond remedy, will He still keep a tight hold on this person? He will not. God will let them go” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not they, in their thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of the truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then without doubt, you are an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations to God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What does ‘for your own sake’ mean? To be exact, it means for Satan’s sake. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. It will not only fail to gain God’s approval—it will be condemned. What does one with such a belief in God seek to gain? Would such belief not come to naught in the end?” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). I used to think that even though I’d passed off the harder, more complicated projects, I was never idle and sometimes I’d work late into the night for a design. I felt that doing my duty this way was enough. But I saw from God’s words that He doesn’t look at how much work we’ve done or effort we’ve expended, but rather our approach to our duty, whether we’re considering God’s will, if we possess the testimony of practicing the truth. That’s how He decides if a person’s duty will gain His approval. Though it looked like I’d been doing my duty the whole time, I had a casual, careless attitude toward it, just heeding the flesh and indulging myself. I did whatever was easy for me and shrugged off whatever was hard, without the slightest devotion or submission. Rendering service this way is inadequate, it is trying to deceive God. I thought of how the group leader assigned some important tasks to me when I’d just started, but because I was always muddling through my duty, gravitating toward easy things, and not considering the church’s work, only myself, she stopped giving me important projects. I became someone that neither God nor other people could count on, just rendering service with simple tasks. By treating my duty that way, not only was I not doing good deeds, I was also amassing transgressions. If I didn’t let go of this evil and repent to God, He would detest and reject me as my transgressions multiplied, then I’d be fully exposed and cast out by Him. At that point it dawned on me how dangerous my attitude toward my duty was and this made me feel a little afraid. I also realized that being pruned and dealt with this time was God’s reminder and warning for me. I was too numb, too slow on the uptake. If it hadn’t been for the others really rubbing my nose in it, I wouldn’t have seen that my attitude toward my duty disgusted God. I knew I had to change this incorrect state of mine right away and repent to God, and stop being intransigent and rebellious.
I read more of God’s words about my state of pandering to the flesh and seeking ease, including this passage: “No matter what work some people do or what duty they perform, they are incapable of succeeding at it, it is too much for them, they are incapable of fulfilling any of the obligations or responsibilities that people ought to. Are they not trash? Are they still worthy of being called people? With the exception of simpletons, the mentally handicapped, and those who suffer from physical impairments, is there anyone alive who ought not to perform their duties and fulfill their responsibilities? But this kind of person is always conniving and playing dirty, and does not wish to fulfill their responsibilities; the implication is that they do not wish to conduct themselves like a proper person. God gave them caliber and gifts, He gave them the opportunity to be a human being, yet they cannot use these in performing their duty. They do nothing, but wish to enjoy everything. Is such a person fit to be called a human being? No matter what work is given to them—whether it be important or ordinary, difficult or simple—they are always careless and perfunctory, always lazy and slippery. When problems arise, they try to push responsibility for them onto other people; they take no responsibility, wishing to keep living their parasitic lives. Are they not useless trash?” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “What kind of people are useless people? Useless people are muddle-headed, people who drift through life. People of this sort are not responsible in anything they do, nor are they conscientious; they make a mess of everything. They do not heed your words no matter how you fellowship the truth with them. They think, 'I'll drift through life if I want to. What does it matter? I perform my duty and I've got food to eat, that's good enough. At least I don't have to beg. If I have nothing to eat one day, I'll think about it then. Heaven will always leave a door open. So what if you say I have no conscience or sense, or that I'm muddle-headed? I haven't broken the law, I haven't killed anyone or set fire to anything. At the very most, I just don't have the best character, but that's no big loss to me. So long as I have food to eat, it's fine.' What do you think of this perspective? I say to you, muddle-headed people like this who drift through life are all destined to be cast out. There is no way they can achieve salvation. Those who have believed in God for several years but have barely accepted the truth will be cast out. None will survive. Trash and good-for-nothings are all freeloaders and they are destined to be cast out. If leaders and workers are just looking to be fed, all the more must they be dismissed and cast out. Muddle-headed people like this still want to be leaders and workers, but they are unworthy. They do not do any real work, yet they want to lead. They truly have no shame” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s harsh revelation made me realize that always being careless in a duty, never taking responsibility, means you’re the same as trash. If you don’t put your heart into anything, if you’re always slacking off, not doing your proper duties or learning new skills, you’re garbage. I reflected and saw that’s how I was in my duty. No matter what job I was given, I didn’t want to give it any hard thought, suffer, or strive for achievements. I was content to just look busy and not be idle. Wasn’t I just messing around by doing my duty that way? It also occurred to me that since I was little, I’d always envied people in well off families who didn’t have a care in the world, who could travel around and have a comfortable, easy life. I was dying to have that kind of life for myself. I felt that as we humans only live for a few decades, if we don’t enjoy ourselves, isn’t that a life lived in vain? After growing up, I saw everyone else working hard to make money, so I started a business. But I still didn’t want to expend too much energy, and I was always absorbed in TV shows and novels. I didn’t give much thought to my business and didn’t care if I made money or not. By the end of the year, not only had I failed to earn anything, but I’d lost money. But that still didn’t upset me too much, I just comforted myself, thinking a few losses didn’t matter as long as there was food on the table. My outlook on life was “Drink today’s wine today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow,” and “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short.” Since I’d been influenced by these satanic ideas, I never attended to my proper duties, and didn’t strive for progress; I didn’t have a goal in life. I was still living by these ideas after becoming a believer. I felt like always taking it easy in my duty, not taxing myself, thinking too hard, or being stressed was a great way to live. But in fact, I couldn’t shoulder any kind of work. I wasn’t useful for anything, I was just like trash. The more I reflected on my behavior, the more surprised I felt. Wasn’t I precisely the sort of parasite that God was exposing? To save humanity, God has not only expressed His words and provided us with the truth and life, He has also bestowed us with all we need to survive and allowed us to enjoy it in abundance. He watches over and protects us, keeping us from falling into Satan’s traps. But I was heartless. I didn’t know I should repay God’s love in my duty, and instead became a lazy parasite. This satanic thinking poisoned and seeped into me. My values and outlook on life had become just like an animal’s, only knowing pleasures and indulgences of the flesh. I’d never seriously considered my duties, or how to do my duty well to satisfy God. At that point in my reflection, I felt nausea and disgust for myself, as well as contempt. I felt that I truly had been too deeply corrupted by Satan. I’d lost all conscience and reason, and become very numb. I also saw how Satan uses these thoughts to paralyze people and make us more depraved. Ultimately, we become garbage, just like walking corpses without a soul. I was so regretful that I hadn’t done my duty well, that I hadn’t done a single thing to comfort God. I felt really indebted to God and prayed, “God, I’ve been so profoundly corrupted by Satan. Without Your revelation, I’d never have seen how serious my problem is. I’ve been irresponsible and lacking humanity in my duty, enjoying so much of Your grace but never knowing to repay Your love. I’ve been a parasite. I see that the flesh is my greatest barrier to practicing the truth. I want to forsake it and repent to You, to be able to consciously seek the truth, and do my duty to Your requirements.”
I read some more of God’s words later. (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). I learned from God’s words that each person has their own responsibilities and duties, and to live with dignity and value, what’s key is whether we’re able to fulfill our responsibility and treat our duty seriously and attentively. We shouldn’t need others to constantly exhort us, we should have a sense of responsibility. No matter how things turn out, what’s important is if a person puts their heart into what they’re doing. Only those with that kind of attitude have character and dignity, and can be relied on, and will have their actions remembered by God. Understanding God’s will was enlightening for me and gave me a path of practice. In my duty after that, I was constantly reminding myself to be more attentive, to seek the principles of the truth, and strive to do the best that I could.says, “What is the very minimum responsibility that a person should fulfill? Most practical is how you perform your duty well today. Only ever being satisfied with going through the motions is not fulfilling your responsibilities, and only being able to parrot words of doctrines is not fulfilling your responsibilities. Only practicing the truth and doing things according to principle is fulfilling your responsibilities, and only when your practicing of the truth has been effective, and of benefit to people, will you have truly fulfilled your responsibility. No matter what duty you are performing, only when you persist in acting according to the principles of the truth, will you have truly fulfilled your responsibility. Going through the motions according to the human way of doing things is to be perfunctory and slapdash; only adhering to the principles of the truth is properly performing your duty and fulfilling your responsibility. And when you fulfill your responsibility, is this not the manifestation of loyalty? This is the manifestation of loyalty toward your duty. Only when you have this sense of responsibility, and this will and desire, when there is found in you the manifestation of loyalty toward your duty, shall God favor you, and look upon you with approval. If you don’t even have this sense of responsibility, God will treat you as an idler, a fool, and will despise you. … What is God’s expectation of a person to whom He has allocated a particular task in the church? Firstly, God hopes that they are responsible and diligent, that they treat the task with great importance, and do it well. Secondly, God hopes they are a person who is worthy of trust, that no matter how long it takes them, and no matter how their environment changes, their sense of responsibility does not waver, and their character stands up to the test. If they are a trustworthy person, God is reassured. He will longer monitor or follow up on this matter because inside, God trusts them. When God gives them this task, they are sure to complete it without any slipups. When God entrusts a task to people, is this not His wish? (It is.) Then once you understand God’s will, what should you do to make God trust you and find favor in you? There are many times when people’s performance and behavior, and the attitude with which they approach their duty even makes them despise themselves. So how can you demand that God find favor in you and show you grace, or give you special treatment? Is this not unreasonable? (Yes, it is.) Even you look down on yourself, even you despise yourself, so it does not make sense for you to demand that God find favor in you. As such, if you want God to find favor in you, other people should at least be able to trust you. If you want others to trust you, to favor you, to think well of you, then at the very least you must be respectable, responsible, true to your word, and trustworthy. Then what about in front of God? If you are also responsible, diligent, and devoted in your performance of your duty, then you have mostly fulfilled God’s requirements of you. Then there is hope of you gaining God’s approval, is there not?”
Once when a sister and I were talking about the design of an image, she mentioned that we had to use Western styles as a reference, and make it impressive. When she said “impressive” I felt like that would be difficult, and though I knew Western styles looked nice, making all sorts of decorative effects would be complicated. Other sisters had always done those kinds of designs before, and I wasn’t very skilled at it. Making it turn out well would be really hard for me, and take lots of time and energy. I felt hesitant and wanted to turn it down, to have another sister do it, but then I thought of a passage of God’s words I’d read before: “Suppose God’s house gives you a job to do, and you say, ‘… Whatever job the church assigns me, I’ll take it up with all my heart and strength, and if there’s something I don’t understand or a problem comes up, I’ll seek the truth, pray to God, understand the principles of the truth, and do the thing well. Whatever my duty, I’ll use everything I have to perform it well and satisfy God. For whatever I can achieve, I will do my best to take on all the responsibility that is mine to bear, and at the least, I will not go against my conscience and reason, or be careless and perfunctory, or be wily and truant, or enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. Nothing I do will be beneath the standards of conscience.’ This is the minimum standard of human comportment, and one who performs their duty in such a way may qualify as a conscientious, reasonable person. You must at least be clear of conscience in performing your duty, and you must feel at least that you earn your three meals a day and are not scrounging for them. This is called a sense of responsibility. Whether your caliber is high or low, and whether or not you understand the truth, you must have this attitude: ‘Since this work was given me to do, I must treat it seriously; I must make it my concern and do it well, with all my heart and strength. As for whether I can do it perfectly well, I can’t presume to offer a guarantee, but my attitude is that I’ll do my best to see it done well, and I certainly won’t be careless and perfunctory about it. If a problem arises, I should take responsibility then, and ensure I draw a lesson from it and perform my duty well.’ This is the right attitude” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). I thought of how irresponsible I’d been in my duty before. I was always muddling through it and did lots of things that disgusted God. This time I couldn’t pander to the flesh and crave comfort, I had to consider God’s will and take responsibility for my duty. I silently resolved that regardless of how much I could achieve, first I had to submit and work hard. Doing my best was most important. With these thoughts, I felt like I had a direction. I thought over the principles of our work and got some reference materials together, then made several versions and sent them to other sisters for suggestions. After some revisions it was finally finished. I had a sense of peace in my heart when I did things that way and felt like I was more pragmatic than before.
After that, I focused on self-reflection and forsaking the flesh in my duty. I made sure to put more thought into the little things in my daily life and tasks assigned to me by the church, and to think of how to do my duty better. In fact, this didn’t really tire me out, but instead I felt fulfilled. Being that kind of person really is wonderful. Though sometimes I still want to heed the flesh and indulge myself, I have better awareness of my corruption than before. I know that I need to pray right away and ask God to help me forsake the flesh, and ask Him to discipline me if I’m perfunctory, deceptive and irresponsible again. Over time, I’ve been able to take on a burden in my duty, and willing to shoulder my responsibilities and perform my duty. This is the only way to live with integrity, dignity, and inner peace!