Willfulness Hurts Others and Yourself
By Hexi, Australia
I was elected as a church leader in April 2020 to take charge of watering work. I noticed that some new believers weren’t consistent in attending gatherings recently, coming late and leaving early. Some were busy with school or work and said they’d come when they had time. Some didn’t come because they were fooled by the lies of the CCP and religious world. We tried to talk to them, but some wouldn’t answer the phone—they’d practically disappeared. I was thinking that we’d tried to talk to them and they didn’t want to attend, so we weren’t responsible for it. It was time to let go. Also, God wants the best of people, not more people. He saves those with true faith, those who love the truth. If they didn’t have true faith, no amount of effort from us would matter. So without prayer or seeking, or discussing it with my leader, I decided to kick those newcomers out. I tried to go talk to a few of them, but they didn’t want to join gatherings, so I felt even more sure I’d judged correctly. A sister noticed lots of new believers were kicked out two months in a row and asked me if it was really appropriate to do that. She said we could have fellowship with our leader and learn the principles. I was thinking that this was how we’d handled that sort of thing in the past. We’d tried to talk to them, but we couldn’t even get in touch, and some lost interest in being believers. There was no need to seek the principles. So, I rejected her suggestion. I felt a little uneasy after the fact, wondering if it was really the right thing to do. But then I figured it couldn’t be wrong because we’d offered them support, but they didn’t want to come to gatherings, and it was no fault of our own. I thought they just weren’t true believers. Even though I felt unsettled, I didn’t do any prayer or seeking, and I gave up on some newcomers every month.
Later my leader found out I wasn’t following the principles in that and really harshly criticized me, saying I didn’t know any principles and didn’t seek, but just blindly did whatever I wanted. She also said it was really hard for every single one of them to come before God, that brothers and sisters in our other churches were putting everything into supporting them, but I was just nonchalantly sweeping them aside. I was delimiting them without offering loving support, and it was really irresponsible. Then she asked me why they weren’t attending gatherings, what sorts of notions and issues they had, if I’d tried to resolve them through fellowship, and if I’d tried to think of other ways to help them. I couldn’t answer a single one of her questions, but scene after scene of me giving up on new believers played in my mind like a movie. Then I finally realized that I hadn’t been responsible toward them, that I hadn’t actually helped and supported them with love. I hadn’t gained clarity on what their unresolved notions were or why they weren’t coming to gatherings. They hadn’t been to gatherings for a while, so I figured they’d lost interest, and I paid them no mind. I saw I’d really failed in my responsibility for new believers’ lives and was casually rejecting them, contrary to the principles. I was really lacking humanity. So I came before God to pray, asking Him to enlighten and guide me so I could understand His will, and self-reflect and learn about myself.
After that, I saw this passage of: “You must be cautious with the people you spread the gospel to. Each time you preach the gospel to someone is like delivering a newborn child. Their lives are very fragile, and they need our forbearance, our utmost love. More than that, they require certain methods and approaches. Most important is that we convey to them all the truths that God has expressed for the salvation of mankind, in order to bring them benefits, and, to the greatest extent possible, allow those who can understand God’s voice to return before God. This is the responsibility and obligation of every person” (“Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Some people are of poor caliber and haven’t believed in God for very long. Though they do not understand the truth, they sincerely believe in God. It’s just because they are of poor caliber, and do not understand the truth, and when something happens, they do not search for the truth, that they are often negative, and feel that believing in God involves too many difficulties, that they are not good enough. They are always worrying that they won’t be saved, and sometimes even throw in the towel and give up voluntarily, which is the same as eliminating themselves. In their hearts they think, ‘In any case, God has not praised me for my belief in Him. God doesn’t like me, either. And I don’t have much time to go to assembly. My family is poor and I need to earn money,’ and so on. These all become the reason why they can’t go to assembly. If you are not quick to find out what’s going on, you will think that they do not love the truth, do not love God, have no interest in performing their duty, covet the comforts of the flesh, pursue worldly things and cannot let go of them—and because of this, you will let them go. In fact, it is because of their difficulties that they become negative; if you can solve these problems, they will not be so negative, and will be able to follow God. When they are weak and negative, they need people’s support. If you help them, they will be able to get back on their feet. But if you ignore them, it will be easy for them to give up. This depends on whether the people who do the work of the church have love, on whether they carry this burden. That some people do not often come to assembly does not mean that they do not truly believe in God, it is not tantamount to a lack of sincerity, it does not mean that they don’t want to believe, nor that they covet the pleasures of the flesh, and are not able to put aside their families and work—much less should they be judged as overly emotional or enamored of money. It’s just that in these matters, people’s statures and aspirations are different. For some people, pursuing the truth is especially important, and they are willing to suffer, and are able to give up these things. Some people have little faith, and when faced with actual difficulties they are powerless and fall by the wayside. If nobody helps or supports them, they’ll throw in the towel, give up the ghost; at such times, they need people’s support, care, and assistance. That’s unless they are a nonbeliever, and are devoid of love for the truth, and a bad person—in which case they can be ignored. If they are a good person, and receptive, and of pretty good caliber, then they should be helped and supported” (God’s Fellowship).
I was really ashamed when I thought about what this meant. God has become flesh in the last days and come to speak and work among us for our salvation. He knows how deeply Satan has corrupted us, that we’re full of rebellion and resistance. He does His utmost to save every single person. God wouldn’t casually reject someone even if there’s just the slightest glimmer of hope. God’s overflowing with mercy and tolerance for humans—His love for us is so great. Those new believers were like newborn babies. They didn’t understand the truth and didn’t have a foundation on the true way yet. They were fragile in life. God asks us to have tremendous love and tolerance for them. As long as they have true faith and good humanity, even if they’re weak, have religious notions, and are too busy to attend gatherings, we can’t casually dismiss them. We can’t write them off for one little thing, thinking they’re not true believers because they weren’t coming to gatherings, and then completely ignore them. That’s doing them in. When I was new to the faith, I wasn’t gathering properly because I was busy at home, but brothers and sisters were really understanding and would change gathering times to accommodate my schedule, and they fellowshiped with me tirelessly. Their help and support allowed me to see the importance of pursuing the truth, and I could feel God’s love and tolerance for me. After that I could attend gatherings normally and take on a duty. If brothers and sisters had despised me at the time, thinking I didn’t love the truth and was a nonbeliever, they’d have given up on me a long time ago, and I’d never be here today! I saw I wasn’t considering God’s will at all or being understanding of newcomers’ difficulties. I rejected them and was discontent, thinking they were just busy with various things, that they had too many notions, so I delimited and spurned them, and didn’t want to pay more of a price to help them. I had such evil humanity, and didn’t take on a shred of responsibility for new believers’ lives. I prayed to God, “God, I want to repent to You. Please guide me to correct my faults as soon as I can, to help and support these people with love.”
After that I started going with other church members to offer support to these newcomers. We learned about their struggles and patiently fellowshiped with them, and some of them came back to gatherings. One of them had been so busy with work it was hard for her to come to gatherings, and she said, “As long as I believe in my heart, God will never cast me out.” Before I thought she was focused on earning money and didn’t have genuine faith, but gaining an understanding of her showed me she wasn’t at gatherings because we set them for times that didn’t work for her. We adjusted our meeting times to suit her and fellowshiped with her so she understood that in the last days, God uses the truth to cleanse and save mankind, and true believers need to gather and fellowship on God’s words, pursue and gain the truth, cast off their corruption, and experience change in their lives, and that’s the only way to be saved by God and gain His approval. Having faith without joining gatherings but just believing in your heart and acknowledging God, or treating it like a hobby, in God’s eyes you’re just like an unbeliever. Even if you believe till the end, you’ll never gain God’s approval. Through fellowship, she realized she’d had the wrong perspective and wanted to join gatherings again. I felt horrible, and so full of regret when I saw all these new believers coming back to join gatherings, one after another. I was just arbitrarily writing people off. I nearly ruined their chances at salvation, which would be a great evil.
One day, my leader asked me, “Since you took on watering work, how many newcomers have you let go of because of your irresponsibility? When you let go of them, did you seek the principles of the truth?” I had no idea what to tell her. Then she sent me a passage of God’s words: “No matter what you do, you should first understand why you are doing it, what intention it is that directs you to do this thing, what the significance is in your doing it, what the nature of the matter is, and whether what you are doing is a positive thing or a negative thing. You must have a clear understanding of all these matters; this is quite necessary to be able to act with principle. If you are doing something to fulfill your duty, then you should ponder: How should I fulfill my duty well so that I am not just doing it perfunctorily? You should pray and draw close to God in this matter. Praying to God is in order to seek the truth, the way to practice, the intention of God, and how to satisfy God. Prayer is in order to achieve these effects; it is not some religious ritual. This is how to draw close to God in everything you do. It does not involve performing a religious ceremony or an outward action. It is done for the purpose of practicing in accordance with the truth after seeking God’s will. If you always say ‘thanks be to God’ when you haven’t done anything, and you might seem very spiritual and insightful, but if, when the time comes to act, you still do as you want, without searching for the truth at all, then this ‘thanks be to God’ is nothing more than a mantra, it is false spirituality. When fulfilling your duty or working on something, you should always think: ‘How should I fulfill this duty? What is God’s will?’ It is for you to draw close to God through what you do, and, in doing so, to seek the principles and truth for your actions, seeking God’s will in your heart, not straying from God’s words or the principles of the truth in anything you do: Only this is someone who truly believes in God. If, no matter what they do, people follow their own ideas, and consider things in highly simplistic terms, and do as they please, and do not seek the truth, either, if there is a total absence of principle, and in their hearts they give no thought to how to act according to what God asks, or in a way that satisfies God, and they know only to mulishly follow their own will, then God has no place in their hearts. Some people say, ‘I only pray to God when I encounter difficulty, but still it doesn’t feel like this has any effect—so generally when things happen to me now I don’t pray to God, because praying to God is of no use.’ God is utterly absent from the hearts of such people. Most of the time, they do not seek the truth no matter what they are doing; they only follow their own ideas, doing as they please. So are there principles to their actions? Definitely not. They see everything in simple terms and do as they please. Even when people fellowship the principles of the truth to them, they are not able to accept them, because there have never been any principles to their actions, and God has no place in their hearts; there is no one but them in their hearts. They feel their intentions are good, that they are not committing evil, that they cannot be considered in violation of the truth, they think that acting according to their own intentions is practicing the truth, that acting thus is obeying God. In fact, they are not truly seeking or praying to God in this matter, they have not tried their best in following what God asks in order to satisfy God, they do not have this true state, this wish. This is the greatest mistake in people’s practice. If you believe in God yet He is not in your heart, are you not trying to deceive God? And what effect can such faith in God have? Just what can you gain? And what is the point of such faith in God?” (“Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words revealed my exact state and behavior. When I let go of those new believers, I didn’t pray or seek the truth, or even discuss it with my leader. I blindly acted on experience, thinking that I’d watered newcomers before, and if they skipped gatherings for months we’d just let them go, so if these ones didn’t come back, shouldn’t I do the same thing? I thought I had a clear view of which ones weren’t truth seekers or were nonbelievers, so I casually delimited and rejected them. I didn’t pray or seek even when I felt uneasy about it and thought nothing of my partner bringing it up, but just did whatever I wanted. I treated my notions and imaginings like principles of the truth, thinking I couldn’t be wrong. I thought nothing of other people, and I wasn’t holding God in my heart. I was much too willful! I judged whether new believers had genuine faith by whether they came to gatherings, thinking if they didn’t show up for a while and wouldn’t come back, we could let them go. Though they weren’t coming to gatherings, I should have differentiated which ones were true believers and which were nonbelievers. Some of the ones I’d given up on were reluctantly going along with family members that hoped they’d become believers, but their heart really wasn’t in it. They didn’t like reading God’s words or going to gatherings. Some kept pursuing fame and fortune and evil trends. They weren’t remotely interested in following God. They hated and resisted any kind of fellowship on God’s words. These people hate the truth by nature, so they’re innately nonbelievers. When people like that don’t attend gatherings, we can let go of them. Some newcomers have good humanity and genuine faith, but don’t understand the truth or the significance of gatherings because they’re just starting out. They think they only need to believe in God in their heart, and gatherings don’t matter, so they think nothing of it and come when they can, but otherwise skip it. And some run into practical difficulties, like conflicts between work and gathering times, so they don’t want to come. What we need to do is fellowship and help them lovingly with their difficulties and use God’s words to resolve their notions and have them understand God’s will to save man, while also adjusting gathering times to suit their schedules. I wasn’t distinguishing between their actual situations or being principled in my duty. I didn’t understand the truth, but stubbornly did things my own way, just carelessly tossing one soul after another to the wayside. I was doing evil, disrupting God’s management work.
God paid an incredible price for every new believer who accepted God’s work of the last days. Brothers and sisters also patiently, lovingly shared the gospel with them multiple times, but without even seeking the truth, I delimited them as not being people God would save. I really was unreasonably arrogant. Not coming to gatherings wasn’t a problem with them, but it was because I didn’t know what they were facing and I wasn’t helping and supporting them as I should. I was also using the statement that God wants the best of people, not more people as an excuse to give up on newcomers. But what that really meant was that God’s kingdom needs people who have true faith and love the truth, and God won’t save nonbelievers, evildoers and antichrists. But I’d judged new believers who skipped gatherings as people God wouldn’t save. I was misinterpreting God’s words. I didn’t provide any practical fellowship or help for them, or pay a price and do what I should have. I also didn’t get an understanding of whether they really cared about the truth or not, or if they were true nonbelievers, but I just blindly, unilaterally rejected them. If my leader hadn’t pruned and dealt with me, I wouldn’t have seen that I was ruining all those people’s chance at salvation. I saw how hateful my behavior had been. I didn’t know the principles or do any seeking, but just acted out of my satanic disposition. Those were transgressions! I knew I had to repent and change, or God would definitely be disgusted with me.
As a church leader, God’s will is for me to water and nurture these brothers and sisters new to the faith, to help resolve their notions and problems so they can learn about God’s work and put roots down on the true way faster. But I was just doing whatever I wanted. I was not only going my own way, but I was the blind leading the blind, leading others astray, so brothers and sisters also arbitrarily rejected new believers, ruining their chance at salvation. I was doing evil. I felt so scared when I saw how serious the consequences were of doing things my own way. I also hated myself. Why didn’t I pray to God or seek principles of the truth at the time? Why didn’t I reach out to my leader? What led me to act with such bravado? I prayed to God and then read a passage of God’s words. “If, in your heart, you truly understand the truth, then you will know how to practice the truth and obey God, and will naturally embark on the path of pursuing the truth. If the path you walk is the right one, and in line with God’s will, then the work of the Holy Spirit will not leave you—in which case there will be less and less chance of you betraying God. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you have an arrogant and conceited disposition, then being told not to oppose God makes no difference, you can’t help yourself, it is beyond your control. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display; they would make you scorn others, they would leave no one in your heart but yourself; they would make you think yourself superior to both other people and God, and ultimately cause you to sit in the place of God and demand that people submit to you, venerating your thoughts, ideas, and notions as the truth. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I’d read this plenty of times, but it really spoke to me for this experience. I hadn’t served as a church leader for very long and didn’t have any reality of the truth. I didn’t understand so many principles of the truth, but I thought really highly of myself, as if I understood everything. With new believers, I just looked at how they acted, not at their essence. I also thought I was really something, so I didn’t pray or seek or talk to my leader, or even take my partner’s advice. I was incredibly arrogant. My leader criticized me for not understanding principles or even seeking those truths, and she was 100% right. There are lots of principles concerning how to treat new believers, like the principle of helping people with love, the principle of treating people fairly. There are also truths about resolving their notions, and more. If I’d had the slightest reverence for God and hadn’t been so self-assured, but had really given consideration to these principles, I never would have been so pig-headed and disruptive to our work. I realized that living by my arrogant disposition just made me do evil and resist God. I hated myself more and more, and felt I really deserved God’s damnation. I also swore that I had to seek the truth to resolve my arrogant disposition.
There were a couple passages I read after that. “In their work, church leaders and workers must pay attention to two things: One is to do their work exactly according to the principles stipulated by the work arrangements, never violating those principles and not basing their work on anything that they might imagine or on any of their own ideas. In everything they do, they should show concern for the work of God’s house, and always put its interests first. Another thing—and this is most crucial—is that in all things, they must focus on following the Holy Spirit’s guidance and do everything in strict keeping with God’s words. If you are still capable of going against the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or if you stubbornly follow your own ideas and do things according to your own imagination, then your actions will constitute a most serious resistance against God” (“The Main Principles of Work for Leaders and Workers” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “How should you reflect on yourself, and try to know yourself, when you have done something that violates the principles of the truth and is displeasing to God? When you were about to do that thing, did you pray to Him? Did you ever ponder, ‘How would this matter be viewed by God if it were brought before Him? Would He be happy or irritated if He knew about it? Would He detest it?’ You did not seek it out, did you? Even if others reminded you, you would still think that the matter was no big deal, and that it did not run against any principles and was not a sin. As a result, you offended God’s disposition and provoked Him to great anger, even to the point of His despising you. If you had sought and examined, and seen the matter clearly before acting, would you then not have gotten a handle over it? Even though there can be times when people’s state is not good, or negative, if they solemnly take everything they are planning on doing before God in prayer, and then seek the truth on the basis of God’s words, they will not make any major mistakes. When practicing the truth, it is hard for people to avoid making mistakes, but if you know how to do things in accordance with the truth when you do them, yet you do not carry them out in accordance with truth, then the problem is that you have no love for the truth. The disposition of a person without love for the truth will not be changed. If you cannot accurately grasp God’s will, and do not know how to practice, then you should fellowship with others and seek the truth. And if the others also are struggling, too, then you should pray together and seek from God, awaiting God’s time, waiting for Him to open up a way out. You may well figure out a solution that gives you a good way out, and this may well be born of the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. If you ultimately discover that in carrying it out this way you have made a slight error, then you should quickly correct it, and then God will not count this error as a sin. Because you had the right intentions when putting this matter into practice, and you were practicing in accordance with the truth and simply did not know the principles clearly, and your actions resulted in some errors, then this was an extenuating circumstance. However, nowadays many people merely rely on their own two hands to work and on their own minds to do this and that, and they seldom give any consideration to these questions: Does practicing this way conform to God’s will? Would God be happy if I did it this way? Would God trust me if I did it this way? Would I be putting the truth into practice if I did it this way? If God hears of this matter, would He be able to say, ‘You have done this correctly and suitably. Keep it up’? Are you able to carefully examine everything you do? Are you likely to use God’s words and God’s requirements as the basis for reflecting on everything you do, pondering whether acting thus is beloved by God or despised by God, and what God’s chosen ones will think when you do this, how they will evaluate it? … When you spend more time contemplating such things, asking yourself these questions, and searching, your mistakes will become smaller and smaller. Doing things in this manner will prove that you are a person who genuinely seeks the truth and that you are one who reveres God, because you are doing things in accordance with the direction that God requires, and in accordance with the principles of the truth” (“Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days).
His words gave me a path of practice. Leaders and workers need to work strictly in accordance with work arrangements and principles of the truth, and always be sure to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We also need to pray and seek in our duty and maintain a heart of reverence for God, not follow our own ideas, notions, or past experiences, just doing whatever we want. We really can’t blindly believe ourselves, but we have to seek principles of the truth, and when we don’t understand something, we should seek and fellowship with others so we understand principles before acting. That’s what God’s will is. This experience really taught me a lesson. If God hadn’t set things up and gotten my leader to criticize me, I still wouldn’t understand how serious the consequences of my actions would be. I told myself that from then on, I had to seek the truth and do my duty based on the principles. Later on, a couple new members stopped coming to gatherings, and I didn’t dare make assumptions and reject them so cavalierly. There was one of them that we reached out to offer support many times, and discussed his situation with our leader as well. We became sure he was a nonbeliever and let him go. The other was a sister who’d believed in God for less than two years, liked reading God’s words and did her best in her duty, and when she read God’s words judging and exposing people’s corruption, she’d compare them to herself, and she felt like she was hopelessly corrupt and was just giving up. We gave her fellowship on God’s words together so she could see that God’s salvation is for those of us who are corrupted by Satan, that God understands our difficulties and weaknesses just like a mother, and as long as we don’t give up our pursuit of the truth, God won’t just give up on us, because God saves man as far as possible. Her face was covered in tears when we said that, and she could feel God’s love. We helped her a few times, and now she’s gathering normally again.
This experience has really shown me God’s earnest intentions and incredible love to save corrupt mankind. And through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, I’ve gained some understanding of my arrogant disposition and seen the danger and consequences of doing my duty my own way. I’ve finally gained some reverence for God. Now I can do my duty in line with the principles, entirely thanks to God’s guidance. Thank God!