The Truth Has Shown Me the Way
By Shizai, Japan
Almighty God says, “Serving God is no simple task. Those whose corrupt disposition remains unchanged can never serve God. If your disposition has not been judged and chastised by God’s words, then your disposition still represents Satan, which proves that you serve God out of your own good intentions, that your service is based on your satanic nature. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will ultimately turn into the false Christs who will appear in the last days, and will be deceivers of men. The false Christs and deceivers that were spoken of will arise from among such people” (“Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading this passage of God’s words touches me deeply and brings to mind an experience I had five years back.
I had just been elected as a church leader. I was really enthusiastic and took my duty seriously. I was determined to handle the church’s work well. When I started taking stock of all the teams’ work, I found that some team members weren’t right for the job, and team leaders weren’t correcting this. Some didn’t have a grasp of the principles and their leaders weren’t providing fellowship and help quickly enough, which impacted the church’s work. … This really concerned me, and I thought, “Such blatant problems are being left unresolved. They clearly aren’t responsible in their work. I really have to give them a good talking to in the next gathering and make absolutely sure they know where they’re going wrong.” In the next gathering, I repeatedly asked those team leaders about their work and pointed out the faults and issues I’d seen. Even though they knew they weren’t doing practical work and were willing to change, I still wasn’t satisfied. I thought that if I wasn’t stern, really dissecting it and dealing with them, nothing would come of it. With a scolding tone, I said they were perfunctory in their duties and weren’t resolving practical problems, this was disrupting the church’s work, and so on. After I was done, I didn’t ask them how they felt, but just patted myself on the back, thinking that I’d found problems and then fixed them. But a couple days later, a co-worker said to me, “A team leader said he’s afraid to see you, that he thinks you’ll deal with him if you see issues in his work.” Hearing this upset me a little, but I immediately thought that I’d done just what was needed, that it was to discover problems and then set them right, and dealing with them was so that they’d learn a lesson. I didn’t think anything of it. In the next meeting with team leaders, I kept sternly inquiring after their work, then dealt with them and dissected things when I found an issue. I also said self-assuredly, “Some brothers and sisters are afraid of being questioned about their work. What is there to be afraid of if you’re doing practical work? It’s only by learning about your work that problems can be found and corrected in time.” After the gathering I heard a team leader say, “I’m still learning how to do my duty and I have a lot of difficulties. I wanted to get them resolved through fellowship in our gathering, but instead, I’m just more stressed.” Hearing this was a little upsetting for me and I felt it was my fault that the gathering had not been fruitful. But I thought it was probably just because of my small stature, that my fellowship hadn’t been clear, and it was normal for a new team leader to feel a lot of pressure. I just shot back, “Stress is motivating. It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t feel that way.” A co-worker later learned that team leaders were afraid to see me and be dealt with by me, and cautioned, “Dealing with people that way is done out of temper. It’s not edifying for brothers and sisters. We should fellowship the truth more to resolve their issues and difficulties.” I still didn’t think anything of it, believing that my motives were correct and that even if I was a bit harsh, I was just taking responsibility for my work. So in spite of repeated warnings from my brothers and sisters, I never came before God to reflect on myself. I gradually came to feel a darkness growing in my spirit, and I couldn’t perceive the Holy Spirit’s work. I was suffering and in pain. Only then did I begin to reflect on myself: “Why haven’t I achieved anything in my duty, but I’m always hitting walls? Why do brothers and sisters always say they’re constrained by me? Is it really like what my co-workers say, that I’m dealing with people out of temper? But, I only say things sternly so the church’s work will be done well. If I didn’t, would brothers and sisters realize how serious these issues are?” Even through this torment, I was trying to justify myself. I was really suffering.
After praying, I read these words of God: “As leaders and workers in the church, if you want to lead God’s chosen people into the reality of the truth and to serve as God’s witnesses, most importantly, you must have a deeper understanding of God’s aim in saving people and the purpose of His work. You must understand the will of God and His various requirements of people. You must be practical in your efforts; practice only as much as you understand and communicate only on that which you know. Do not boast, do not exaggerate, and do not make irresponsible remarks. If you exaggerate, people will detest you and you will feel reproached afterward; this is just too inappropriate. When you provide the truth to others, you don’t necessarily have to deal with them and scold them in order for them to attain the truth. If you yourself don’t have the truth and only deal with and scold others, they will fear you, but that doesn’t mean they understand the truth. In some administrative work, it’s fine for you to deal with and prune others and discipline them to a certain degree. But if you cannot provide the truth and know only how to be overbearing and to chide others, your corruption and ugliness will be revealed. With the passage of time, as people are unable to obtain the provision of life or practical things from you, they will come to detest you and feel disgusted by you. Those who lack discernment will learn negative things from you; they will learn to deal with and prune others, to get angry, and to lose their temper. Isn’t that tantamount to leading others onto the path of Paul, onto a path toward perdition? Is that not an evildoing? Your work should focus on communicating the truth and providing life to others. If all you do is blindly deal with and lecture others, how will they ever understand the truth? As time goes by, people will see you for who you really are, and they will abandon you. How can you expect to bring others before God in this way? How is this doing the work? You will lose everyone if you keep working in this way. What work do you hope to accomplish anyway? Some leaders are incapable of communicating the truth to resolve problems. Instead, they just blindly deal with others and flaunt their power so that others come to fear them and obey them—such people are of the false leaders and antichrists. Those whose disposition has not changed are incapable of performing church work, and are unable to serve God” (Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words perfectly exposed my own state. That’s exactly how I was doing my duty. Instead of focusing on fellowship on the truth to handle problems, I was being temperamental, dealing with, scolding, and reprimanding others. As a result, they were constrained, afraid, and they avoided me. I also disgusted God because I was living within my corrupt disposition. I’d lost the Holy Spirit’s work and sunk into darkness. Thinking back on that time, when I found problems in brothers’ and sisters’ duties, I rarely sought the truth or found words of God for specific fellowship, and I really wasn’t directing them toward a path of practice. I was just chiding them and reprimanding them with my arrogant disposition. When I saw that they were feeling stifled by me, I still didn’t reflect on myself. I thought I was taking responsibility in my duty, that I was being considerate of God’s will and resolving practical problems. God cautioned me through my co-workers not to arbitrarily deal with people out of temper, but I didn’t take it to heart. As a result, some brothers and sisters had become negative. They were scared of me and avoided me. The church’s work wasn’t going well, either. God clearly requires that church leaders do their work primarily through fellowship on the truth. Brothers and sisters have to understand the truth before they can recognize their corrupt states and the truth of their corruption, and understand God’s will, and only then are they driven to practice God’s words and do their duties well. But I still thought I had to be harsh in my work, that when I discovered others’ issues I had to relentlessly scold and reprimand them, and that would be the only way for them to see their problems and rectify them. I thought it was the only way to achieve results. I saw then how truly absurd that perspective was! By working that way, I was taking advantage of my position and arrogantly chiding and constraining people. I wasn’t resolving others’ problems with fellowship on the truth. God requires that leaders use fellowship on the truth to resolve brothers’ and sisters’ problems, that they’re on an equal footing with everyone, that they fellowship on God’s words based on people’s actual difficulties, and share fellowship on their own experience and understanding to guide and help others. If they do deal with or expose someone, it has to be on the foundation of fellowship on the truth, to highlight the essence and key points of a problem so that people understand what God requires, so they can clearly see their own problems, the nature of their problems, the dangerous consequences of their problems, and so that they know what to do to be in line with the truth and how to do their duty as God requires. But I hadn’t done my duty as God required. I didn’t listen to my co-workers’ reminders, much less reflect on the nature and consequences of me scolding people based on my arrogant disposition. I justified it to myself, saying it was for their own good, and for the church’s work. I wasn’t on the right path in my duty, and not only was I not benefiting others at all, but I was actually constraining them. They were all miserable and stifled. Wasn’t I doing them harm? I was doing evil! I never thought that doing my duty based on my satanic disposition would have such serious consequences. I really regretted dealing with them and scolding them that way. I quickly came before God in prayer and seeking, and thought: What exactly had made me commit evil without even knowing it?
After that, I read this in God’s words: “If you really possess the truth within you, the path you walk will naturally be the correct path. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you had arrogance and conceit, you would find it impossible to keep from defying God; you would feel compelled to defy Him. 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, and, finally, sit in God’s place and bear testimony for yourself. In the end, you would turn your own ideas, your own thinking, and your own notions into truths to be worshiped. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words revealed the root of my evildoing: I was being controlled by my arrogant and conceited nature. Because of my arrogant, conceited nature, I always thought I was more responsible than others, so I lorded over them. When there were mistakes or oversights in brothers’ and sisters’ work, I looked down on them, using my position to scold and deal with them. I wasn’t understanding or sympathetic. Controlled by this arrogant nature, I also had total confidence in myself, thinking that the only way to resolve problems was to deal with people sternly. I presented my own notions and imaginings as the truth. Even when I saw the way I worked was stifling for others, I was still set in my ways, unwilling to listen to brothers and sisters. Even when my co-workers cautioned me, I still wouldn’t reflect on myself. I thought I’d just used a slightly harsh tone, and they couldn’t handle being dealt with. I’d been doing my duty based on my arrogant, satanic disposition, doing harm to brothers and sisters and delaying the church’s work. All I’d done was the evil of resisting God!
I also read these words from God: “You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will ultimately turn into the false Christs who will appear in the last days, and will be deceivers of men. The false Christs and deceivers that were spoken of will arise from among such people. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, they run the risk of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience acquired to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to lecture them and control them, and to stand on high—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people shall fall before God. They are of the same kind as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. Such service interferes with the work of God” (“Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words were devastating for me to read, and I could feel that God’s disposition tolerates no offense. I saw that in my years of faith, I hadn’t focused on seeking the principles of the truth, but I’d just been doing my duty my own way. I was unbridled in my arrogant disposition, scolding and constraining people from my position of power, and I ended up constraining my brothers and sisters. They were stifled and in pain. I was so lacking in humanity. I’d not only failed to resolve brothers’ and sisters’ practical problems, but I’d hindered their life entry and held up the church’s work. Wasn’t I acting as Satan’s minion? How was that doing my duty? I always used to think my motives were correct, that I cared about the church’s work, but then I saw that having a little enthusiasm and knowing a bit of doctrine wasn’t enough to satisfy God with my duty. Without accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, my satanic disposition couldn’t change, and then my duty wouldn’t accord with God’s will. I’d just do evil and resist God in spite of myself. I thought of the false leaders and antichrists who had been eliminated. They didn’t accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words or practice the truth, but did their duty with their satanic dispositions, so arrogant, conceited and haughty, arbitrarily dealing with and scolding people, standing on high, being tyrannical. Their impact on others was nothing but harmful, and they did nothing but tear down and disrupt the church’s work. Their work was nothing but doing evil and resisting God! It’s just as the Lord Jesus said: “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23). This left me feeling a little afraid. If I kept doing my duty relying on my satanic disposition, then I would only disrupt the church’s work and be condemned and eliminated by God, just like those other evildoers who resisted God. I then realized that the church life and my duty being fruitless was God exposing me, and that I should come before God to reflect on myself and repent to Him. Thinking about what an arrogant nature I had, without the judgment and exposure of God’s words and what the facts revealed, I never could have submitted. I never would have seen the dangerous consequences of doing my duty by my satanic disposition. I was really moved just then, and I felt I couldn’t go on like that. I had to seek the truth to resolve my corruption.
I then read this in God’s words: “When you encounter an issue, you need to keep a cool head, you need to approach it correctly, and you need to make a choice. You should learn to use the truth to resolve the issue. What is the use of your ordinarily understanding some truths? They are not there just to fill your belly and they are not there to merely be spoken and nothing more, nor are they there to resolve the problems of others. More importantly, they are to resolve your own problems, your own difficulties, and only after you resolve your own difficulties can you resolve the difficulties of others” (“Confused People Cannot Be Saved” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “You must have an understanding of the people with whom you fellowship, and you must fellowship about spiritual matters in life; only then can you supply life to others and make up for their inadequacies. You should not talk to them in a lecturing tone; that is fundamentally the wrong position to have. In fellowship, you must have an understanding of spiritual matters, you must possess wisdom, and you must be able to understand what is in people’s hearts. If you are to serve others, then you must be the right kind of person, and you must fellowship with all that you have” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through God’s words I understood that to resolve other people’s problems, we have to practice and enter into God’s words first. We have to seek the truth and resolve our own corruption. That’s what’s most important. If we have discernment over our corrupt disposition and have resolved it by seeking the truth, when someone else reveals that kind of corruption, we will know how to help them, how to fellowship on our own experience and understanding to show them a path of practice. We will also be able to approach others correctly and see that we have the same corruption we see in others, that it’s entirely the same. Then we won’t think we’re better than others, but we can fellowship on an equal level. That’s the only way to fellowship that will benefit others. But I wasn’t focusing on my own entry or reflecting on my problems in my duty. Instead, I was just working for the sake of working, as if I were free of corruption. I was preoccupied with fixing other people’s problems, and when my fellowship didn’t help, I scolded them condescendingly. I wasn’t living out a human likeness. I was like a demon. I was disgusting and hateful to God and repugnant to other people. The reality was that those brothers and sisters wanted to do their duty well, but they didn’t know how to because they didn’t fully understand the principles, and so made errors and omissions in work. We should be understanding and forgiving, guiding and helping in a more positive way, so that we can seek the truth and resolve things together. We should only reprimand and warn the people who are knowingly derelict in their duties, but that shouldn’t be the norm. My heart brightened after understanding this and I knew how I should do my duty from then on.
Not long after that, I heard there was a team leader of good caliber with a pure understanding of the truth, who could resolve practical problems through fellowship on the truth, but was feeling weak, unwilling to endure hardships, and retreating in the face of problems and difficulties. I was on edge the second I heard about this, thinking she wasn’t taking her duty seriously, and I had to deal with her harshly. I then realized that I was blindly acting on my arrogant disposition again. I quickly prayed to God and was determined to practice according to His words this time. I then sought out that team leader and had a heart-to-heart with her so I could understand her state and difficulties. I found relevant words from God and used my personal experiences in my fellowship. She realized that she wasn’t devoted to God’s commission, and she wanted to change. It was really moving for me to see my sister able to know herself and become willing to change. I really came to appreciate that a church leader has to focus on fellowship on the truth to truly edify others. It’s the only way to benefit people’s lives.