91. A Farewell to Being “Nice”
By Lin Fan, Spain
My childhood was spent amid the sound of my stepmother shrieking and cursing. Later, when I knew better, in order to get along with my stepmother and people around me, I lived by the satanic laws of survival of “Better to keep schtum than point out trouble; stay quiet for self-protection and seek only to escape blame,” and “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship.” This earned me the praise of others and made everyone say I was easy to get along with. Gradually, I distilled some life lessons: If I was to survive in this dark and evil society, I had to get on well with the people around me. Only then would I fit in. After coming to the church, I still acted by the same principles. Whenever I came across a problem while performing my duty, I kept quiet, afraid that pointing out the problem would offend people and be bad for me. My failure to practice the truth harmed the work of the church and was a transgression before God. The chastisement and judgment of God’s words showed me my true face as a “nice” person, and allowed me some knowledge of the substance of those “nice” people. I saw that being “nice” harmed others and hurt myself, that I had taken the path of no return—the path of opposing God—and so I resolved to cast off the constraints of my “being nice” mentality, to have the courage to practice the truth and abide by principle, and to live out a little of the semblance of someone honest.
In 2018, I was selected to be a mid-level leader. I was very grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to train, and resolved to perform my duty properly, to satisfy God, and to live up to God’s expectations of me. When I just accepted my duty, I was not so familiar with some of the church’s affairs. Sister Liu, who I was teamed up with, had been performing this duty for more than a year and was relatively familiar with the various aspects of the church’s work. Whenever I came across a problem, I would ask Sister Liu, and she would frequently help me. But I gradually realized that during assemblies, Sister Liu only spoke of letters and doctrines, and did not have the reality of practicing the words of God. She was also very passive and did not do real work when it came to performing her duty. When the brothers and sisters reported problems to her, she did not try to fix them; in particular, she did not handle the false leaders in the church that urgently needed replacing, but instead kept putting the problem off. During this time, Sister Liu mentioned, several times, how the church leader Sister Zhang simply went through the formalities, how she had never done real work when performing her duty, and spoke nothing but letters and doctrines during assemblies. What’s more, Sister Zhang even did not accept the suggestions or help of others. Yet after saying this, Sister Liu didn’t seem to have any intention of replacing Sister Zhang. Later, when I met Sister Zhang, I discovered she really was like what Sister Liu had said about her, so I said to Sister Liu, “Measuring what is manifested in Sister Zhang according to principle, she is a false leader who does not pursue the truth, does not do real work, and is without the work of the Holy Spirit. She should be replaced.” But Sister Liu only replied lightly, “Sister Zhang may not be capable enough, but right now she’s still able to do some work. Let’s try and help her.” In my heart, I thought: “In our work arrangements it is said that as soon as false leaders are discovered in the church, they must be replaced in time. Sister Zhang has already been laid bare as a false leader, so she should be replaced!” I was just about to open my mouth to say this, when I thought to myself: “Sister Liu has been performing her duty as a leader for such a long time, she should be aware of the requirements of the work arrangements. If I insist, will she think I’m saying she’s not doing real work, will she think I’m making a fuss, and hard to get along with? Oh! I’m new at this and there’s much that I don’t understand. I’m going to be working with her for a while, too—if I fall out with Sister Liu because of this, how will we perform our duty together? I should just forget it!” Thinking this, I said nothing more.
Later, I fellowshiped with Sister Zhang several times, but there was no improvement in her state. Then the other brothers and sisters in the church informed me that Sister Zhang was not doing real work, and I realized that the issue was urgent. Not wasting any time, I went back to Sister Liu to discuss replacing Sister Zhang. But Sister Liu started making excuses: “The upper-level leaders are verifying the letters of accusations. She’ll be replaced when they confirm she is a false leader.” In my heart I thought, “If she really is a false leader, she must be replaced as soon as possible. If we wait for them to be verified before replacing her, the work of the church will be delayed, and the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life will be delayed, too. This is going against God!” I wanted to speak of the importance of replacing false leaders with Sister Liu, but then I thought: “If I make a point about replacing Sister Zhang, will Sister Liu think I am too arrogant and conceited, that I’m just trying to prove myself in my new position by showing off myself here? What’s more, Sister Liu hadn’t said Sister Zhang wouldn’t be dealt with; she’d just said to wait for confirmation from the upper-level leaders before doing anything—so I’d better keep quiet. It will only be for a few days.” Thus did I keep my words to myself. Several days later, the upper-level leaders subjected us mid-level leaders to stern reproach for not immediately handling the false leader in the church. They said we weren’t protecting God’s chosen ones, that we were the accomplices, the shields, of Satan, that we were harming the other brothers and sisters. Only then was Sister Zhang quickly removed. While this was being sorted out, I discovered that it had been a long time since Sister Zhang had not done any real work. She had never been effective at the gospel work of the church for which she was responsible, and the brothers and sisters all lived amid negativity and weakness. Some didn’t even want to go to assembly. Seeing what great harm not immediately dealing with a false leader had brought to the church, I felt a great deal of self-reproach in my heart. Yet I didn’t spend more time reflecting on this matter and trying to know myself, believing it enough that Sister Zhang had been replaced.
Next, serious problems began appearing in all aspects of work from the churches Sister Liu was responsible for. When she was pruned and dealt with by the upper-level leaders, she was not only unrepentant, but lived in negativity and resistance, no longer willing to perform her duty. Seeing Sister Liu’s state, I wanted to point these problems out to her so that she could reflect on them, but I was also worried: “If I tell her to reflect on herself, will she say that I don’t show consideration for her, that I have no love for her? It would be hard to work together if things turn frosty between us.” After giving it some thought, I fellowshiped God’s will to her in a very roundabout way, and advised her to stop being negative. Afterward, Sister Liu would often complain, and argue about right and wrong—she was clearly without the work of the Holy Spirit. I thought of how Sister Liu had never done real work since we’d been performing our duties together, and about how, when she was pruned and dealt with, she didn’t accept them or try to seek the truth. These were the manifestations of a false leader! It was at this time that the upper-level leaders asked me to write an evaluation of Sister Liu. I felt really conflicted in my heart: Should I be honest about what has usually been manifested in Sister Liu? If I didn’t report this, I’d be sheltering a false leader and not upholding the work of the house of God. But most of the brothers and sisters didn’t know what was really going on. They couldn’t discern this, and were all pretty supportive of Sister Liu. If I stuck my neck out and reported her problems, would they think badly of me? What’s more, I lived with Sister Liu every day. She had helped me when I had problems. If I reported her problems and she really was replaced, would she hate me? And so, after weighing the pros and cons, I underplayed the manifestation of Sister Liu’s failure to do real work and lack of entry when writing her evaluation. After the evaluation was submitted, I felt great unease in my heart. I realized that I had hidden the facts and deceived God. In my spirit, I felt great accusation. Over the next few days, I would nod off while reading the words of God, and would not be enlightened or illuminated during assemblies and fellowships. I couldn’t feel God’s guidance, nor was I able to identify problems in the church. Several days later, after holding an investigation and confirming that Sister Liu was a false leader who didn’t do real work, the upper-level leaders removed her. Although Sister Liu had been removed, for the sake of maintaining my relationship with her I had forsaken the truth and transgressed. Thinking of this, I was overwhelmed with shame and self-recrimination. I immediately prayed to God and began reflecting upon myself.
Later, I read in God’s words that “The most fundamental and important components of one’s humanity are conscience and reason. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity or a person of bad humanity. … Such people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and possess no sense of responsibility. … There are even people who, upon seeing a problem, remain silent. They see that others are creating interruptions and disturbances, yet do nothing to stop them. They do not consider the interests of God’s house in the least, nor do they at all think about their own duties or responsibilities with which they are bound. They speak, act, stand out, put forth effort, and expend energy only for their own vanity, face, position, interests, and honor” (“You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I also read a fellowship which went like this, “All who behold the appearance of false leaders and antichrists, who are able to identify them, but do not do their responsibility, do not protect the chosen ones, nor uphold the work of God, being afraid of offending people, being ‘nice’—such people do not love God, and God does not make such people perfect. God does not make ‘nice’ people perfect; people like this are slippery, crafty, insidious, they go whichever way the wind’s blowing, they are nothing good, they are classic devils and Satan” (“The Relationship Between Pursuing the Love of God and Being Made Perfect” in Sermons and Fellowship IX). Reading God’s words and this fellowship caused me great distress, and I couldn’t hold back the tears of shame. I saw that I was someone “nice,” that I would do everything I could to protect myself when something happened, did nothing to uphold the interests of the house of God, and had no sense of responsibility toward the work of the church and the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life. I knew full well that Sister Zhang had been exposed as a false leader. The work of the church, and the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life, that she was responsible for had been obstructed, and I knew that to not immediately remove false leaders was to sin against God and offend God’s disposition, yet I would rather go against my conscience and displease God than displease people—as a result of which the false leader continued to harm God’s chosen ones in the church for more than two months. Despite this, still I did not look within myself. When serious issues appeared in the various work that Sister Liu was responsible for, and she not only did not accept the pruning and dealing of the upper-level leaders, but also pushed back with negativity, I should have immediately provided help and given out pointers, and should have exposed and dissected the nature and consequences of such manifestation, so that the sister could immediately repent. I had, however, protected my own interests, and only provided a few words of comfort and advice. When I was asked to write an evaluation of Sister Liu, I was clearly aware that she had already lost the work of the Holy Spirit, that she could not solve the problems in the church, that she was a false leader—but to protect my own status, I had tried to hide the true facts and shelter Sister Liu. I saw that I had protected a false leader time and time again, that I would rather the work of the church suffer than practice the truth and abide by righteousness, that I cared only for my own interests, and gave not the slightest consideration to the church work or whether the brothers and sisters lived or died; acting thus, I was a protective shield for the false leader, I was an accomplice of Satan who comes to meddle in and disturb the work of God’s house. Where was my humanity? I was someone “nice,” who was selfish and ignoble, slippery and crafty! The church had given me such an important duty. I shouted that I wanted to repay God’s love and satisfy God, but I had actually tried to deceive God, and after encountering problems, I always stretched my elbows outward by standing on Satan’s side to resist God. My actions had long since offended the disposition of God, they had earned God’s disdain and hate. There was no end to my shame. I couldn’t help but pray to God: “O God! I have gone against Your will time and time again, protecting myself, not practicing the truth, obstructing the work of the church, harming the lives of the brothers and sisters. I have rebelled against You, I have opposed You, and if I do not repent, I shall suffer the punishment of Your righteousness. O God! I have done wrong, I wish to repent to You, to practice the truth to make up for my transgressions.”
Later, during an assembly, the brothers and sisters reported on how Brother Li, who I worked with, was not doing real work. They reported that he only ever went through the formalities during assemblies, and didn’t immediately fellowship and seek a solution when they encountered problems and difficulties in performing their duties. Later, I sought out Brother Li to fellowship several times. Yet he just agreed with what I said; after some cursory acknowledgment, that was it. Some time later, the brothers and sisters once again began reporting on the manifestation of Brother Li not doing real work, which had long since stood in the way of the church’s work and stopped it from progressing. Measured based on principle, Brother Li was also a false leader who didn’t do real work. I should immediately report this to the upper-level leaders and have him removed. But at the mention of reporting Brother Li, the worry and concern returned to my heart: “Brother Li has been performing his duty here the longest out of all of us. He’s considered an ‘elder.’ I also often consult him about church affairs, and he always helps me. If he knows my report leads to him being removed, what would he think of me? Would he say I am ungrateful? How embarrassing it would be when we meet after that. Several other co-workers haven’t reported Brother Li; so, I’d be better off not sticking my neck out, I shouldn’t kick up a fuss, and I’d better not deal with it until the upper-level leaders discover it. But if I don’t immediately report the situation and have Brother Li removed, I’d be delaying the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life, and would be meddling in and interrupting the work of the church.” At that moment, I felt so conflicted in my heart, I didn’t know what to do, so I wasted no time in praying to God and seeking. I thought of God’s words: “You must always have My words at work inside you, regardless of who you are facing; you must be able to stand firm in your testimony to Me and show consideration to My burdens. You cannot be confused, agreeing blindly with people without having your own ideas, but instead you must have the courage to stand up and object to things that do not come from Me. If you know clearly that something is wrong, yet you keep silent, then you are not someone who practices the truth. If you know that something is wrong and then twist the topic, but Satan blocks your path—you speak without any effect and are unable to persevere until the end—then you are still carrying fear in your heart, and isn’t your heart still filled with thoughts from Satan?” (“Chapter 12” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “… all have said that they would be considerate of God’s burden and defend the testimony of the church. Who has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for God’s burden? Can you practice righteousness for God? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to put your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My will to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart when the crucial time comes? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself and think about it often” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In each of God’s reproachful questions were His expectations toward me. When something happened in the church that violated the principles of the truth, God expected me to stand on the side of God, to have the courage to expose Satan and uphold the church’s work, and have a sense of righteousness. But from what I had been revealed and manifested in me, I was not someone who was mindful of God’s will or practiced the truth: When I saw that Brother Li was a false leader and needed to be replaced, for the sake of protecting my own interests and upholding my image in his heart, I was reluctant to report the situation even when I discovered problems, trying to offload this matter onto the upper-level leaders for handling, giving not the slightest consideration to the interests of the house of God. I saw just how selfish and crafty my nature was! Why, when it came to the crucial moment, was I always being “nice,” and dared not stand up to defend the work of the church?
Later, I read the words of God: “Man’s corrupt disposition stems from his being poisoned and trampled upon by Satan, from the egregious harm that Satan has inflicted upon his thinking, morality, insight, and sense. It is precisely because the fundamental things of man have been corrupted by Satan, and are utterly unlike how God originally created them, that man opposes God and does not understand the truth” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Once you have faith, when you come before God but are still living in the same old manner, is your belief in God meaningful? Is it of value? The goals and principles of your life and the way you live have not changed, and the only thing that places you above unbelievers is your acknowledgment of God. You seem to be following God, but your life disposition still has not changed one bit. In the end, you will not be saved. That being the case, is this not but an empty belief and an empty joy?” (“Only by Putting the Truth Into Practice Can You Cast off the Binds of a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I then read the words in a fellowship: “Can people within the church, who live by Satan’s philosophy and try to be ‘nice,’ be praised by God? They absolutely cannot be praised by God. ‘Nice’ people do not bear any witness. They do not stand on God’s side, and are categorically disobedient to God. ‘Nice’ people do not have the reality of truth, so they cannot be saved! ‘Nice’ people are deeply corrupted by Satan and live by Satan’s philosophy. Others view them as good people, but God views them as humans who do not possess the principles of truth, and who stand on Satan’s side and obey Satan. Is this not the case? There are many such people within the church these days. If their views do not change, then sooner or later, they will come to ruin. If you cannot stand on God’s side, then you are finished” (Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, Volume 151). Reading these words enlightened my heart. Only then did I understand that the reason I always looked out for my own interests and tried to be “nice” when there was an issue was because the laws of survival of Satan—“Better to keep schtum than point out trouble; stay quiet for self-protection and seek only to escape blame,” “The less trouble, the better,” and “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship”—had long since become my life, such that ever since I was young, I had been careful and considered in my interactions with my family, neighbors, and friends, thinking that I would only have a place in the world if I had good relationships with others and didn’t offend anyone. Even when I saw other people doing things wrong, I dared not speak of it; I only looked out for my own interests and lived without any self-respect. After I started believing in God and performing my duty, I continued to act according to these satanic laws of survival. When I saw a false leader appear in the church who brought losses to the work of the church, the first thing I thought of was my own interests; I would rather offend God than other people, I dared not abide by the principles of the truth and stand on the side of God, and over and over again, I was heedless of the church’s work. I was the slave of Satan, and despised by God. This time, when I discovered Brother Li was a false leader, I still tried to live by the interpersonal philosophies of Satan, to maintain my image in his heart. I was considering my own interests. I saw that, living by the life viewpoint of being “nice,” I had become ever more selfish and ignoble, slippery and crafty, without any semblance of humanity. At the same time, I came to know that “nice” people are also false and obsequious, they do nothing but interrupt and disturb the work of God’s house in every aspect, they are lackeys of Satan who are expert in harming and bringing destruction upon others, they are running dogs, the enemies of God. God despises and disdains people who are “nice,” and does not save them or make them perfect. If I did not repent, and carried on walking the path of someone “nice,” I would ultimately be eliminated and punished by God! Knowing this, I realized that my state was very dangerous, that I couldn’t carry on like this; I must genuinely repent to God, practice the truth, and be someone with a sense of righteousness.
Later, I reported Brother Li’s situation to the upper-level leaders. After their investigation and verification, they determined that Brother Li was a false leader and asked me to relieve him of his duties. At the thought of replacing Brother Li—of exposing and dissecting him for not doing real work—I felt a little timid in my heart; I didn’t want to face him, I was afraid of hurting him. At that moment, I thought of God’s words: “If you have the motivations and perspective of a ‘nice person,’ you will always fall down and fail in these matters. So what should you do in such situations? When faced with such things, you must pray to God. Ask that God give you strength, that He allow you to abide by principle, to do what you should do, to handle things according to principle, to stand your ground, and not let harm come to the work of God’s house. If you are able to forsake your own interests, face and perspective of a ‘nice person,’ if you do what you should do with an honest, undivided heart, then you will have defeated Satan, and will have gained this aspect of the truth” (“Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). In a fellowship it is said that “Some of God’s chosen ones have a sense of righteousness; for the sake of protecting the chosen ones and the work of God’s house, they have the courage to expose false leaders and antichrists. Such people are honest and forthright, they are beloved of God, and they are the ones who truly love the truth. Only those who love the truth and have real manifestations are those who truly repent, and they are precisely the ones who shall be saved” (“Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word ‘God Himself, the Unique II’ (XX)” in Sermons and Fellowship XII). From God’s words and this fellowship, it can be seen that God loves those who are honest and have a sense of righteousness, that these are the kind of people who will be saved and made perfect. Today, a false leader had appeared in the church. God was looking at how I approached this matter, at whether I protected my own individual interests or considered the interests of the church, at whether I was able to practice the truth and not make concessions to Satan. In the past, I was not mindful of God’s will, and betrayed God’s hopes toward me. This time, toward the matter of replacing Brother Li, I would accept God’s scrutiny, I would put right my own intentions, and regardless of what Brother Li thought of me or treated me, I must not protect my own interests anymore. Exposing and replacing false leaders was my obligatory duty, and it was my responsibility; I should uphold the work of the church, consider the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life, stand on the side of God, and immediately replace Brother Li and expose his manifestation. If Brother Li was someone who pursued the truth, then his replacement would help him reflect on himself, which would be of benefit to his entry into life, and stop him from making more transgressions before God. And so I prayed to God: May God guide me, and give me the courage to fellowship with Brother Li. After I’d exposed and dissected each of the manifestations of Brother Li’s failure to do real work, he not only didn’t hate me, but also repented and said, “That I am replaced today is the righteousness of God. It is God’s love and protection of me. If you hadn’t pointed this out to me, I wouldn’t have known just how great the harm I was doing to the church was. Thanks be to God! I will reflect on this. Tell me what other corruption there is in me; it will help me reflect on myself properly. …” Hearing Brother Li’s words, I felt touched; I’d felt that exposing his manifestations would hurt him, but it turned out that these were my imaginings. If I hadn’t pointed them out to him, I’d be really harming him. At that moment, I felt steadfast and at peace in my spirit, and especially close to God. So, too, did I truly appreciate that only by practicing the truth and standing on the side of righteousness could I truly help brothers and sisters. Later, when I saw brothers and sisters violated the principles of the truth, I would still reveal the perspective of being “nice” and have fear of offending others, but I would immediately come before God to pray, forsaking myself and treating these things according to the principles of the truth. Thanks be to God. My being able to have this little bit of practice and entry is the effect of God’s words!
After experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and the laying bare of the facts, I saw that those who are “nice” are crafty, black-hearted, without conscience or humanity, and have no chance of being saved by God. I was also thankful for the guidance and leadership of God’s words; they had allowed me to shed the constraints of my mentality of being “nice,” and to live out a little of the semblance of someone honest. Whilst experiencing, I had truly appreciated how the truth and righteousness hold power in the house of God. In the house of God, only people who practice the truth, act according to the principles of the truth, and are someone honest with a sense of righteousness can stand firm and be approved by God. In the future, I would do all I could to pursue the truth, to be someone with a sense of righteousness, to perform my duty properly and satisfy God, and bring comfort to His heart!