72. I Learned How to Treat Other People Appropriately
By Siyuan, France
One day, Brother Chen from our church came to me. He said he wanted to practice presenting testimony in his spare time and offer some of his strength to the gospel work. Due to my past interactions with Brother Chen, I knew that he had a very arrogant disposition, and so I had some preconceived ideas and opinions of him. Furthermore, I thought that those that present testimony must have a certain level of knowledge of the Bible. They must be able to communicate the truth clearly and be able to answer the questions asked by those we preach the gospel to. I felt that he did not possess these qualities, and so I did not agree to it. When he saw this, he said, “Based on my abilities, do you not think that I can practice presenting testimony? Wouldn’t I be wasting my talent if I do not present testimony?” When I heard this, I felt very fed up and I thought, “Do you think that presenting testimony is an easy thing to do? If you do not have genuine talent, do you think that you can fulfill this duty well? You think too highly of yourself. You simply do not have an accurate measure of yourself!” Afterward, I fellowshiped about Brother Chen’s situation with a few other brothers and sisters so that we might have discernment of his state. Some of the brothers and sisters, after hearing what I had said, also said how Brother Chen had manifested arrogance in his behaviors. This confirmed for me that the opinion I had of Brother Chen was indeed accurate. I was never aware that, when I commented on Brother Chen casually without seeking the truth to understand him accurately, I was basically judging him and colluding with others.
One time, I was attending a meeting with Brother Chen. As we were reading the work arrangement about how we could watch the movies of God’s family as we lived the church life, he said, “I think that the leaders and co-workers do not possess the reality of the truth. They just preach letters and doctrines in meetings and they are unable to resolve the practical difficulties that our brothers and sisters face. It is great that we can watch movies in our meetings now. This will help us to understand the truth.” He continued to say, “When I was fulfilling this duty in the beginning, because I did not understand the principles, I had many difficulties. However, now that I have a grasp of the principles, I feel fulfilling this duty is going much more smoothly, and the results I achieve in my work are particularly good. …” When I heard him say this, aversion and resistance rose up in my heart. I thought, “You are really good at seizing the opportunity. You are using the fellowship of the brother from the above to belittle us leaders and co-workers. At the same time, you haven’t forgotten to bear witness to yourself and show yourself off. You are truly too arrogant and irrational. …” Then, we began to discuss how we would work together on the five questions to be communicated at the next meeting. At this moment, Brother Chen offered to be in charge of three of the questions and he even proposed people to be responsible for the remaining two questions. When I arranged for the group leader to take charge of the next meeting, he quickly asked the group leader in a doubtful manner, “Do you think you can handle it? Can you do it?” From the tone of his voice, it seemed like he thought that only he could take charge of the meeting. Faced with his behavior, I thought, “You are very irrational. Can you do this? You just want to use this opportunity as a platform to show yourself off to the brothers and sisters. You want to get all the attention, but I won’t allow it.” In order to prevent him from achieving his objective, I asserted my authority to rearrange it so that he would not be in charge. Thinking about all of Brother Chen’s behavior, I disliked him very much in my heart and my prejudices toward him became ever stronger. In particular, I had communicated with him several times about his arrogant behavior, but he only verbally acknowledged it and afterward I saw no clear change. I therefore felt that he had an extraordinary level of arrogance. He was excessively arrogant to the point that I felt he could never change and was beyond hope. And I sometimes even thought that as he was so arrogant, he was basically not suited for fulfilling his present duty. I’d just replace him with somebody else.
After the meeting had ended and I reflected on each of the thoughts and ideas that I had revealed during the meeting, my heart felt some reproach and great discomfort. I prayed to God, “O God! I have many thoughts and prejudices toward Brother Chen. I think he is very arrogant. Now, whenever I hear him speak, aversion and resistance arise in my heart. I even want to replace him. O God! I know that I am in a wrong state. However, I do not understand Your will and I do not know what aspect of the truth I should enter. O God, please enlighten and guide me.” After I finished praying, I thought of a passage from a sermon: “Does this sort of thinking exist in your hearts? When you think of someone, you first think of their weaknesses, and first think of the ways in which they are corrupt. Is that right? If you go on thinking this way, you will never be able to get along with others normally. … But because he genuinely believes in God and desires to pursue truth, it won’t be long, therefore, before this corruption in him begins to change and disappear. This is the way we must see this issue, and we must see issues with a vision for growth. We must not fixate on a person’s weakness, then condemn him forever, saying that the person will be this way for all his life, that he is this sort of person. To do this would be to judge and delimit him! In saving people, God has not spoken this way, saying that mankind has been corrupted to this extent, and therefore it is pointless to save them, and that this is the end of the human race. God does not see it this way at all. So, we are all pursuing truth now. We all desire to pursue truth, and we believe that, at a minimum, if we keep on with our pursuit, then within a few years we will certainly be able to change somewhat, and ultimately we will be completely able to achieve change of disposition and be perfected by God. You all have this kind of faith, don’t you? Since you have this sort of faith, you therefore ought to believe that other people also have this kind of faith” (“How to Establish Normal Interpersonal Relationships” in Sermons and Fellowship I). This passage of fellowship clearly showed me my state and I felt ashamed. I saw how arrogant and conceited my nature was. I acted as if I had the truth and I was able to judge a person accurately at one glance and thoroughly understand his essence. By relating the words in the sermon to myself, I realized: From my interactions with Brother Chen, I felt that he was young and proud when I saw him expressing his arrogant disposition in the words he was saying and the things that he was doing. I felt that he had absolutely no self-knowledge. I even judged in my heart that he was an arrogant person that was completely irrational and had no hope of change. That was why I could never treat him fairly or impartially. God saves people to the greatest extent possible, yet I was delimiting Brother Chen in every respect. Now, God had exposed me and caused me to see my arrogance and conceitedness clearly. I had regarded my own perspectives and beliefs as the truth and as the standards by which I judged people—I was so very irrational. Was I viewing and measuring others with principles and standards? Did my method of viewing and delimiting people accord with the truth? I was lower than a maggot. How was I qualified to judge and condemn other people? God’s words say: “The people God saves are those who have corrupt dispositions by way of Satan’s corruption; they are not perfect people without the slightest blemish, nor are they people who live in a vacuum” (“Life Entry Is Most Important to Believing in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). We have not yet been perfected and we are still in the process of gradual changing through our experience of God’s work. Even though we may express our corrupt dispositions or commit some transgressions as we fulfill our duties, as long as we sincerely believe in God and pursue the truth, we will be able to change. However, I was not seeing others with a view toward growth. Instead, I was delimiting others with my own perspectives and corrupt disposition. I was indeed being so very arrogant.
I then read another passage of God’s words: “According to which principle should you treat the members of God’s family? (Treat each and every brother and sister fairly.) How do you treat them fairly? Everyone has minor faults and shortcomings, as well as certain idiosyncrasies; people all possess self-righteousness, weakness, and areas in which they are lacking. You should help them with a loving heart, be tolerant and forbearing, and not be too harsh or make a fuss over every tiny detail. With people who are young or have not believed in God for very long, or have only recently started to perform their duties or have certain special requests, if you just grab them by the pigtails and refuse to let go, then this is what is known as being harsh. You ignore the evil done by those false leaders and antichrists, and yet upon spotting minor shortcomings and faults in your brothers and sisters, you refuse to help them, instead choosing to make a fuss over those things and judge them behind their backs, thereby causing even more people to oppose, exclude, and ostracize them. What sort of behavior is this? This is just doing things based on your personal preferences, and not being able to treat people fairly; this shows a corrupt satanic disposition! This is a transgression! When people do things, God is watching; whatever you do and however you think, He sees! If you wish to grasp the principles, then you must first understand the truth. Once you understand the truth, you can comprehend the will of God; if you do not understand the truth, you certainly will not understand God’s will. The truth tells you how to treat people, and once you have understood this, you will know how to treat people in line with God’s will. How you are to treat others is clearly shown and pointed out in God’s words; the attitude with which God treats humanity is the attitude people should adopt in their treatment of one another. How does God treat each and every person? Some people are of immature stature, or are young, or have believed in God for only a short time. Some people’s nature and essence are not bad or malicious; it is simply that they are somewhat ignorant or lacking in caliber, or that they have been polluted too much by society. They have not entered into the reality of the truth, so it is difficult for them to keep from doing some foolish things or committing some acts of ignorance. However, from God’s perspective, such matters are not important; He looks at only people’s hearts. If they are resolved to enter into the reality of the truth, they are headed in the right direction, and this is their objective, then God is watching them, waiting for them, and giving them time and opportunities that allow them to enter. It is not that God knocks them down with one blow or beats them the moment they stick their heads out; God has never treated people like this. That being said, if people treat each other in such a manner, then does this not show their corrupt disposition? This is precisely their corrupt disposition. You have to look at how God treats ignorant and foolish people, how He treats those with immature stature, how He treats the normal manifestations of humanity’s corrupt disposition, and how He treats those who are malicious. God has various ways of treating different people, and He also has various ways of managing different people’s myriad conditions. You must understand the truth of these things. Once you have understood these truths, you can then know how to experience them” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words describe the principles and the path of how to treat people very clearly. They also explain that God’s attitude toward antichrists and evil people is full of hatred, curses and punishment. As for those whose stature is tiny, who are of poor caliber and have all sorts of corrupt dispositions and deficiencies, as long as they truly believe in God, are willing to pursue the truth, can accept the truth and can put the truth into practice, God’s attitude toward them is one of love, mercy and salvation. From God’s words, I saw that God has principles and standards in regard to how He treats each person. God requires that we love those whom God loves and hate those whom God hates. We must be tolerant and forgiving to the brothers and sisters who truly believe in God and we must give them an opportunity to repent and change. We cannot just knock them down with one stroke when they have expressed their corrupt disposition, as this is not consistent with God’s principles and methods of treating people, much less is it God’s will. I started to think of how Brother Chen took upon himself the burden toward his duties, how he had a sense of responsibility and how he was able to do some practical work. I never fully considered his strengths and merits. Instead, I fixated on his corruption and did not let go, and I judged him and condemned him. My nature was truly malicious!
Just then, I thought of a passage of God’s words: “The attitude and way in which God treated Adam and Eve is akin to how human parents show concern for their own children. It’s also like how human parents love, look after, and care for their own sons and daughters—real, visible, and tangible. Instead of putting Himself in a high and mighty position, God personally used skins to make clothing for man. It doesn’t matter whether this fur coat was used to cover their modesty or to shield them from the cold. In short, this clothing used to cover man’s body was personally made by God with His own hands. Rather than creating it simply through the thought or miraculous methods as people imagine, God had legitimately done something man thinks God could not and should not do. This may be a simple thing some might not even think as worthy of mentioning, but it also allows all those who follow God but were previously full of vague ideas about Him to gain an insight into His genuineness and loveliness, and to see His faithful and humble nature. It makes insufferably arrogant people who think they are high and mighty bow their conceited heads in shame in the face of God’s genuineness and humbleness” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Each one of God’s words warmed my heart. I could feel God’s concern and empathy for people and that His care and solicitude were real. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, although God hid from them and drove them out of the Garden of Eden, God still pitied them and personally made clothing out of skins for them to wear. God is truly lovely, and His disposition is truly beautiful and good. His attitude toward corrupt people and people who commit transgressions is one of patience. Due to His compassion, He is able to forgive man’s ignorance, weakness and immaturity. He gives man time and the opportunity to repent. While He waits, He continuously provides man with truth for man to enter into. God’s salvation of man is so real. God is faithful and His love for man is real, not false or feigned at all, but tangible and appreciable. When I thought about this, tears welled up in my eyes and began to flow. I started to reflect on all my experiences. In the work of adjusting the leaders and workers, since I had not entered into the principles, I did some things that interrupted and disturbed the work of the church. However, God did not eliminate me or punish me. Instead, He used the report that my brothers and sisters wrote to make me reflect upon myself, repent and change so that I could fulfill my duties according to principles. When I was negative and weak, God used His words to comfort and support me. He also moved the brothers and sisters who were at my side into communicating His will with me, which strengthened me greatly. During times when I committed transgressions or when I made mistakes in my work, when I harbored misunderstandings and guarded against God and I became negative and slacking in my work, God enlightened and guided me with His words so that I could understand His will, and I saw His love and His salvation. I was then able to leave negativity and misunderstandings behind…. Hadn’t God already done this on me a long time ago? When I saw God’s limitless love for me, my obstinate and numb heart was melted by God’s sincere love. I said a prayer of repentance to God, “O God! I have disobeyed and resisted You time and time again. However, You still treat me with love and tolerance and You show understanding for my weaknesses. Time and time again, You used words to enlighten me, guide me, support me and supply me. You have led me step by step up to today. I am not worthy of You expending so much care and effort in saving me. O God! Your love for me is inexpressible. While You wait patiently for me to change, You also give me opportunities to repent. All I wish is that, from now on, I will practice in accordance with Your will and requirements. I wish to rely on the principles of the truth in my treatment of each brother and sister that truly believes in You.”
Then, I read another passage in a sermon which says: “For example, you are a leader and you should be responsible for the brothers and sisters. Suppose there is a brother or sister who does not pursue the truth and is not following the right path. What should you do? You must help this person. This help includes pruning them and dealing with them. It includes censure and criticism. This is the way to help. All of this is love. Is it necessary to coax them along or use a consulting tone? Not necessarily. If there is a need for pruning and dealing with them, do it. Expose what should be exposed. This is because you are a leader and a worker. If you don’t help, who will? This is the duty that you should fulfill” (“How One Must Experience God’s Work in Order to Achieve Salvation and Be Perfected” in Sermons and Fellowship VI). From this fellowship, I learned that a leader or a worker who truly has the reality of the truth treats his brothers and sisters with principles. He knows what his responsibility is and what his commission is. He is able to rely on the principles of the truth to deal with people according to their nature and essence. He is able to practically help people based on their corruptions and deficiencies. He knows when he should help them with a loving heart, when to strictly deal with and prune them and when to rebuke them. He is able to behave appropriately, have principles, and will not arbitrarily treat the brothers and sisters who have expressed corruption as enemies. I began to think again of how I treated Brother Chen. When I saw him reveal his arrogant disposition, I did not help or support him in a practical manner. I did not dissect his arrogant nature in order to help him know the essence of his nature or help him see clearly the dangerous consequences if his arrogant disposition did not change. Instead, I arbitrarily judged, excluded and condemned him. I even spread my prejudices about him behind his back. I did not exhibit any tolerance or patience, much less treat him with a loving heart. At this moment, I saw that I didn’t have the principles of the truth in the way I was treating this brother and I wasn’t fulfilling my duty and obligations. I understood God’s will and I found the path of practice. As a result, I went and found Brother Chen. I pointed out his problems and offered my help and support. At the same time, I also dealt with and pruned him. I dissected his incorrect perspectives on pursuit and the wrong path he was taking. I also fellowshiped with him about God’s holy essence and His disposition that brooks no offense. … Thank God for His guidance. Through my communications with him, Brother Chen gained some understanding of his own arrogant nature and the corruption that he had expressed. He said, “Even though I know that I am very arrogant, I often just verbally acknowledge it. I have never dissected my own arrogant nature in depth, much less have I truly hated it. Only by you pointing these things out to me today have I now discovered that my own condition is very terrible and dangerous. God is not within my heart and I do not respect anyone. I always feel that I am capable. Especially when the work produces results, not only do I steal God’s glory, I am even more arrogant and conceited because I feel that I am an amazing person. I am on the path of the antichrist, and I am doing evil deeds and resisting God. Today, your warning and your help have given me an opportunity to reflect on myself, and to repent and change. …” When I heard him say this, it really touched my heart. I deeply felt that I had not fulfilled my duties well and that I did not have a compassionate heart. I had not given help or support to my brother. Instead, I had seized upon his corruption and condemned him. It was the judgment and chastisement of God’s words that saved me, making me see clearly that I had an arrogant and malicious nature and rectifying my absurd perspective. I read in the passage of the sermon of the above: “It can be said that those people who really love the truth and who have the will to pursue being perfected all have an arrogant and self-righteous disposition. As long as they are able to accept the truth and to accept pruning and dealing, and are able to absolutely obey the truth no matter what the circumstances, then people like this can achieve salvation and be perfected. In fact, there are no people who are truly of good caliber and really have the will who are not arrogant. This is a fact. God’s chosen people must be able to differentiate. They must not delimit someone as not a good person and as someone who cannot be saved and perfected simply because they are extremely arrogant and self-righteous. No matter how wildly arrogant the person is, as long as they are of good caliber and can pursue the truth, then they are people whom God wants to perfect. The criteria for God perfecting people are mainly that one is a good person, of good caliber and in pursuit of the truth. If a person’s caliber is too poor and they are constantly unable to understand the truth, then even if their disposition is extremely meek and not at all arrogant, they are good-for-nothing and not worth perfecting. On this point, one needs to understand God’s will. If a person’s caliber is good, and they have the will and are not arrogant and self-righteous, then that is absolutely a guise or a sham surface appearance, for there is no such person. One must know that corrupt mankind has an arrogant and self-righteous nature. This is an undeniable fact” (The Fellowship From the Above). This fellowship helped me understand clearly how I should deal with people who have an arrogant disposition. I learned that it is possible for those who have an arrogant disposition to change, and the key is whether or not they are able to pursue the truth and accept the truth. If they are able to accept the truth, accept God’s judgment and chastisement and accept dealing and pruning, they can absolutely change and be perfected by God. Now when I took another look at Brother Chen’s situation, I realized that since he was young, had not believed in God for very long and had not experienced much of God’s judgment and chastisement, his expressing an arrogant and conceited disposition was quite normal. We have been corrupted by Satan and we are under the control of our arrogant dispositions, so we love to seek the limelight and to show off. This is a common characteristic of corrupt humans. Haven’t I also frequently expressed arrogance and conceitedness? Why do I feel that I myself can change and yet he cannot? Why are the standards I have set for myself lower than the standards that I have set for him? Doesn’t this mean that I am even more arrogant than him? It is not a fair way to treat him. When I realized this, I was able to let go of my biases and prejudices that I had against Brother Chen. I felt that the essence of his nature was not bad. He had the resolve to pursue the truth, and it was just that his arrogant disposition was a little bit more severe, and I understood that I should help him with a loving heart and fulfill my responsibility.
Thank God for His enlightenment and guidance. From this experience, I learned that those who live within their corrupt dispositions and do not treat others in accordance with the principles of God’s words and who are unable to take the correct approach toward the strengths and weaknesses of other people, cannot treat others in a fair manner. Not only will they bring harm to their brothers and sisters, they will also delay their entry into life. They can even give others a hard time or punish them, taking the path of the antichrist. Thank God for the judgment and chastisement work that He performed on me during this time. When I was living in my rebellious disposition and was unable to treat my brother in accordance with the principles of the truth, God promptly exercised His judgment and chastisement to save me in time and caused me to recognize my own arrogant and malicious disposition. When I turned back to God, put myself aside and sought the truth, I gained God’s guidance and leadership—I understood from God’s words how to deal with people with principles. When I treated Brother Chen in accordance with God’s words, I truly experienced spiritual peace and stability. Furthermore, I was able to discover and learn from the brother’s strengths to make up for my own deficiencies. I tasted the sweetness of putting God’s words into practice. It was God’s work and guidance that allowed me to understand some truths and to gain some understanding of my own corruption and deficiencies. At the same time, I truly feel that dealing with other people in accordance with the principles of the truth is very important. I only wish to continue putting God’s word into practice when I fulfill my duties, and to treat each of my brothers and sisters in accordance with the truth of God’s words.