85. I Have Finally Seen the Way of Being a True Person
Xiaoli Henan Province
Since I was small, my desire for reputation was always very strong, and when I interacted with people I paid particular attention to my own image, my status in other people’s eyes, and their assessment of me. So I always allowed other people to have any convenience, any benefits, and I just buried difficulties or grievances in my heart. I didn’t express those things to anyone, and when other people experienced difficulties I would always think of ways to help them. So in my parents’ eyes, I was a good girl; I was a real delight. In my neighbors’ and friends’ eyes, I was warm and generous. After getting married, I also got along very well with my husband’s family. When my sister-in-law and brother-in-law found partners and got married, I was running around like crazy. I contributed both money and effort, and I shared the burden with my parents-in-law. Before long I had become the good daughter-in-law and the good big sister. In reality, at that time I was exhausted every day and I was worn out to my very core because I was always tiptoeing around to maintain my relationships with other people and taking care of everyone else’s feelings; I would monitor their expressions and then speak accordingly. I was afraid of hurting someone else and leaving them with a bad impression, and damaging my own reputation. After gaining these “good names,” in my heart I felt proud, and that the price I had paid was worth it. I felt that I was very successful as a human being. I frequently thought to myself: If someday I encounter any difficulties, my friends, family, and neighbors will definitely extend a helping hand to me and help me out of my troubles. But just as I was basking in my “accomplishments” as a human being, a disaster came out of nowhere—it completely destroyed my fantasy and changed my views.
On December 4, 1991, my husband was in a terrible car accident. His spleen ruptured, his liver and kidney were damaged, and there was major intestinal damage. He was bleeding uncontrollably. He underwent four surgeries in just one month with more than 2000 milliliters in blood transfusions. Even so, his life was still hanging by a thread. The doctor said that if they didn’t continue with the blood transfusions, his wounds simply wouldn’t be able to heal. At that time we had just finished building a house and had also bought a car, so we were heavily in debt. There was absolutely no way for us to bear such huge medical fees, and my parents exhausted all their resources so that my little brother could go to college. They had no ability whatsoever to help us, so I had no choice but to reach out to my relatives and friends. But I had never imagined that these people who were usually surrounding me would, one by one, find an excuse to turn me down, to dodge me. I was very hurt. Later, I heard that a relative who we had helped quite a bit had said to someone else: “We couldn’t possibly lend them money. There was absolutely no hope of curing him, and if he died, his wife would just get married to someone else, and then who would pay us back? And even if he doesn’t die, I bet he’ll be disabled for the rest of his life, so wouldn’t lending him money just be throwing it away?” After hearing these cold, heartless words, I could only cry because I knew that this was the voice of all those people who would not lend me money. But what was even more disappointing for me was the unkindness of my husband’s family. My parents-in-law clearly had money, but they only gave us 500 yuan, and later on when they were settling accounts with us, they counted the costs of their transportation, meals, and fruit from when they came to visit my husband in the hospital. My husband had two well-off younger brothers, and when they came to visit him in the hospital they only gave 500 yuan between the two of them. That little bit of money given by my in-laws was a drop in the bucket for us. It couldn’t help resolve our real difficulties. In the midst of pain and hopelessness, I could only apply for loans from the bank, but the bank denied my applications. In the end, I had no choice but to sell the car for a low price to fund my husband’s treatment. In spite of all this I wasn’t able to put together enough of my husband’s medical fees. I was really out of options, and three months later, my husband was discharged early when his wounds had not yet healed. But I never imagined that just as we were stepping into our home, those we owed money to were right on our heels, rushing through our door. Even my elder sister-in-law came to our house asking for money. Facing this situation, I was hurt beyond words. I ran out alone to a wooded area on top of a hill to cry. I had just turned 24 at the time and had only been married to my husband for one year. My ruthless parents-in-law had placed this entire burden on me, and not a single person around us was willing to extend a helping hand to us. The road ahead would be long—how could I bear that kind of blow, that kind of burden? When I was in the woods, I thought and cried, and thought and cried. I really didn’t have the courage to continue on, and I yelled up at the sky: “Heavens! Why is my life so difficult? I really can’t go on in this world. Oh Heavens, I beg You to take my life away from me!” Suffering is suffering, and practical difficulties must be faced in the end, and I didn’t have any choice but to pick myself up, steel myself, and support my family. Enormous life stress led to me, who had always been cheerful and energetic, moping every day. When my husband saw me so wronged, he cried and said: “You should leave this home; you don’t have to suffer like this for me!” To tell the truth, I also had some thoughts of leaving, but I saw my reputation as more valuable than gold, so absolutely would not leave my husband under those circumstances. The days following were even more difficult. My husband couldn’t do any physical labor, and on top of that there had been three years of drought with almost no harvest for three years running, so I was carrying a heavy debt. Even eating became an issue. Just when I was fully awash in despair and I had no hope for continuing on, someone advised me to believe in Jesus. After believing in Him, I saw Jesus’ words in the Bible saying: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). In the midst of those days of suffering, those words from God brought me great comfort. I also read in the Bible that after the Lord Jesus was resurrected and left us, He went to prepare a place for us, and if it had been prepared He would meet us. From then on, in my heart I looked forward to the day that God would return, and I thought: When God returns, I will no longer need to suffer in this world.
In the fall of 1998, by the grace of God I had the good fortune to encounter a sister who believed in Almighty God. When I learned from what my sister told me that God had already returned and that He was doing new work, I couldn’t restrain my feelings of excitement. I prostrated myself before God and prayed: “Oh Almighty God, my hope that You would return has finally been realized. I have suffered enough and lived enough in this miserable world. I can’t stay even one more day. Oh God, no matter what work You have returned to do or what kind of requirements You have, I am willing to follow You closely.” Later, through reading the words of Almighty God, I understood many truths that I had not understood before. I saw God guiding people as to how to believe in God and how to live out proper humanity. I recognized that all of God’s words are truth and are humans’ words to live by, and that God is leading us to rid ourselves of sin, to live out proper human lives, to walk on the proper path in our lives. On top of that, I saw the genuine love of the brothers and sisters through my interactions with them, and I was deeply moved. This further showed that Almighty God is the coming of the Lord Jesus, that He is the true God who came to work and save mankind. That happened to be at the time of the fall harvest. When the sister in charge of the church’s work learned that my husband was unable to work on the land, she came to see me and right then I was carrying a load of corn on my shoulders. She pulled it right off of my shoulders and told me frankly: “I’ll do it, take a break!” The next day, she found a few other brothers and sisters to come help me harvest the crops. She had even bought steamed rolls, noodles and vegetables for me, and she gave my child sunflower seeds and candy. After the work was done we went back to my house and some of them helped me make food, take care of my child, and some helped me do laundry. Two brothers also bore witness to my husband on God’s work in the last days. In the evening we read the word of God together, sang hymns, and my brothers and sisters listened to me speak about my difficulties. Some of them cried along with me, and some gave me fellowship of the truth. Among them, one sister said to me in fellowship: “Without these misfortunes, you may not have become a believer in Jesus Christ, and you would not have been able to accept God’s work in the last days. Even more, you wouldn’t be able to experience His love and salvation; this isn’t a bad thing, but a good thing.” I felt that everything they were saying was very novel and was all just what I needed. It really drew me in. When I saw their sincere help for me, I truly was very moved. We had neither kith nor kin, but they were dearer to me than family. Experiencing years of hardships and tribulations in my life and other people’s indifference had made me disconsolate, but the love and care of my brothers and sisters made me feel so warm—the long-forgotten expression of a smile appeared on my face. I hadn’t imagined that I would see this sincerity I had been wishing for so many years in my brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God. From the truths they shared in fellowship with me and what they lived out, I realized that only Almighty God can do this type of work and can change people. So under the encouragement of God’s love and with the help of my brothers and sisters, my numb heart regained a bit of feeling, and I once again had confidence and courage for living. Later, I saw that my brothers and sisters would run around working and pay a price for the gospel work of God and I could not sit still, so before long I also put myself into the work of preaching God’s gospel of the last days. As my interactions with my brothers and sisters deepened, I saw that they truly were not the same as worldly people and that within the church, you never needed to worry about who would mock you or be calculating, nor did you need to fear saying something carelessly and offending someone. The brothers and sisters were always simple and open when they were together, and they would speak whatever was in their hearts, and even if it meant exposing some corruption it could all be dealt with correctly. All of it could be accepted from God and no one fixated on anyone else’s issues. It didn’t matter who said or did something wrong; no grudges were held and everyone looked into their own hearts to know themselves and learned whatever lessons they needed to learn. Whichever brothers or sisters were experiencing difficulties, everyone would work together to help them, to put their hearts into fellowship on the truth so that when they encountered these difficulties they could understand God’s will and put the requirements of God into practice. Between brothers and sisters there was no division by hierarchy—everyone came together as equals. The workers were the same as average brothers and sisters; no one was special. From Almighty God I saw the light, I found something to lean on, and in my heart I was able to experience a peace and stability I had never had before. Every day I had an inexpressible enthusiasm and joy.
Later, I was uplifted by God to be a church leader from August 1998 to the end of 2005, and even though I spent quite a bit of time in the church, during this time I enjoyed a great deal of grace and blessings from God. What was most unbelievable to me was that my husband had fully recovered. He could work and earn money just like anyone, and not only did that take care of our home’s debts, but we had some savings. We passed our days in peace and in harmony. I was praying and giving praise in front of God every day, thanking Almighty God for saving me, this miserable person, and for blessing our home that had suffered such difficulties. I set down my will in front of God and said to Him: I am willing to give the rest of my life to God, to expend it for God, to repay Him for His great love.
By reading God’s words nonstop, I came to understand that God’s goal in choosing people isn’t merely to allow them to enjoy material blessings and His grace, but more importantly, it is to judge and chastise the disobedience within them, to allow them to cast off their corrupt disposition, to live as a true human being. Just as Almighty God said: “Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, much less is he able to know the essence of man. Only through both the refinement and judgment of God, only during such refinement can man know his deficiencies, and know that he has nothing, and thus, man’s love of God is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God. If you only enjoy the grace of God, with a peaceful family life or material blessings, then you have not gained God, and your belief in God has failed. God has already carried out one stage of the work of grace in the flesh, and has already bestowed material blessings upon man—but man cannot be made perfect with grace, love, and mercy alone” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In order to more completely save me, God carried out judgment and chastisement of me, from which He allowed me to more vividly experience His love and salvation for me.
When I was the church leader, because I cared too much about my reputation and status, I always maintained my relationships with others in my work for fear that my brothers and sisters would say that I did things for status and that I was too strict, that they would then have a poor appraisal of me. So even when I saw my brothers and sisters do things that clearly violated the principles of the truth and were not beneficial to the church, I could not communicate these points in a timely manner so that the issues could be resolved. I remember that there was a period of time when a sister who had initially been responsible for guiding my work was demoted, and then was arranged to participate in work in the church I was leading. When I reviewed her work I discovered many deviations and omissions. In my heart I knew that we should have fellowship together and I should help her so that she could know herself and adjust these methods. But as soon as I thought about the fact that she used to be my superior, I worried that if I pointed out the errors and deviations in her work, she could say I was too arrogant, or could develop a bias against me. When I thought of all that I kept my mouth shut, and regarding the work she was responsible for, I started to just let things slide. This was to the point that the work of gospel that she was responsible for hadn’t picked up for several months, many brothers and sisters were negative and weak, and finally she was weak to the point that she entirely lost the work of the Holy Spirit and was suspended so that she could reflect on herself. As for my own situation of corruption, the sister responsible for my work had guided and helped me many times by fellowship in the truth, but because I had continued to fail to know myself, I did not know the seriousness of the issue. I had not taken it seriously at all, and after it was over I was still living that way. I hadn’t really changed. In December of 2005, the church issued a sermon: “Only Selecting Leaders Who Pursue the Truth and Have a Sense of Justice Is in Line With God’s Will.” This required us to begin a new audit of the church leaders of every location, and the sister in charge of my work told me: “Based on weighing of the principles, you’re not suitable to act as a church leader. You don’t have a sense of justice, and when something comes up you always prefer to maintain your relationships with people. You are the ‘nice guy’ who can’t offend people. When I point out the deviations and problems that exist in your work, you justify it and make excuses for yourself. You don’t accept it when others deal with and prune aspects of you, and you are always considering your own reputation and status, considering your image in other people’s hearts. Looking at it overall, you are one of the people referred to in this sermon—one of the ‘nice guys,’ one of the deceitful people without a sense of justice who must be dismissed. This is because when you encounter an issue you always consider your own benefit; you always speak and act for your own face and your own status. You absolutely do not care for the will of God, and you do not think of what to do to benefit the church or the lives of your brothers and sisters. You are leading the church this way and bringing your brothers and sisters in front of you; it is a serious resistance of God. You’ve been given guidance many times on what you’ve displayed in these circumstances, but you have not taken it seriously, nor have you focused on changing. So, according to the church’s recent principles for using people, it has been decided that you should be relieved of your duties in order to reflect on yourself. This does not at all mean that you are not able to change. I hope that you can treat this properly and really reflect on yourself, recognize your own corrupt aspects, and focus on change. This will be beneficial to your own life and it will also benefit the work of the church.” As my sister was speaking to me my entire face turned red. I felt I didn’t have anywhere to hide. I had gotten to that age and had always been looked up to and praised by others. No one had ever exposed me to my face that way. I was in great pain and was extremely embarrassed. I wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear. I generally did not pursue the truth and I had never seriously dissected my own corruption, so that day when that sister suddenly told me that the nature of my essence was deceitful and I was being replaced for that reason, I absolutely could not accept those facts. I felt that I had reached a low point—I couldn’t help but lose control and start crying. I felt negative and was in despair. Amidst this painful refinement, I saw the words of God that said: “People bring their ways of serving officials and lords to the house of God, vainly thinking that such ways can be wielded here. Never did they think that God has not the disposition of a lamb but that of a lion. Therefore, those associating with God for the first time are unable to communicate with Him, for the heart of God is unlike that of man. … If you lack real knowledge and are not equipped with the truth, then your service with passion will only bring upon you the loathing and abhorrence of God. Now you should understand that belief in God is no mere study in theology.” “If you are a hypocrite and one who is adept at ‘socializing,’ then I say that you are definitely one who trifles with God. If your words are riddled with excuses and valueless justifications, then I say that you are one who is very unwilling to practice the truth” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The indisputably correct judgment in God’s words stunned me. I was exactly that type of deceitful person who despicably attempted to be dishonest in front of God, who relied on Satan’s worldly philosophy in my actions and resisted God. When I reflected on the time since I had become responsible for the church’s work, even though I had unceasingly performed my duty, I was doing it entirely for my brothers and sisters to see me highly, to satisfy my own vanity and even more to safeguard my own status. When the church assessed our degree of entering into the truth, I heard from that sister’s words that in the aspect of recognizing their own corruption, the degree to which the brothers and sisters in our church had entered in was skin-deep. When I was filling out the questionnaire, I consciously answered the questions with an eye to the aspect of knowledge of myself so that this sister wouldn’t think less of me, as well as to imply to her that I had the capability to lead our brothers and sisters to know themselves. In the past I had provided guidance for a sister based on my own will, which led to a serious problem in her work. This ended up causing a great loss to the church. When the church leader brought this up with me, I believed that she didn’t know the whole story, so I feigned ignorance and didn’t mention my own responsibilities. This type of thing happening to me wasn’t just a one-time occurrence, but a consistent way of doing things. I thought of all the times these types of situations had occurred, and my sister had always diligently communicated with me about it to help me understand the truth and know myself, but in order to protect my own face and status I would make excuses to justify myself. I would discuss right and wrong, and wouldn’t accept the help of my sister’s guidance. This seriously impacted the work of the church and could not possibly bring my brothers and sisters true edification or sustenance. That today I was relieved of my duties and reflected on myself was entirely God’s righteousness. This is because God is holy and He does not allow people to bring the worldly pretensions of their machinations into His house to use. He particularly does not allow all those who carry a satanic disposition to lead a church. In the enlightenment and guidance from God, I thought of His words: “If you are especially cordial and loyal to your relatives, friends, wife (or husband), sons and daughters, and parents, and never take advantage of others, yet you cannot be compatible and at peace with Christ, then even if you send your all in relief to your neighbors or have taken good care of your father, mother, and household, I still say that you are wicked, and cunning, too. Do not think that you are compatible with Christ if you are compatible with man or perform some good deeds. Do you believe that your kindness can purloin the blessing of Heaven? Do you think that good deeds are a substitute for your obedience?” (“Those Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words laid my essence bare as if cut open with a knife. So-called “good people” in the world are not good people in God’s eyes. Out in the world people can just exhibit good behaviors, but when in the house of God if you cannot carry things out in an upright manner, and you cannot be an honest person, in God’s eyes this is an insidious and deceitful person. Thinking of the fact that from the time I was small up until then I was always working hard to fabricate a positive image, helping and caring for everyone else, constantly monitoring others’ expressions then speaking and acting accordingly. I was willing to accept so much suffering and being wronged in order to maintain this image. These methods to win people over truly did work out in the world and I gained praise from worldly people; this was because they didn’t believe in God and didn’t have the truth. They could not see through to people’s essences, and they could not make out people’s intentions and motives in their actions. They only distinguished between good and evil based on others’ external behavior. It didn’t matter who it was, as long as they pretended well enough and they could do good things on the outside, they could win people over and gain a good reputation. But when I brought these worldly things into the house of God and applied these earthly philosophies to my work in the church, this was exactly what disgusts God. It displays a lack of a sense of justice, and crooked deceitfulness. God is a holy and good God, His love and effort for humans is true and never empty. In order to save mankind, He is willing to sacrifice all without demanding anything. When He speaks and acts there is no adulteration; it is all the natural revelation of His disposition. Therefore, God prefers people with a true representation of themselves, who speak and act sincerely, who do not have pretensions. But my intentions in doing things were not to honestly show consideration for God’s will and satisfy Him, but to have my brothers and sisters look up to me and recognize me. It was to establish my own image and prestige, to satisfy my own desires. I was exactly what God exposed in His words as a deceitful and insidious person. Because the work that God is completing in the last days is that of judgment and chastisement, and changing people’s dispositions, He must expose and purify people through various types of environments. And I, as a church leader, could not be considerate of God’s will; when my brothers and sisters revealed corruption I was not able to help them recognize that in themselves or see through to the essence of the problem to achieve true repentance and change. I only protected my own image in other people’s minds; I was afraid of offending others so I kept my mouth shut and tried to always be the “nice guy.” This meant that the corrupt dispositions of my brothers and sisters could not be resolved in a timely manner—wasn’t this leading them into harm? Don’t I have a terrible heart? Thanks to God’s enlightenment and leading, I finally saw that the attitude of “pursuing others’ high regard, satisfying your own vanity” is a harmful thing, that it is a cancer planted deep within me by Satan! But I had always pursued these as if they were positive things, seeing them as the basis of how to conduct myself and even took them into the house of God to use, cheating God, cheating my brothers and sisters, treating the work of the church as a game. It really was misguided and pitiable. I flattered myself thinking that I was successful at being a good person, but that day under the judgment revealed in God’s word, I finally recognized that everything I was living out was Satan’s demonic disposition. It was not at all what should be lived out in proper humanity. It was the judgment and chastisement of the words of God that made me finally clearly see how Satan corrupts mankind. It had long planted deep within my soul the poisonous seeds of leaving a name for yourself, of saving face, the idea of targeting a person but not their reputation and exposing them but not their shortcomings. This was to poison me, to toy with me, to make me more and more superficial and deceitful, so that I would become a truly deceitful person.
After I recognized the truth that I had been corrupted by Satan, I immediately prayed to God to seek the appropriate truth to resolve my own corruption. Then, I saw these words from God: “My kingdom requires those who are honest, not hypocritical, and not deceitful. Aren’t the sincere and honest people in the world unpopular? I am completely opposite as it. It is acceptable for the honest people to come to Me; I delight in this kind of person, I also need this kind of person. This is precisely My righteousness” (“The Thirty-third Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “That God asks for people to be honest proves that He really loathes those who are deceitful. God does not like deceitful people, which means that He dislikes their actions, disposition, and even their motivations; that is, God does not like the way they do things, and so, if we are to please God, we must first change our actions and manner of existence. Previously, we relied on lies, pretense, and falsehood to live among people. This was our capital, and the existential basis, life, and foundation by which we lived. And it was all despised by God. … And so, today, the die has been cast: If we are not honest, and if, in our lives, our practice is not directed toward being honest and we don’t reveal our own true face, then we will never have any chance of gaining God’s work or gaining God’s praise” (“To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks). The clear guidance in God’s words gave me a standard for being a human being and a direction in my life—to be an honest person. An honest person shows a true representation of themselves and does what they say. There are no pretensions, no personal schemes, they don’t work for reputation or their own benefit. In all things they only seek to satisfy God, and to benefit people’s lives through their words and actions. So only an honest person is a real person, is a person that brings God joy. Only those who become honest people can receive His salvation and enter into God’s kingdom. I can no longer rely on falsehoods and pretensions in my life. I have to change my survival methods, resolve my own intentions in my actions, and no longer live for reputation or status. In all things I must focus on genuinely being a human being, acting according to God’s requirements.
Even though I am willing to pursue being an honest person, as I have been too deeply corrupted by Satan, putting it into practice is still quite difficult; especially the moment it has to do with my reputation or status, I just lie and cheat in spite of myself. I remember when I was preaching the gospel and I saw that my brothers and sisters really threw themselves into their evangelism, and were winning many people for God, but my results were never very good. I felt ashamed, and I was worried that other people would look down on me because of that. During those few days I had just borne witness to a new member about God’s work in the last days, and she brought two more friends to her house so that I could chat with them as well. But because some other things came up that day, I never made it. In the evening a sister asked me how many people I had converted, and without thinking I told her: “Three people.” After she left, I started to reproach myself: I clearly just converted one person, so why did I say three? Wasn’t it just for my own vanity, my own face? Before, when I didn’t focus on being an honest person, I told many lies without being conscious of them, but when I started focusing on it I discovered that I lied quite a lot and that these lies just fell out of my mouth. It seemed that I was killing myself with these lies. I was subject to a lot of refinement on this, and I was concerned that I was so difficult to deal with. I questioned myself: Will it kill you to tell the truth? Why don’t you just remember things? I was disheartened because I had never been able to truly enter into the truth of being an honest person. I felt that I was an utter failure as a human being and I even believed that God didn’t want to see me, this deceitful person, anymore. It was so difficult for me to tell the truth, and I had so many corrupt dispositions, how could I possibly change? It turned out that my essence was as the devil’s and I could not be saved by God. Sooner or later He’ll get rid of me. When my thoughts went there, I lost all confidence in myself and began to give up.
Just as I was sinking into negativity and complacency, some lyrics from a hymn of God’s word sounded in my heart: “We should have one resolution: No matter how intense of an environment or what difficulties we are facing, no matter how weak and negative we are, we cannot lose our confidence in changing our disposition, nor can we lose confidence in the words of God. God has given mankind a promise, and He requires that man have resolution, and that they have the perseverance to receive. God does not like cowards, God likes people who have resolution. Even if you displayed much corruption, even if you walked many winding paths, or have committed many transgressions along the way; if you have resisted God, or if some of you have blasphemed against God in your heart; or if you have murmured, or have had conflicts, God will not look upon this. God only looks to see if you will change. Just as a mother understands her own child, God understands each and every person. He understands all the difficulties, weaknesses and requirements people have. Furthermore, He understands the difficulties, weaknesses and failures one will encounter throughout the process of undergoing transformation in one’s disposition. God understands this the best, which is why I said God searches the heart and examines the mind. Regardless of your weaknesses, as long as you don’t forsake the name of God, don’t leave God and don’t leave His way, then you will always have the opportunity to transform your disposition. If we have opportunities to change our disposition, then we have hope to continue on. If we have hope to continue on, then we have hope to be saved by God” (“God Likes People Who Have Resolution” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). These words from God really moved me; in them I saw God’s hopes and I understood that a change in disposition is not a simple thing. Becoming an honest person isn’t something that happens overnight, but it requires me to unceasingly pursue the truth and to have an unshakable resolution. At the same time I also saw that if I only relied on my own will to control and restrain myself to not tell lies, I wouldn’t be able to meet the standard of an honest person. I had to continue to recognize my satanic nature in God’s words, and in all things focus on dissecting my own intentions, even more so at the time of speaking or acting for the sake of reputation or status. Then, I could gradually practice these and through this persistent practice I would be able to achieve change. Thanks to God’s enlightenment and leading I have a path for putting that into practice, and I have the confidence and the resolution to continue to seek to be an honest person.
Before long, in order to change and purify me, God once again set up an environment to test me, to make me perfect. The leader of our church was my best friend, and we had a very close relationship. There was a time that she gave me incredible help in my life, but at that time her own situation was very difficult, and she ended up making a mess of the work in the church. Brothers and sisters met with her in fellowship on this many times, but there was no change. After I heard about that I wanted to go seek her in fellowship, but then driven by my nature, I was afraid to offend her and I made excuses to myself: We’re not performing our duties together right now so I don’t need to pay any mind to this. If she really isn’t suitable to act as a church leader, our brothers and sisters will help to expose that. When I had that thought, God’s words of judgment immediately came upon me: “There have been many times I have advised the brothers and sisters who are with Me that they should believe in God from their own hearts and not protect their own interest, that they should be considerate of His will” (“The Path … (5)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Have a clear understanding of everything that God does, see things according to God’s word and see things by standing on the side of God. This way your viewpoints will be correct. Therefore, to build a good relationship with God is a top priority for anyone believing in God; everyone should treat it as the most important task and as their major life event. Everything you do should be weighed against whether or not you have a normal relationship with God. If your relationship with God is normal and your intentions are correct, then do it. In order to maintain a normal relationship with God, you can’t be afraid of losing out on personal interests, you can’t allow Satan to prevail, you can’t allow Satan to find anything against you, and you can’t allow Satan to make you into a laughing stock” (“How Is Your Relationship With God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The judgment in God’s words made me recognize that if I continued to protect the benefits of the flesh, I would be an accomplice of Satan, and I would thoroughly disappoint and disgust God. God had paid an immeasurable price for me, and at the critical moment I would always hurt Him for the sake of the flesh. Was I a human being? Why couldn’t I care about His will? God had given me endless grace and countless blessings, so why couldn’t I repay Him? Maintaining the work of the church is one of the most basic things of my work as a person who believes in God, and establishing a proper relationship with Him is most critical for me as a believer. I had to satisfy His will; I could no longer live for my own reputation and status, and wound His heart. So, I decided to go and engage in fellowship with her, and through that fellowship I learned that she was in a terrible situation, and she did not at all have a heart of seeking the truth. I knew that in principle she should be replaced and that I should notify the church of her situation, but as soon as I thought of how she had helped me, I hesitated and wasn’t willing to offend her. This was really agonizing for me. If I didn’t bring up her situation, I wouldn’t be able to face God. If I did bring up her situation, my heart wouldn’t be able to bear it. I brought this to God and prayed many times, and He enlightened me that I should give my heart over to God, and not deceive those above me or delude those below me. Under the leadership of God, I finally understood that I couldn’t disregard the work of the church for the sake of maintaining my relationships with others, and that actually reporting her issue to the church would be helpful to her, and it would be beneficial for her own self-reflection. Just like before, if I hadn’t undergone being replaced and scrutinized by that sister, I probably never would have known myself, and I wouldn’t have been able to enter in in my life. So I mustered my courage and wrote out the situation as I understood it to give to my superior in the church. She was quickly relieved of her position. Once I had done that, I felt very pleased for acting as an honest person that time. My heart suddenly opened up and I experienced the joy from putting the truth into practice and satisfying God’s heart. Starting then, my confidence in the practice of being an honest person grew. In the past I was always afraid that if my brothers and sisters knew about negative things in my life, they would think less of me. I was always concealing things, but by then I didn’t feel that there was a need to hide these things, so in the meeting I frankly told my brothers and sisters why I was replaced, how many terrible things I had done that were contrary to the truth and why I had been deceitful to God as well as my brothers and sisters. When I said all of this I was trembling and my face was hot, but what I hadn’t imagined was that after my brothers and sisters heard me out, there was not a single person who was repulsed by or looked down on me. One sister said to me: “In the past I didn’t want to have as much to do with you because I felt that I wouldn’t be able to get close to you. The feeling I got from you was that you had never experienced any corruption, so I kept a respectful distance and wasn’t willing to interact with you. When replacing this sister, I thought that because you have such a good relationship with her, you wouldn’t stand on the side of the truth, but that you would certainly be on her side and speak for her. I hadn’t imagined that you would expose and speak about her. The work of God truly can change people, and through you I can see that God truly is the Savior of mankind!” I felt both ashamed and moved by my sister’s words. In the past, I had always thought that I didn’t reveal my dark side to my brothers and sisters, and that I could maintain my positive image. But in fact, under God’s leadership they had long been able to distinguish good from evil, and the more I put on false pretenses, the more they disliked it and were disgusted by it. The more I opened myself up, not only was I able to gain God’s enlightenment and illumination, but I could also become truly closer to my brothers and sisters. I truly experienced that only an honest person is a true human being, and a person who God and humans like. My heart felt a release as never before. Because I was willing to put into practice being an honest person, when some important work came up for the church, the church leader would arrange for me to go take care of it. Through this type of work, not only did I do some things that were beneficial to the church and the brothers and sisters, but from that I also understood some truth and learned some lessons. I felt at ease and I enjoyed it; I felt very free, and that living that way was very meaningful.
But in my practical life I was not only interacting with my brothers and sisters. I still had to face my family, relatives, and friends who did not believe in God, and this once again presented difficulties for me. I didn’t know how to be an honest person among them, particularly as soon as I thought of when I had just started to accept the work of Almighty God, none of my classmates, relatives or friends could understand me. They avoided me, and I also avoided them because I was afraid they would make fun of me. When I did encounter them, I wouldn’t speak to them from the heart, but would find an excuse or tell a lie to deal with them. I kept far away from them, and I believed that an honest person couldn’t get along with those who didn’t believe in God. I even believed that if I didn’t lie, I wouldn’t be able to continue to function in this world. Later, I saw these words from God: “Living in this world, living under the influence of Satan’s corruption, it is impossible for people to be honest, but can we, having become honest, exist in this society and this world? Can we be segregated by them? No—we’ll live as before, because we don’t rely on treachery to eat food, or breathe air. Instead, we rely on the breath and the life given by God to live; it’s just that, today, the principles of our existence, the direction and aims of our existence, and the basis of our lives must all change. It’s just that we are changing our method and the way we live in order to satisfy God and seek salvation, and this is totally unrelated to the food, clothing, and habitation of the flesh. This is our spiritual need. Is it not so?” (“To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words once again solidified my confidence in my pursuit of being an honest person, and they rid me of my concerns. No matter how they see my belief in God, I am willing to face them with a generous heart, to do my best to put into practice being an honest person according to God’s requirements, to no longer live in falsehoods as in the past. After that, I no longer avoid them, but I interact with them normally. When I see that they are experiencing difficulties, I help as much as I possibly can. When I interacted with them in the past I was always carefully observing their reactions, afraid that I would offend someone with something that I said and hurt my own interests or impact their image of me. Now I put this into practice according to God’s requirements and I no longer hope to gain any benefits from them. Instead, I interact with them out of love and according to the truth. Whatever extreme things they say or lines they cross, I dare to criticize them for, to use the truth to respond to their erroneous views. After a period of time, I discovered that those relatives and friends who kept their distance because I believed in God were willing to interact with me, and they all believed that I was in a higher realm than them. When they encountered difficulties they were happy to talk with me, and I was also able to preach God’s gospel of the last days to them. Through my experience I deeply understood that the words of Almighty God really are the truth, the way, and the life. The work of purifying and changing people that He is doing in the last days is practical and real, and though from the outside it doesn’t seem to be earth-shaking, it has actually made us aware of how to live, how to be human beings, and it has ended up changing us, making us gradually shake off Satan’s corrupt disposition and live as human beings, to live freely, happily, and at ease. In the past, I could never connect God’s work of saving mankind with my own practical life. But now, through my experience, I can deeply feel that God’s work of judgment and purification in the last days is what all corrupt humans require. Only if people undergo this type of work and accept God’s salvation can they live as human beings, and have a happy and promising life.
I give thanks to God’s judgment and chastisement, allowing me to finally break free of the bonds of the forces of darkness, so that I am no longer hiding myself because of the restraints of reputation and status, and I could step on solid ground in the house of God and fulfill my duty as a creation. Having walked this path, I have deeply experienced that God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days truly is to save mankind. Although I experienced some suffering in the midst of His judgment and chastisement, in my heart I am very happy, and I feel that I am able to accept His judgment and chastisement and live out the life of a human being. This is my good fortune, and it is also my greatest comfort. Even though I still fall far short of God’s requirements for an honest person, I will continue to work hard to be a truly honest person who will bring God joy!