I Will No Longer Know Myself From Outward Practices
One day, the sister coordinating with me pointed out my defect to me: “You speak too bluntly and in too harsh a tone and always make others feel restrained. If you stay with new believers, you will surely cause them to become passive.” When I heard this, I said, “I do speak in an inartistic manner. I’ll try to change myself.” From then on, I began to make changes in my speaking: I lowered my voice, slowed my speech, and weighed my words before speaking them, trying to make myself amiable and kind. Some time later, I thought that I could speak with artistry. However, the sister pointed out another defect of mine, “You’re too crafty and always beat about the bush. When you have something to say, be frank and say directly.” At this time, I had an ill opinion of the sister, but in order to be a person who accepted the truth I dropped myself. I thought, “I’ll keep my mouth shut and then I will not display corruptions.” After that, no matter whom I came into contact with, I did not speak much but acted as a “listener.” Then the sister pointed out to me another defect, “You are not simple and open at all.” I could not contain myself anymore, and my pent-up grievance, prejudice, and resentment welled up along with tears: It’s so difficult to get along with you! I’ve tried hard to change myself, but you simply acted like a supervisor and always fixed your eyes on me. When I spoke straight, you said I was harsh in tone and made others passive. When I spoke tactfully, you said I was too crafty. When I spoke nothing, you said I was not simple and open. How have I offended you so that you always find me disagreeable? … Thereafter, my prejudice against the sister grew deeper and deeper, and I was in low spirits all day long. My state got worse and worse, and I always expected that God’s family would separate us from each other.
Later, during my spiritual devotions, I read God’s words: “The change in man’s practice does not mean that man’s nature has also been transformed. The reason for saying so is that practice cannot fundamentally transform man’s old appearance or man’s nature. Only after man has known his nature will his practice be deep enough and not be observing regulations.” “In knowing themselves, people do not know the root or the substance, but they put effort into knowing their doings or their outward expressions. Even though some people can sometimes speak some words of knowing themselves, they are not very deep. No one has ever thought that since he can do a certain kind of thing or has a certain kind of expression, he is that kind of person and has that kind of nature. What God exposes about is people’s nature and their substance, but what people know about are the mistakes or flaws in their deeds or words. So, it is very difficult for them to put the truth into practice.”
After I read these words, my heart was somewhat aroused. The transformation of man’s nature God spoke about means that man knows his own corrupt nature radically and substantially, and then gets rid of this corrupt nature by pursuing the truth and practicing the truth, so that God’s word will truly become man’s inner life and become man’s natural expression in his daily life. On reflection, when the sister pointed out to me my defect, saying that I spoke harshly and made others feel restrained, she was exposing my nature—arrogance. However, I, who was numb and did not love the truth, did not try to know my arrogant nature through the root and the substance but thought that I spoke in an inartistic manner. My knowledge of myself rested only on my practices and outward expressions. Today, God exposed me with the purpose that I could cast off my arrogant nature and live by the truth. Yet I did not try to dig out the root and have my arrogant nature transformed; instead, I just tried to pursue changes in the tone and manner in which I spoke. How could God acknowledge that in doing so I was practicing the truth and pursuing the transformation of my nature? Now I know that the sister constantly pointed out my corruptions not because she found me disagreeable and picked on me; rather, because I went a wrong path, not putting effort into knowing my arrogant nature but always putting effort into changing my tone and my outward practices, God raised up such circumstances to deal with me so that I can take the right path.
O God, thank you for the inspiration of your words and for your wonderful arrangements. I have gained a little knowledge of myself and found the way of practice for me to be transformed in my nature. I have also realized that the circumstances around me contain your good purpose indeed. Now I no longer have any prejudice against or ill opinion of the sister. From now on, I will not know myself from my outward practices anymore. I will equip myself with more truths, know my nature on the basis of the exposing of your words, and pursue to practice the truth and cast off my corrupt nature, so that I can live out the likeness of a real man.
Zigong City, Sichuan Province