18. It’s Not Easy to Truly Know Yourself
By Zhang Rui, Zhejiang Province
After I saw in God’s words that God likes honest people and hates deceitful people, and that only honest people will be saved by God, I began to focus on seeking to be an honest person, to consciously practice speaking accurately, to be objective, practical, and realistic when reporting on issues. In my work, whether it was an error or an omission, I related it in detail to the leader. I also consciously dissected and exposed the corruption I revealed. Every time I put this into practice, I felt that I had undergone some changes and I had gained a bit of the likeness of an honest person. I couldn’t help but live within a state of smugness.
In fellowship in a meeting of co-workers, speaking of how we must learn to differentiate between different types of people in our service to God, the leader asked me: “What type of person do you think you are?” I thought to myself: I’ve recently had some entry into the truths regarding being an honest person, so I count myself as a relatively simple, open person. As for having poor humanity, I feel I’m not that bad. As for having good humanity, I don’t possess every expression of goodness, but at the very least I feel I’m simple, honest, and I don’t have a malicious heart. So, I responded with: “Relatively speaking, I count myself as being a simple, honest person with good humanity.” The leader said: “You think you have good humanity, that you are relatively simple and honest. So you would really dare to open up about yourself in all things? You are really 100% free of doubts toward God? You really dare to say that in your words and actions there are no ulterior motives or intentions?” Hearing this, I felt defiant and explained defensively: “Good people also have corrupt dispositions, and they can display all sorts of corruption—isn’t it all relative?” I was unwilling to accept what the leader had said in my heart, and was unwilling to let go of my own opinion.
After this happened, I carefully reflected on what the leader had said. I couldn’t help but ask myself: Would I really dare to open up about myself in all things? Giving it careful thought, I absolutely wouldn’t. The things that I opened up about were just insignificant issues that didn’t impact my reputation or self-interest, and were expressions of corruption that everyone has, but I had never dared to open up and expose the ugly, filthy things deep inside my heart. Furthermore, was I really 100% free of doubts toward God? I was not. When my work didn’t bear fruit, I misunderstood God, thinking He was using it to expose and eliminate me. When I found that I was of poor caliber, I believed that I just rendered service, and no matter how hard I pursued, it was useless. I did not believe 100% in God’s words or in God’s righteous disposition, always thinking of God as merciful and loving, so I just did things to accommodate myself. Giving it more thought, would I really dare to say that in my words and actions there were no ulterior motives or intentions? In fact, my running around and working was just conducting a transaction with God so that in the future I could receive the destination and the blessing of the kingdom of heaven; it was not to fulfill the duty that every creature should fulfill. Although there was the external presentation of good behavior, that was for others to see, to give them a good impression. Giving some thought to what I revealed, wasn’t it all a deceitful presentation? However, I still thought that I was a relatively simple and honest person—isn’t that truly not knowing myself? I thought of what God said: “People’s knowledge of their own nature is so shallow, and differs greatly from God’s words of judgment and revelation. This is not a mistake in what God reveals, but rather it is mankind’s lack of profound understanding of his nature. People do not have a fundamental or substantial understanding of themselves, but rather they focus on and devote their energy to their actions and outward expressions. Even if someone occasionally said something about understanding himself, it wouldn’t be very profound. No one has ever thought that they are this type of person or have this type of nature for doing this type of thing or revealing something in a certain aspect. God has revealed the nature and substance of man, but man understands that their way of doing things and way of speaking is flawed and defective; therefore it is a strenuous task for people to put truth into practice. People think that their mistakes are merely momentary manifestations, which are revealed carelessly, rather than being revelations of their nature. … therefore, when putting truth into practice, they perfunctorily follow the rules. People do not view their own natures as being too corrupt … but in fact, according to the standards, there is a big difference, because people only have some practices that outwardly don’t violate truth, but in fact they are not putting truth into practice” (“Understanding Nature and Putting Truth Into Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Through God’s words of revelation, I saw how shallow my knowledge of myself was. I had known myself just based on my external behaviors, from my superficial presentation, instead of knowing myself from my motives, nature, and essence based on God’s words. There was no way I could truly know myself. I believed that I was simple, honest, and had good humanity; wasn’t that just because I could speak some true words and get a few things done, that I didn’t reveal anything on the outside that was a serious offense to God’s disposition? In fact, God saying that people are deceitful doesn’t merely refer to the overt behaviors of lying and cheating, but it also refers to people’s motives and their internal satanic dispositions. That is the crux of the problem. I didn’t have any understanding of people’s satanic disposition of being capable of lying and cheating and being deceitful. I hadn’t really seen people’s satanic nature of being able to lie; without God’s words to expose and judge these corrupt dispositions and satanic natures, how would people be able to know them? I then thought of Peter knowing himself within God’s words. He always rigorously compared himself to God’s words in which He exposed people, so Peter was very well aware of his own corruption, and he was one of the most successful in his experiences. On the other hand, the reason I still didn’t know how to understand myself after following God for several years was that I hadn’t reflected on and understood myself based on God’s words, so even until now I still felt that I was pretty good. I was so far off from what God requires!
I give thanks to God’s enlightenment and guidance which have made me see my own need and pitifulness, and have also made me understand that truly knowing myself is not an easy thing. Only through God’s words can I truly know myself. From this day forward, I am willing to read God’s words in earnest, and whatever God exposes about the corrupt nature of humans, I am willing to rigorously measure myself against that. I will no longer measure myself according to my notions and imaginings, but will pursue the truth with both feet planted firmly on the ground, pursue a change in disposition, and seek to be a truly honest person to comfort God’s heart.