15. It’s Not Easy to Truly Know Yourself
Zhang Rui Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
I was a deceitful person. In God’s word we can see that deceitful people will not be saved by God; only honest people will receive His praise. So, I sought to be an honest person, to consciously practice speaking accurately, to be objective and practical, and to seek the truth from facts 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 my own corruption. Every time I put this into practice, I felt that I had undergone some changes and I got a little taste of being an honest person.
In fellowship in a recent co-workers meeting, speaking of how we must learn to differentiate between different types of people in our service to God, the leader asked me: “XX, what type of person do you think you are?” I thought to myself: I’ve undergone some changes recently, so I count as a relatively simple, open person. As for a bad nature, I feel I’m not that bad. As for a good nature, 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 as being a simple, honest person with a good nature.” The leader said: “You think you have a good nature, that you are relatively simple and honest. So you would really dare to open up and expose everything about yourself? You are really 100% free of doubts toward God? You really dare to admit that in your words and actions there are no goals for personal intentions?” After hearing this, I felt defiant and explained defensively: “Didn’t the above say that good people still have corrupt dispositions, that they can display all sorts of corruption—isn’t this relative?” I was absolutely unwilling to let go of my own opinion.
After this happened, I carefully reflected on what the leader had said: Would I really dare to expose everything about myself? I wouldn’t. The things that I opened up about were just insignificant issues that didn’t impact my reputation or self-interest. The personal corruption that I opened up about was an expression of normal corruption that everyone has, but I had never dared to open up and expose the ugly, filthy things deep inside my heart. Was I really 100% free of doubts toward God? I was not. When my work didn’t bear fruit, when I was negative and weak, I misunderstood God and believed that I just rendered service, and it was useless to continue in this pursuit. And I did not believe 100% in God’s words, in God’s disposition. I didn’t believe that God would reward and punish people according to His words, so I frequently tested His disposition. When I was out running around and doing some work, it was all just conducting a transaction with God so that in the future I could be blessed and avert disaster; it was not to fulfill the duty that every creature should fulfill. Although there was the external presentation of good behavior, that was for other people to see, to give them a good impression. … Giving some thought to what this revealed, wasn’t it all a deceitful presentation? However, I did think that I was a relatively simple and honest person—isn’t this really not knowing myself? Think of what God said: “… there is always a huge discrepancy between the way people understand their own natures and the way God has revealed human nature. 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; … 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 enlightenment from the words of God, I only then saw that my knowledge of myself was so shallow—I was trying to know myself from within my conceptions and my own thinking, with no comparison to God’s words to recognize my own corrupt nature from within His words. I believed that I was simple, honest, and had a good nature; but it was merely that looking from the outside, I hadn’t done anything to seriously offend God’s disposition. In being an honest person I had stopped at just the external representation and I thought that telling a bit of the truth and doing a couple of actual things would be enough to meet the standard of being an honest person. I really was too arrogant; I really did not know myself! Little did I know that I did not at all possess the essence of an honest person, and I was a far cry from God’s standard. At that time I thought of Peter recognizing himself within God’s words. He always rigorously compared himself to God’s words in which He exposed people, so among all people, Peter knew his own corruption better than anyone and he was the most successful in his experiences. I have followed God for several years and I still don’t know myself. My ability to enter in is still too lacking; I truly am an embarrassment.
I give thanks to God’s enlightenment and guidance which have made me see my own poverty and pitifulness, and have also made me understand that truly knowing myself is not an easy thing. The only objective reality is knowing myself through God’s words. From this day forward, I am willing to know myself through God’s words, and whenever God’s words expose people’s corrupt nature I will be willing to rigorously measure myself against that. I will no longer measure myself from my own point of view, I will pursue a change in disposition, and I will comfort God’s heart by being a truly honest person.