48. What Does True Change Mean?
Jinru Nanyang City, Henan Province
When a brother or sister pointed out my failings or did not heed my opinion I either felt unconvinced or argued with them. I regretted my actions later, but when faced with these things, I was unable to help myself from revealing my corrupt disposition. I was deeply troubled by this, and thought: Why is it that others’ words can shame me into anger? And why have I not changed a bit despite eight years of following God? I became worried and repeatedly sought God for an answer.
One day, during my devotions, I saw a passage of the man’s fellowship: “Everyone loathes their own arrogance and conceit, their crookedness and craftiness. Most people change to some extent; certain people, who are arrogant and conceited and lack reason, and who are crooked and crafty by nature, change only very slightly and so their expressions and behavior remain almost unchanged: Their arrogance, conceit, crookedness and craftiness remains plain to see. And this is related to their experiences. From start to finish they do not pursue a change in their disposition, they only observe how others enter into life. And as a result, they leave themselves behind. For they only see the arrogance and conceit of others, and believe only others should be judged and chastised by God. They think they themselves have not resisted God, and God’s judgment and chastisement is only for others. This understanding of God’s word is peculiar and it is no wonder they do not change” (The Fellowship From the Above). At this point I had an awakening. I realized the reason I had not changed despite following God for many years was because I had believed in God but not sought to change my disposition; had only paid attention to how others entered into life and not my own entry into life. And at this point I could not help but think of scenes of me rushing around urgently “working”: When eating and drinking the words of God I never used these to consider my own circumstances. I always taught others and measured them against God’s words. At meetings when I communicated the truth it was only to solve the problems and difficulties of others, and I never looked for what I myself should enter into. When I communicated the words of God’s revelation of man’s corrupt substance, my examples were of other brothers and sisters, using others as warnings while I myself escaped judgment. I very rarely used God’s words to understand my own circumstances and find my entry. … And so year after year passed and my own entry into life remained almost a blank. Yet I still thought I was a man of compassion, that I was bearing the burden of the life of my brothers and sisters. In particular from last year to now, the church arranged for me to partner with a young sister to fulfill our duties together, and I continued to bear my “burden” and paid attention to her entry into life. When that sister revealed herself to be arrogant and opinionated I would rush to use God’s word to communicate with her, but thought to myself: You’re just so arrogant. When that sister could not free herself from negativity because of being refined for her future and fate, I found the appropriate words of God to eat and drink with her and communicated that God wishes to save us, but inside I held her in contempt: There is little time left and you still seek blessings so fervently? When that sister opened herself and told me how she was often suspicious of people, I spoke of the truth of being an honest person, but inside she annoyed me: You are too troublesome. When that sister was in a bad situation but could not say why, I told her to examine herself, to dissect her nature, but when it came to myself I did not pay attention to using God’s word to understand and analyze myself from what I revealed. … Was it not that I thought only others were too corrupt and should be judged and chastised by God, while placing myself beyond God’s word? Was I not only paying attention to the entry into life of others and leaving myself behind? Only at that moment did I come to realize I was as poor and pitiful as a penniless street beggar, and my heart was filled with regret.
Under God’s guidance, I saw that His word says: “People say things like this: Put aside your prospects, be more realistic. You ask that people dispense with thoughts of being blessed—but what about yourself? Do you negate people’s ideas of being blessed and yourself seek blessings? You don’t allow others to receive blessings but secretly think of them yourself—what does that make you? A con artist! When you act thus, does your conscience not stand accused? In your heart, do you not feel indebted? Are you not a fraudster? You dig out the words in the hearts of others, but say nothing of those in your own—what a worthless piece of trash you are!” (“The Interpretation of the Forty-second Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s word, as sharp as a sword, pierced my heart and left me deeply ashamed. I thought of all I had done. Was I not a swindler, as God revealed? On the surface I was doing my duty, but actually I was using my enthusiasm to defraud God of His trust. On the surface I was helping my brothers and sisters, but actually I was using words and doctrines to defraud them of their esteem and admiration, with the aim of having a place in their heart. I told others not to lust after status, to not be arrogant, yet I often looked down on others and was unable to correctly regard the failings of my brothers and sisters and even refused to submit to anyone. I made others give up intentions of obtaining blessings, to not be controlled by their future and fate, while I often made plans for my future and even worried deeply about this. I was annoyed by the craftiness and suspicion of others, while I often watched their expressions and worried how they thought of me. I told others to understand themselves, to grasp their inmost thoughts to dissect their nature, while I hid my malicious intentions, and my words and actions went unsupervised by God. … For so many years I spoke of the truth while what I lived out was doctrines; I spoke of humanity while what I lived out was evil. And so today I have become arrogant beyond words, submitting to no one, having lost all humanity and reason, just as God says: “… the more they understand of the doctrines, the more arrogant their dispositions become” (“People Make Too Many Demands of God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I regarded the doctrines I held as my own capital, but did not pay attention to understanding myself, to seeking entry, to gaining truth. And so how could I have any change in my life disposition? God’s practical work and words provide us with all the truth we need and He wishes us to understand that truth, and through fulfilling our duty to bring the light and enlightenment we gained into our daily experiences and entry, and provide that to our brothers and sisters. But I focused only on arming myself with doctrines, and regarded the talking of doctrines as my duty, selflessly providing others with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, having others practice the truth, while I myself did not enter. And as a result I left myself behind and also harmed my brothers and sisters. I am a true contemporary Paul!
God, thank You for Your enlightenment and illumination, which allowed me to see my failing to change my disposition despite many years of believing in God was due to only paying attention to work, to arming myself with doctrines and showing myself off rather than paying attention to my entry into life. I hate that I am too arrogant and ignorant, that I don’t love the truth, and so have missed many opportunities to enter into the truth and seek change. I am willing now to understand the truth better through Your words, to seek for a deeper understanding of myself, to earnestly and pragmatically practice God’s word and enter into the truth, to use practical living out to repay You.