Chapter 95. What Practicing the Truth Is
People listen to sermons often, and yet they don’t know what the truth is, and neither do they know which aspects of the truth they should put effort into. They just listen and that’s it, as though they are without heart. Exactly how well they seek, what they lack, what deficiencies they should make up for, how well they do their duties—they aren’t clear about any of these things, and this means that their hearts are still unclear about the truth. If you want to understand the truth and be perfectly clear on all aspects, on all items of the truth, then when you encounter issues you must first ponder on the truth and the words of God that you have heard, and think: “Have I possessed the reality of this truth? Have I entered into this truth? Exactly which aspect or part of life does this truth refer to? Which environments does it refer to? What circumstances does it refer to?” When you have free time, you must ponder this, and you must have this in your heart and think about it. If you think about it but don’t understand, then you must pray-read within yourself, open your heart to God and come before Him. Most believers’ hearts are not concerned with the truth. What are your hearts concerned with? (I feel that we are concerned with doing things.) Yes, your hearts are concerned with external affairs, with things that happen among people—small household matters, rights and wrongs—and you revolve around these issues; you cannot seem to get into the truth at all. In fact, it is not that you cannot get into it, it’s that you are not concerned with the truth in your heart. You get tangled up and wrapped up in issues, and then you think: “So long as I do things in God’s family—do my duty, run around, work hard, make effort and suffer hardships—then I am practicing the truth.” Actually, you are wrong. You are not practicing the truth. When I say things like this, you seem to feel a little wronged. Why is this not practicing the truth? Because you don’t understand what the truth is. So even though you do those things, you are still doing them in a blind way. You are in a state of confusion, and you don’t do things in a particularly clear-cut, lucid way with clear objectives. In your heart, you don’t have any concept of which way to do things is right and which way to do things is wrong. Therefore, the majority of things people do are just done for the sake of doing them, with no idea whether or not the way they do things conforms to God’s will, conforms to the truth or conforms to the principles of the truth. You have no idea about these things at all, so can you confirm that you are practicing the truth? You certainly cannot. So I take it seriously, and ask, “Have you been practicing the truth?” “Yes.” “So what have you done?” “A couple of days ago I went and did something for God’s family.” This is just a general affair. It can also be considered as doing your duty, but that is just doing your duty through physical exertion, and its relationship with the truth is that you hold to the surface of the truth and you lack the specific details of how to do it. You don’t know this clearly in your heart: “This is practicing the truth. I’m not doing it relying on my own willpower or good intentions, and I’m not doing it for some other aim; I’m not doing it blindly but doing it correctly.” Most things people do are not done accurately and are not goal-oriented.
What’s practicing the truth all about then? When you do a certain thing—when you complete a task or perform a duty—in terms of this thing you do, how should you do it in a way that is practicing the truth? And how is it done in a way that is not practicing the truth and that has nothing to do with the truth? It is also performing your duty, but it has little to do with the truth; it is only a kind of good behavior, and can also be said to be a good deed, but there is still a difference between this and practicing the truth. They are different, so how do we differentiate between them? When you are doing a certain thing, you keep within a certain scope and limit: One is that you do not cause losses to the interests of God’s family, and this you have achieved; another is that you rush all around, and that you are late for your meal and suffer a little, and you’ve done this. If I do not apply strict criteria, then your duty may be up to scratch. However, there is another thing, which is, have you unearthed and discovered which corrupt dispositions are within you when you do this thing? That is, have you unearthed and discovered what ideas you have and what things within you that God is not satisfied with when you encounter this issue? Through performing this duty and doing this thing, do you come to a new understanding of yourself and have you found any truth? This happens very seldom, right? (Very seldom. I feel that sometimes I come to a very superficial understanding, such as “I am arrogant” and then I take it no further.) Then the majority of the time you have a formulaic understanding, and you have no deeper understanding. (No, I don’t. Sometimes when I’m busy doing my duty and then I suddenly calm down, I feel empty inside. I wonder why I feel empty after my task is done.) This is because you have gained nothing. If I do not apply strict criteria, you may not have made any great error in the thing you’ve done or violated any major principle, and you may not have actively gone and done something bad or harmed or cheated anyone, and the thing you do may look right on the outside, but would “right” equate to something that conforms to the truth? This “right” would not equate to something that conforms to the truth, nor would it equate to practicing the truth. There is a distance here; it is different. So what is meant by “right”? (It means making no big mistake with the principles, but it’s like that which God mentioned earlier, that I have very seldom contemplated what corruption I reveal when I do things, and I haven’t tried to gain a deeper knowledge of it. So I rush around doing my duties and then I feel empty.) Exactly, you rush around and become someone who works manually, and who just exerts their physical strength. Therefore, many people believe in God, and after a period of time they say, “When I first started I didn’t plan on believing this way, so how have I become someone who just does things through physical exertion?” What is the implied meaning of “doing things through physical exertion”? It means to render service, to become a tool. Why do I say this? Why have you become people who render service? Do you wish to render service in this way? When you started to believe, you didn’t plan on rendering service, your plan was: “I must believe in earnest, I must understand the truth, and in the end I must rise up to heaven. At the very least I must not die.” And after believing for a while you then said, “I must fear God and shun evil, and I must obey God.” But after continuing to believe for a while, how come you have unknowingly become people who do things through physical exertion? This is because you can never enter into the truth in the environments God arranges for you or during the performing of your duties, and you are always using your physical exertions as a substitute for doing your duty. So you are busy doing your duties and then you are calm and you think, “What have I gained during this time?” You think, “I have been on two long journeys and once I almost came to harm. But God protected me. Thank You, God!” You have seen that God has protected you. But does this count as knowledge? You ponder carefully, “What truth is this? Have I gained some experience of God? Have I gained some faith in God? These issues are very ordinary.” It cannot stir you so that your belief in God and your faith in God is deepened, and so that you then have a more accurate and deeper knowledge and appraisal of yourself, of your own nature, your substance, the quality of your humanity and your own stature. You do not possess these things. So think back about those things you’ve done and think about whether or not you have made any progress up till today. That is, think about whether or not you have made any progress with the truth and with the reality of the truth. If you think, “I have done many things during this time, but I have gained very little,” then you have not progressed during this time.
If someone had been practicing the truth during this time, then would they have made any progress? They would have certainly made progress. They say, “On the positive side, in terms of the truth about knowing God, it is too profound, and I have not yet reached any understanding and I haven’t learned anything from this lesson. But I gain some knowledge on the negative side: About the things that God has disclosed, such as man’s corrupt dispositions, man’s substance, the substance of man that is hostile to God and that opposes God, man’s evil nature, man’s deceit, and the deeper things that lie in the deepest recesses of man’s heart; before, I couldn’t apply these things to myself, but now I have discovered them within me and I can now bring myself in line with them. Within my heart there is some deep, perceptual knowledge and some small perception of these things.” If they say this then this means they have made progress. When you come to have these feelings, and when you quiet your heart, and you contemplate and mull these things over carefully, you discover, “I thought my belief in God was based on a sturdy foundation. I hadn’t expected to think that way when I encountered that matter. That which God reveals in man is correct, and I say Amen to God’s words, God’s words really are the truth, and He speaks so truly.” When you have not discovered these things, you think, “I won’t betray God no matter who else betrays Him, and I won’t abandon God no matter who else abandons Him.” However, through that thing and a thought and idea that you had, you suddenly perceive, “I am so unreliable. I need God’s care and protection. Man really cannot be without God’s care. That man has come as far as they have today is only by the kindness and mercy of God, pure and simple. Man has nothing to boast about.” It is something that comes with experience, when you have such a feeling as this. So is this experience something that comes from speaking, or is it something instilled in you by others? It is something you can feel and appreciate within your thoughts; it is something subtle. During your entire life of believing in God, this subtle thing, these deepest things, they cannot be erased; they can only go deeper and deeper from this basis. They come from the deepest recesses of your own heart, they are gained by you, and these things are deep, so deep. Is gaining these things more real than gaining the empty words and doctrines of “Love God” and “Believe that God dominates all things”? When you have this kind of experience, when you have this kind of appreciation in your heart, you will then have a heart that yearns for God, yearns for God’s words and yearns for the truth. It will inspire you to practice the truth, to dearly love God’s words, and it will allow you to have a closer relationship with God. But if you always speak of those empty words and follow some rules, then you will always be kept at a distance from God, and you will not be able to get closer to Him. When your relationship with God does not progress or get better, then this proves that your life has not matured, and your inner state has not improved.
What is the standard that determines whether or not someone is practicing the truth? When we say that someone is in possession of the reality of the truth, what is the standard that determines whether or not they are in possession of the reality of the truth? It depends on the attitude you have in your heart toward God when you encounter issues, and whether or not you have an accurate or deeper knowledge of yourself and measure of yourself. Some people always talk about some superficial and general things when they encounter issues, and it shows that they are not in possession of the reality of the truth. Are those who are not in possession of the reality of the truth capable of practicing the truth when they encounter an issue? No, they are not. They may perhaps say: “I have encountered this issue and I’ll just obey God.” So why do you have to obey God with this issue? The principle that you follow is correct, and perhaps you measure and define a way to go about this issue within your innermost heart which you then obey. You think: “How should I handle this? Obey God.” You don’t say or do anything else, and yet you can’t help but always be thinking in your heart, “What’s going on here?” You misinterpret and you don’t understand, saying, “God has done that wrongly, but I must obey, I must obey,” and you just keep obeying. You obey, but your disposition has not changed. You are following rules, not practicing the truth. You have to turn the state of living within your corrupt disposition around, and say: “I see and understand this issue. I understand God’s heart. I know why God wants to do this. Whether I suffer, or I’m weak, or I fall and can’t get up, or I’m sad, or I cry, I will still obey God, for I know that what God does is good, that everything God does is correct and that God cannot do anything wrong.” This is different from saying “I’ll just obey God” without any intention of actually doing it. On the surface, that “obedience” is not expressed in any disobedient way. But within your heart there are turbulent storms, and a whole lot of misunderstanding and complaining. This is actually like having a boil hidden within you; although your skin is fine on the outside, there is a sickness within which will burst forth sooner or later. No matter how many years you have obeyed or how many times you have obeyed in this way, in the end you still do not have the true belief in God and nor do you have a true understanding of God. And what does this mean? It means that you follow rules to obey and, no matter how many times you obey, you are only following rules; your corrupt disposition has not changed or been resolved. Through the issues you encounter, you must gain a knowledge of your own corrupt disposition, and you must have understanding, knowledge of and consideration toward what God does, so that you can achieve a true obedience, that is, a willing obedience. Only by reaching this level will you have a true change in your disposition.
For example, God says, “Go and buy a brush.” You ask, “What kind would You like?” God says, “One made of goat’s hair.” You consider and say, “Okay. I’ll go buy one.” In your heart you think: “What place sells goat’s hair brushes? No one sells goat’s hair brushes anymore. Did God have to ask me to buy a goat’s hair brush? I was asked to buy one, so I’ll go buy one.” You don’t understand why you need to buy a goat’s hair brush. “I was asked to buy one so I’ll buy one. I’ll look everywhere for one. I have to obey.” You search for ages and you find hog bristle brushes, hemp palm brushes, plastic brushes and wire brushes, but no goat’s hair brushes. You think: “I was asked to buy a goat’s hair brush, but there aren’t any. Other brushes are also made of animal hair, so I’ll just buy a hog bristle brush.” Is this being obedient as well? You are asked to buy one and you buy one, you go through the process and you buy one, though the names are different—one is a goat’s hair brush and the other is a hog bristle brush. You can’t buy a goat’s hair brush for there are none for sale, so instead you bring back a hog bristle brush. You must seek why God wanted a goat’s hair brush, and you must be thoughtful about the issue, and consider: “It seems as though there are no goat’s hair brushes in the current market. If I can’t buy one, is it okay if I buy a hog bristle brush? And if I can’t buy a hog bristle brush, can I buy a plastic one? And if I can’t buy a plastic one either, is it okay if I buy a chicken feather brush, which is also made of animal hair?” You have to seek on this matter, and this is called being thoughtful and considerate. When you are not thoughtful, you only know that you have to buy a goat’s hair brush, and you think, “A goat’s hair brush? Where can I buy one?” Your heart grumbles, and this is your corrupt disposition. On the surface, you obey, you heed the words, you keep going and you raise no doubts; but in your heart, there is resistance and doubt, you don’t understand but you don’t seek, and this is having a rebellious disposition. You can seek on this matter if you don’t understand it. Has God said you are not allowed to seek? He hasn’t, right? God has said that everything with Him is open and revealed—there is nothing hidden. God is able to provide for you at all times and in all places, there is nothing you cannot ask and nothing that is concealed from you; you may seek on any matter. So why don’t you? What do you grumble about in your heart? Is this not the corrupt disposition? This is the corrupt disposition; God resolves this when it comes to resolving man’s corrupt disposition. First and foremost, you must think: “How come the thoughts in my heart about this issue do not tally with what God wants? Why doesn’t my heart comprehend it? It’s normal not to comprehend it, because I don’t understand it.” “I have heard the thing God has said but I still can’t entirely understand what God means, so I must ask about it.” Does asking mean you have an obedient attitude? First you have an obedient attitude. It is not like this: “I don’t understand, I don’t comprehend. I’m not resisting or making definitions in my heart, but instead I’m using another method to do this and just going through the motions,” but rather it is like this: “I don’t understand what God means, so I’ll ask.” When you ask, your attitude is correct, your heart is correct, and it proves that you are thoughtful and considerate about this issue, and that you are being attentive in your approach to God’s trust and to the task God gives you to do. Does God know this? (Yes.) This is what God wants to see in you and He will say that you are an honest person. How is this honesty expressed? When you don’t understand this thing, you don’t resist or oppose God, and furthermore you seek on this matter; you don’t use your own ideas to take the place of what God means, nor do you substitute what God means with your own thoughts in secret; you have a seeking attitude and a seeking heart, and furthermore you have loyalty and a conscientious attitude in your approach to God’s trust and to the task He gives to you. Afterward God says: “Brushing most things with a goat’s hair brush does not cause static. A goat’s hair brush is soft. When one uses it to brush things that are relatively soft, like woolen clothes or something else, it does not damage the fabric; a hog bristle brush is too hard; a plastic one causes static, and it can damage woolen clothes.” God says this and when you hear it, you say, “Oh, I see. I’ll definitely go and buy a goat’s hair brush in that case. If I can’t find any then I won’t buy one. I’ll wait until I can find one. I’ll just look for one now and if I come across one somewhere then I’ll buy it straight away. Is this okay?” If God says “Yes,” then does this mean that you have understood God’s will? But if God says “No,” what should you do? You must seek further, and ask, “If there really aren’t any at the moment, what should I do?” And God will respond to you, right? God will give you a principle; He certainly won’t talk in riddles. He will tell you: “If there are none at the moment, then take your time and keep looking. When you do find one, then buy it. Then you’ll be done. Keep searching for one from this point on.” Aren’t these words given to you? Every word is a path you should practice, they give you a path; you no longer need to feel your way forward or engage in conjecture. First of all, why do you need to buy a goat’s hair brush? The reason is clear, and this is something that has come from your seeking on this matter, and it is the result of your attentive seeking and attentive questioning. You have the answer, and you understand what God means. Secondly, if you can’t buy a goat’s hair brush, is it okay if you don’t buy one? Continue to seek on this matter. If, after you seek, God says, “If you can’t buy one now, then it’s okay to wait. Search everywhere, look everywhere, and if there is one, then buy it wherever you may find it,” then you will understand and will have another path of practice. First of all, your heart will understand the original intention, the motive and the aim of God saying this, and you will know God’s heart. Another is that, you will know that by when you must get this thing that God wants, and you will know that you can wait for a time if you cannot find it. You will have understood God’s will. Are these enough to make you able to truly and accurately obey God’s will? They are. Moreover, if you are even more attentive, then you can ask: “God, if I come across one of these brushes that are so hard to find, but the quality is bad, shall I still get it?” Is this what you should seek? God says: “It’s fine if the quality is bad. It will still be better than a hog bristle brush and better than a plastic brush, as at least it will be made of goat’s hair.” Have you not once again sought out God’s will? Are you not seeking this attentively? Do all these things come from your attentive contemplation? And what if you are not attentive? “Go buy Me a goat’s hair brush.” “Okay! I’ll go buy one.” You get up and leave, completely inattentive, until you find that nowhere sells them and you think, “I’ll just get You a hog bristle brush.” What disposition is this? (It’s being slipshod.) It’s being slipshod, it’s rebelling against God, it’s not taking God’s words seriously, it’s using your own ideas to replace God’s will and it’s using your own thoughts to guess what God means. And what do you say in the end? “Humph. I brought back a hog bristle brush and You’re still not happy. You must have a goat’s hair one. You’re so hard to please. I bought this for You and You…. Why are You so hard to please?” In the end God will say that you are disobedient, and you feel wronged and say, “Why say I am disobedient? I’ve exhausted myself trying to do this for You, it’s been so hard. I looked in so many places. You just don’t understand me!” Who doesn’t understand who? This is something a created being is supposed to do. You accept God’s trust and accept the task God gives to you, and if your heart is unsure about how to do each step, then you just go do it blindly, like a fool or like a brainless animal, and in the end you say, “I have done every task God has given me without human will. I’ve done everything I was asked to do. I am very obedient. I have never misunderstood God’s will, and I haven’t been slipshod with God. I really love God!” God says, “Where is your obedience?” You do not have the specific expressions of obedience, do you?
You now understand what practicing the truth is, right? Take obeying God, for example. What is practicing the truth? (When God does something that does not conform to my conceptions, then first of all I mustn’t side with myself and ask, “Why does God do this?” Instead, I have to grasp God’s will and, if I have any difficulty, then I should seek and ask more people about it.) Yes, if you enter into this reality, then you are in possession of the reality of obeying God. It is not that you go do something in accordance with what you’ve heard said without having any of these details; doing so is following rules and it is only a kind of behavior. When you are able to go do something immediately after hearing what you must do, then it can be said that your behavior is comparatively standard amongst believers; that is, your behavior looks comparatively standard to others. But to God, behaving in a standard way does not equate to practicing the truth and it does not equate to being in possession of the reality of the truth—this is the difference. People lack these specific details, and they do not have these specific things, right? Most of you, when practicing the truth, get hung up on terminology, on literal meanings and on theory. You get hung up on these aspects, and you just talk about what is being discussed and whatever people mostly talk about during this time—you don’t delve deeply into it. And if you don’t delve into it then how can you enter the reality of the truth? The truth is God’s words and reality is the things people live out, it is the truth they live out and the words of God that they live out, and that is called the reality of God’s words. When you have the details, and when you have living out, then you possess the reality of the truth. Only living out the reality of the truth can be called practicing the truth; if you don’t live out the reality of the truth, then you cannot be said to be practicing the truth. Take chefs for example. Can anyone who wears a tall chef’s hat and wears a chef’s apron be called a chef? Is everyone who has been to chef school a chef? (No.) So what kind of person can be called a chef? (Someone who can genuinely cook great food.) People who can make great food don’t necessarily have to be in a restaurant. Someone at home who can fill a whole table with great dishes, great food, and with famous dishes, can also be called a chef, right? A chef is not a chef just because you define them as one, and what you call a chef—someone who wears a tall white hat and a white apron, who can handle a big ladle, who has mastery over the application of heat and who is an expert with a chopping board—is not something that can be defined by you, right? We do not define what a chef is. Some people do not wear the big, tall hat or the chef’s clothes, but they can take the ingredients—the raw meats, rice, flour, vegetables, all manner of fruits—and turn them into a sumptuous meal that makes all these hungry people who enjoy eating have an appetite as soon as they lay eyes on it. And so that, after they’ve eaten, they all say how well the food was cooked and how most people couldn’t produce such dishes, how the food is not normal home-cooked food and that it was done by a chef and made by chef’s hands—now this is a real chef! Is being a chef something that comes from being defined as one? (No.) Then is your practicing the truth something that can be defined by you yourself? (No.) During the course of your experiencing God’s words, God watches to see whether or not you make any individual entry into God’s words and during this entry, He sees what you learn, what experiences you have and what knowledge you gain from these words of God. If you feel you have gained a lot of knowledge and experience and you feel that you are in possession of the reality of the truth, then there is a standard by which this is tested, and that is whether or not you have a normal relationship with God during this time of your belief in God up till now. What is a normal relationship with God? It depends on whether your faith in God is true or false, and whether or not your faith can stand the test when you encounter the greatest adversities and trials. This is the test that will reveal whether or not you are someone who practices the truth. Is any other test needed? No, it isn’t. It tests one’s belief in God and one’s faith in God, and there is no need to test anything else. If you were asked: “Who is your heart most concerned about?” Some will say, “My mom,” some will say “My son,” some will say “My wife,” and some will say “My dog.” If God arranged an environment in which you perceived His meaning to be to deprive you of the people you like best, that you love most dearly and that you care about the most, or the things that you love more than anything else, what attitude would you have? You couldn’t just say, “Oh God, all You do is good and I give thanks to You and praise You.” This is not enough. Can you get through this test just by saying these few words? If that person you loved[a] was breathing their last breath, could you get through the test with just these few words? No, you couldn’t. Your heart would be doing somersaults. “If they die then I die too.” “Then do you still believe in God?” “If they die I won’t believe in God anymore.” You’re done for. “If they die then I die too. I’ll die with them, I can’t be without them!” You’re done for; you’ve been completely exposed. What kind of faith is this to have? You can’t live without them and you don’t even want God anymore, so is God still your God? Turns out you don’t want God; you want that person, not God. Is this not the result of the test? Where have all those words gone that you normally say? Where’s that reality gone? It does not turn into your stature, and it is not able to guide your belief in God when you encounter issues. Through this test you are revealed to be at a stage where your belief in God is just paying lip-service, and that in your heart, there is no faith in God and your faith has not put down any roots. This is what is feared the most about people’s belief in God; they understand all doctrines, but they don’t have the slightest bit of true faith in God. Why not? Because, during your belief in God, the things you hear, the things you gain, the things you see and the things you experience do not become your reality, they do not increase your faith in God, they do not bring you to truly know God and they do not bring you to confirm that God does indeed exist, that God dominates mankind’s everything and that He dominates mankind’s destiny. You have none of these visions. When you are without these visions, your foundation is unstable and, when you encounter an issue, you are then shaken and blown over by a small gust of wind.
Is practicing the truth important? How does someone’s true belief in God come about? (From experience.) And how is that? (Whenever someone comes across small matters, they go through a seeking process and they slowly come to know God. As they gain more experience, they slowly come to accumulate a genuine knowledge of God that is not paying lip-service, but which is something seen in their heart, and this genuine knowledge of God comes by experiencing in this way, one step at a time.) That is, the God that you both believe in in your heart and acknowledge in words lives within your heart, and no one can take Him from you. Just like Job. His friends said, “You have sinned and you have offended God. Make haste and pray to Jehovah God to pardon you.” And what did Job say? He didn’t think the way they did. Why not? Throughout his experience of decades of life, his knowledge of God was not that “God is the God who blesses man, He is the God who has mercy on man and God never deprives man of anything.” This is not the way he knew God. His experience was that God can both deprive you of things and He can bestow things on you. At the same time as bestowing things on you, God can sometimes also judge and chastise you, and can sometimes reproach and discipline you, chasten you and punish you. The things God does to man cannot be defined by the minds, the thinking, or the imaginings of man. Therefore, over several decades of his life, Job came up with this summary: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). By this he meant that, no matter what God does, whether good things happen or bad things happen, it is God who does the good things and Satan wouldn’t dare do the bad things if God did not allow it. God dominates all and you mustn’t be afraid; you are in God’s hands, there is nothing to fear. Even if you fall into Satan’s hands, Satan wouldn’t dare to touch you without God’s permission; that is to say, if you fall into Satan’s hands, this is also God’s domination. Job had such a knowledge of God, therefore he didn’t complain no matter what God did. That is to say, all the different kinds of ghosts, demons and spirits in the world, as well as angels—none of them are God. And who is it that dominates all things? Who dominates mankind and dominates everything? It is God. In plain language, God is the greatest. What a person’s family is like, whether they are rich or poor, whether they live a comfortable life or a painful life, what their life is like, how long they will live—all these things are in God’s hands, and this is an aspect which Job had profound personal experience of. Why did he experience this so profoundly? In the issues he encountered during his life, he didn’t just experience this aspect once or twice; he had profound experience of it. That is, every time Job was able to realize that what was happening to him was due to God’s domination, every time something like this came upon him, it became engraved on his heart and it made him come to appreciate and feel deeply that this was not something that had happened by accident, that it had not arisen from the will of man or from Satan, but that it was God’s doing and that man should not complain.
How do you practice not complaining? (When I encounter issues, at the very least I must start by obeying. Take Job for example; although he didn’t understand God’s will in the environment God arranged for him, he had an obedient heart, because in his previous experience he had seen God. Although it was very painful for him and he suffered so much, he had an obedient heart. He didn’t make judgments himself, nor did he put up any resistance. He accepted it from the first, and he also went seeking.) What is it that he learned? “God is supreme, God is wise. No matter what God does, even though you know that God has done this type of thing before, this time you don’t make judgments yourself about the intention of what God does to you, and if you don’t know what God’s good will is, then just seek and wait and then you obey; this is the best way to practice and it is the best path of practice. Otherwise you will later be ashamed and humiliated.” Job had a profound appreciation of these things. If you always misunderstand God then you will not be able to gain these things, and if you cannot gain these things then you will have a distant relationship with God. If you always misunderstand God, you will certainly be far from Him and you will be unable to understand Him, and if you cannot understand Him then you will not have a true obedience, and if you do not have a true obedience then you will never be able to achieve a true knowledge of God. Regardless of the painstaking price He pays for you or what kind of environments He arranges for you, God speaks and works so that you may finally come to know Him. And when you know Him, then your relationship with Him gets closer and closer and more and more normal. God doesn’t do things without rhyme or reason, and He doesn’t do things to people just to alleviate His boredom. Just as Peter said, whether God treats someone as a plaything or however else He treats them, everything God does is good. How was he able to say this? (Peter also saw this during his experiences, which is similar to what Job understood, that no matter what God does, His will is always good.) Sometimes people cannot appreciate God’s goodness, so what can you do? You must wait and understand. Even though Job and Peter lived at different times and against different backgrounds, and although the matters they experienced were not the same and the words they said and the language they used were not the same, their path of practice was the same, the way they practiced was the same and the state they had in their approach to God when they encountered issues was the same; they just used different language to express these things. And finally, what did they allow later generations to see? Practicing obedience is correct, and whilst practicing obedience, you seek and wait for God to tell you His will without being anxious. You must first and foremost be in this state and adopt this attitude—this is the correct way to be. If, when you encounter issues, you fret, you’re jumpy and you pat your thighs, saying, “God has really done wrong here, I just don’t understand! By doing this, God isn’t treating people like people and I really can’t obey, it’s unreasonable and unacceptable!” then your mind, conceptions and imaginings have emerged here. Are you still worthy of God’s guidance? Obedience is not just sounding obedient and talking doctrines, and obedience is not merely expressing a little resolution and exercising restraint—it’s not that simple. When you obey God, then your result, your harvest, is that you will come to know God, and you will come to understand the environments God arranges for you and have a true appreciation. That is, you will come to understand God’s heart. What heart of God? God’s heart of good intentions and His exasperation at man’s failure to be good. God doesn’t want you to live in your corrupt disposition; He wants you to cast off your corrupt disposition and He has no choice but to use this method—to have your guts for garters, to judge and chastise you, to deal with and prune you, to reproach you, to discipline you—even to the point where man sees God’s actions as inconsiderate and that He plays with you, so what then do you do? At times when God does things like this, when He acts this way, it is enough for you to be able to understand God’s good intentions, and that is true obedience.
How did Job understand what happened to him? “That which Jehovah God gave to me He wants to take away. He is God and He may take what He likes. Everything I have came from Him. If He doesn’t want me to have these things then He has every right to take them, for He is God and He has this right. It is not for me to tell Him no, and it is not for me to reject Him, for everything I have came from God.” He understood it this way, he acted this way and he experienced this way. He understood it this way at that time, and what was his determination? “I must understand God, I must act reasonably and be a reasonable man. All this was bestowed by God. Whenever He wants to take it away He may help Himself. I must not argue with Him, for that would be rebellious. If I reject God then that will cause Him grief, and that is not being a truly good man or a genuine created being.” What happened in the end? He practiced in this way, and so what effect, what achievement did his practice bring to him? In actual fact, the real result was not that he became even richer or that he had more cows and sheep than before, or that his sons and daughters were more beautiful than those he had before; these are graces incidentally given to man by God. That which God really allows man to gain is that, through this matter, you gain a better understanding of Him, have a closer relationship with Him and your heart draws closer to God’s heart, and when God does something else, you will understand, and you won’t say rebellious things or blasphemous things or things that cause God to grieve. Isn’t this casting off your corrupt disposition? This is a complete change. (The things within my nature are no longer able to control me.) They are not able to control you anymore, you are not under their jurisdiction anymore but you are under God’s jurisdiction, for God is able to orchestrate you no matter what He does, and you belong to God. At that time, Job had this state and he had this attitude, and he also acted this way, he entered this kind of reality and, in the end, God appeared to him. When God appeared to Job, whether He showed His face or His back to Job, was Job’s understanding of God deepened, or was it lessened? (It was deepened.) It certainly was; it couldn’t go backward. So with man being able to see God, that is, from previous times when man heard there was a God by the hearing of the ear in legends, and the mentality of this vague “He seems to exist” and “Does He exist,” to where man sees God, and establishes and confirms God’s existence—compared with the grace God bestows on man, which is more of a blessing to man? (Seeing God is more of a blessing.) This is for sure. So what do people always think when they believe in God but they don’t understand the truth? “God protect me and be kind to me; think highly of me, God, and elevate me from the crowd. God bless my whole family so that we live in bliss, joy and safety. God allow me to be able to preach wherever I go so that other people are envious of me and admire me….” You want to gain these things but you don’t know what is real or what God wants to bestow on you and give to you. You just ask for these external things, and what happens when this is all you do? You become further and further from God. You are unable to gain knowledge of God, and so your relationship with God won’t be as close as your relationship with God would be if you knew God, right?
The process of practicing the truth and of entering the reality of the truth is actually a process of getting to know yourself, and it is a process of casting off your corrupt disposition; it is also a process of having association face-to-face with God and at the same time it is a process of getting to know God. You said that you have practiced the truth, but how come you haven’t come to know God? How come your relationship with God has not gotten closer? You’re whispering every day, always opening your heart to God and praying, so do you think at this stage that your relationship with God has gotten closer? Do you think that your faith in God has increased? Do you think that, over this period of time, you understand God more, that you complain less, that you misunderstand less and are less rebellious? If you don’t think that this is the case, and that you are still as you were before, then that means that you are not practicing the truth. (We must reflect like this after a period of time and measure whether or not we have changed in this way during this time and whether or not we have come to know God. If the answer is no, then that shows that we simply haven’t been practicing the truth and haven’t had any dealings with God.) This would mean that this time has been wasted and that you have been exerting only physical effort. (If someone doesn’t seek the truth, then no matter how they do their duty, they are just rendering service.) That is your choice and it is the path you walk. No one makes you render service, or makes you do things through physical exertion, and no one is stopping you from practicing the truth. That is your own choice and that is the path you walk. There is a door for people to take but you don’t take it. You’d rather use the dog flap, and when you emerge from it, people say, “You’re a dog.” And you say, “You’re calling me names!” Don’t you bring this on yourself? When people don’t practice the truth and when they don’t seek the truth, they involuntarily become members of the service-doers, then they join hands and together they render service, they pull themselves up and are self-reliant.
Practicing the truth is so strenuous for people. After they walk the path for a while, they begin to render service. With difficulty, they get some result and reap some harvest from practicing the truth and, afterward, without knowing where they’ve gone, they deviate and they’re rendering service again. And they don’t even know that they’re rendering service. So you must reflect on yourselves and examine yourselves carefully after some time has gone by, and then fellowship together and share with each other the results you have gained over this time period. You say: “I still have many misunderstandings about God, and there is much that I still haven’t resolved.” And the other person says: “During this time period, I feel as though I have understood a little about God’s heart.” “How have you understood this?” “God making people suffer is a good thing. I used to be afraid to suffer. The minute someone mentioned suffering I used to get goose bumps all over and I wanted to hide and wanted to run away. Now I feel that, through suffering a little, I become quieter. And when I can be quiet before God, then I will not be likely to focus on external affairs. Suffering is a good thing; God therefore always arranges some difficult environments for people. I feel as though I understand a little and have perceived a little about God’s purpose and about His intentions, and I know that what God does is good.” This is how you have to fellowship, and by fellowshiping in this way you will reap results. When a few people get together in their free time to fellowship, saying, “So-and-so is not believing earnestly again. So-and-so, their states have been pretty good over this time period,” can they gain anything by fellowshiping these things? When people are done talking about things like small household matters or rights and wrongs, these things that can easily make people bicker, then everyone thinks that this period of time has not been spent in vain and that it has been very substantial, and they feel they have been talking about things to do with believing in God or God’s family. But there is something not quite right—why does your heart not feel assured? You must learn how to fellowship about the truth, how to understand the truth, how to strive for the truth, and when you do then the Holy Spirit will work and will enlighten you. Take your deficiencies in the aspect of life entry or the things you think you should do and turn them into your own burden and place it in your heart, and keep them in mind. Wherever you go, when you see a brother or sister and you see that they seem to understand a little, ask them and have fellowship with them. Don’t you gain more by doing things this way? If you never raise anything, and you just shoot the breeze together with others in your free time, then do you gain anything by doing this? “Doesn’t matter whether we’ve gained anything or not, it’s fine in any case as we haven’t been idle.” (Many times, when we talk about our work, we just talk about work. We discuss it together and when we’re done discussing it then we leave it there, and we have no entry into life.) Most of the time, you don’t know how to fellowship. Actually, when you discuss your work, you can also discuss things about life entry: “I had an idea about this matter at that time, but I felt that I had no experience of this aspect and that I could not ascertain how to do it. So I didn’t say anything, and I was calculating. This was me being deceitful and being irresponsible with my work. I have now realized this, and I have to change.” Then someone hears this and thinks, “You can fellowship like this, so I am also learning to open myself up to you.” They say, “I felt that what I did was correct, and that you had to listen to me. I felt that if you didn’t listen to me then who else would you listen to? I felt that I was better than you and that you should have listened to me. This was me being arrogant.” Isn’t this fellowshiping? Talking about your work does not interfere with fellowshiping about life entry.
After you have experienced some things, then make a record of what you saw in these things, what you realized, and what experience and knowledge you have inside you. And after you have made a record of these things, then mull it over in your own time, contemplate it, and sometimes you will discover the enlightenment of God within this record, and then you must contemplate based on this enlightenment. You must learn to take notes of your spiritual devotions and write them down in formal articles. Don’t write in a disjointed way or write whatever pops into your head. You must make an article out of your notes, learn how to correct your own writing, standardize your own language and formalize the grammar and layout. Slowly, through the accumulation of small diary entries, your writing will increasingly become like an article and, and you will gradually be able to write long articles. When people cannot write articles then expressing themselves in speech becomes a problem. If you cannot write an article then you will be incapable of reflection or contemplation, and you won’t know how to express anything. Because when someone writes an article, they use their minds and they have the time to contemplate how they should express a sentence both in grammatical terms and also in terms of how to present their thoughts; they have the time and they use their minds to approach this matter in a detailed way. People don’t need to do this when they speak. Speaking is just saying whatever comes to mind, saying whatever is in your hearts, your brains filtering it and turning it into language, without any strict criteria. The criteria for an article are strict. The structure, logic, as well as the thinking and grammar, all need strict criteria. Therefore, the more you train in this aspect, the more progress you will make. Beginning with writing small articles, you will slowly come to be able to write long articles. Then, slowly, you will come to be able to write film scripts. Anyone who is educated, who has any of the fundamentals of writing and who has learned to write articles should be able to achieve this; it just depends on whether you make the effort or not. If you don’t make the effort then you will reap no results, and you will be left empty-handed. It’s like learning to cook. When most people learn to cook, they all start with making stir-fried tomatoes with eggs, with the simplest of things. They put some oil in the wok, crack an egg into the oil when it begins to smoke, and the egg starts to crackle and sizzle. When the dish is done and they taste it, it’s a little bland, so they add some salt, and they remember next time to add salt when they crack the egg into the wok. Gradually, you are able to cook more than just stir-fried tomatoes with eggs; you can also cook chopped green onion with eggs and crisp fried tofu with eggs. You are able to cook more and more dishes, and gradually you can also cook stir-fried vegetables. This comes with training. If you make the effort, then after a year or two you will reap results.
It’s not actually difficult to write articles. Why is that? If you write an article as though it were a piece of embroidery, then it is no longer an article, and your motive is incorrect in the first place. You must firstly think of writing an article as you saying the things that are in your heart. You have things in your heart that you want to say to someone, but you don’t know who to tell them to, so you write down what you want to say bit by bit, and then when you read it yourself, you think “This sentence is wrong, it’s in the wrong order with that sentence. That sentence should be placed at the beginning.” The sentence sequence gradually gets smoother and smoother. The article’s language structure and style should be frank and straight-talking. Begin in the simplest way, by writing using straightforward language. This is not hard to do. People always regard writing articles as kind of complicated science, when in fact it is not, and it is not some mystery. When you write more and more and are able to express things in a formal way, slowly your spoken language will also get better and better, will become more and more refined, more and more logical and philosophic. In this way, you will be able to verbally express the things you think in your heart and in your mind as if it were in written form, and when people hear you speak, they will understand what you say. But first your writing ability must pass the grade. You have to make effort in every aspect; if you don’t, then you won’t reap any results.
a. The original text omits “you loved.”