Jiandan sat on her chair, staring at the number of articles on the worksheet in complete amazement and muttering to herself: “Why is there such a backlog of unchecked articles? Could Sister Liu Yan be in a bad state? But even if she is, she mustn’t let that interfere with her work.”
Jiandan was a conscientious, responsible person. When she saw a problem like this come up in work, she started to worry. She had initially wanted to call Sister Liu Yan over to ask her what exactly was going on. But thinking that if she started asking Liu Yan about her work when she herself had only just come back from performing another task somewhere else, she worried what Liu Yan would think of her. The two of them had always gotten along well together, so it would be terrible if this matter caused upset between them!
Jiandan took a deep breath, and changed her mindset. Afterward, she waited for an opportunity to present itself, and then asked Liu Yan patiently: “Sister Liu, I see that there is quite a backlog of articles that haven’t been checked. Is there some difficulty?”
“I’ve checked some of these articles, but I couldn’t make decisions on them all by myself. If I happened to make a mistake, the losses would outweigh the gains! I have only finalized a few of them since you left,” said Liu Yan helplessly.
When Jiandan heard this, she realized that Liu Yan was still in the same old state, afraid to take responsibility if she made mistakes, which had led to her working ineffectually. Jiandan felt a little anxious and wanted to point out the problems with Liu Yan’s attitude to her work, but then she thought: “If I started pointing out her problems the minute I get back, she will say I’m too arrogant and that I’m making undue criticisms of her. Besides, our leader and co-workers haven’t even said anything, so why should I bother? Seeing as we live under the same roof, if our relationship breaks up over this matter, how then will we get along in the future? Forget it, I won’t say anything this time. I’ll just pick up the slack.” And so Jiandan once again bit her tongue and didn’t say what was on her mind.
But as time went on, the number of articles that needed checking got greater and greater, and the two of them simply couldn’t manage it all. Jiandan thought that, because there was so much work to do, she must have a word with the person in charge. It would be best to have some more manpower, and then they would be able to do their duty more efficiently.
One day, Jiandan happily told Liu Yan what she was thinking:
“Sister Liu, as we have so much to do now, the two of us can’t manage it all anymore. We should suggest to the person in charge that we get some more people in our group. What do you think?”
“This situation has happened before. There were a lot of articles for a time, but we worked hard for a while and then there weren’t so many. I don’t think we need any more people!” Liu Yan was adamant, as though her idea was undoubtedly right.
Jiandan was taken aback: “Could it be that my idea is unsuitable?” But then she thought: “I’ve seldom worked in the group. It’s beneficial to the work to pull some others in to do our duty together, isn’t it? The past experiences aren’t necessarily suited to the current situation!”
Jiandan knew well in her heart that her idea was right, yet as Liu Yan persisted in her opinion, she compromised, thinking that Liu Yan may perhaps have her own reason. She felt it was better to submit and not to insist on her own idea, and if they had a dispute, it could harm their friendship, and it would then be hard to communicate with each other in the future.
Not long after this matter had been put to bed, Jiandan went to a church and just so happened to bump into Sister Zhao, who was performing the same duty as Jiandan.
“Sister Zhao, the work allocated to our two groups is pretty much the same. Does your group have to deal with many articles, and can you manage to get through them all?”
“Of course we have a lot. But last month, our group took on two more sisters, and over the intervening month they have basically both become familiar with the work, and they will soon be managing a lot more,” replied Sister Zhao easily.
Hearing this, Jiandan felt a little upset. She thought of how her own group only had two people, herself and Liu Yan, and that she often had to go to churches to perform other duties. There was now such a backlog of articles that, if they didn’t get more people to help, their work would be held up.
When Jiandan thought of how their work was not currently functioning properly because she had gone along with Sister Liu Yan’s idea last time, she felt like she was to blame, and in her heart she told herself: “This time, I will certainly explain the importance of getting more people in our group to Liu Yan, so that we can together uphold the church’s work.” That very night, Jiandan wrote Liu Yan an email, fellowshiping about God’s will and how she thought they should be approaching their duty properly.
The next day, just as Jiandan was about to click “send” after reading through her email, again she hesitated, and her inner struggle resumed: “What will Liu Yan think of me if she sees this email? Will she form an opinion of me, and think that I’m making a fuss over nothing by deliberately telling her this by email instead of telling her at home? It’s better to talk to her when I’m back in our group, as maybe then Liu Yan will be more open to accept my idea.” After pondering it over and over, in the end Jiandan didn’t send the email she’d written.
Before too long, Jiandan was back in her group, and saw that the backlog of articles had actually risen over one hundred. Faced with this situation, Jiandan was stunned. Brothers and sisters in the church had written these articles, all using their practical experiences to bear witness for God, and the articles are really helpful to people seeking and investigating the true way and turning to God. Now that these articles couldn’t be finalized, it meant that they were obstructing and interrupting the gospel work! At that moment, self-reproach, remorse and a feeling of indebtedness welled up all at once in Jiandan’s heart. Why had she time and time again not practiced the truth and not upheld the interests of the church? In particular, faced with the fact that because Liu Yan did not really have a burden for the work and was holding to her own views and opinions, the work had been held up and thus she ended up being replaced, Jiandan felt even more blame—she had never thought that her not practicing the truth time and time again could lead to this outcome.
One day, Jiandan read these words of God: “Some say, ‘I am a nice man, and moderation is my goal and the principle by which I do everything in my life.’ On the surface, it seems they have good humanity, that they have sound reason in all areas. Most times they do not speak up and do not express their point of view. What is this kind of person like? A person’s never speaking or expressing any point of view does not represent that he has reason. On the contrary, people say that you, this type of person, are quite good at pretending, that you conceal your intentions, and that you are quite shrewd.” “There must be a standard for ‘good humanity.’ It is not taking the path of moderation. Not sticking to principles, not displeasing anyone, flattering everyone, being smooth, slick and worldly-wise, and making everyone feel good—these are not the standard. So what is the standard? The standard is that they have a sincere heart toward God, man, and events, they can bear responsibilities, and this is evident for all to see, and for all to feel. Moreover, God searches their hearts and knows them, each and every one. Some people always hold themselves up as examples of good humanity, saying they’ve never done anything bad, never stolen others’ things, and never coveted other people’s things, so much so that, when there is a dispute over interests, they’ll let others benefit at their own expense, preferring for themselves to suffer loss, and when they see wicked people doing evil deeds they don’t expose them and they have no principles whatsoever, and everyone else thinks they’re good people. Yet, when they perform their duty in God’s house, they are wily and slippery, always scheming for themselves, without one thing in which they’re capable of thinking of the interests of God’s house, without one thing in which they treat as urgent the things God treats as urgent or thinks as God thinks, and in nothing can they set aside their own interests so as to perform their duty. They have never abandoned their own interests. This is not good humanity” (“You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God” in Records of Christ’s Talk).
God’s words upset Jiandan a lot. The hearts of those who truly have humanity are turned toward God, and they hold to justice and protect the interests of the church. But in her dealings with other people, Jiandan always pursued the principle of “don’t fight or quarrel with others, but be tolerant and patient in all things,” she acted like a yes-man in everything and maintained her fleshly relationships with other people, not even considering whether or not it was in keeping with God’s will. Especially in her dealings with Liu Yan, she always acted on satanic laws for living such as “Lack of forbearance in small matters ruins great plans,” “Peace is paramount,” “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation,” and “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” so as to maintain the good image of herself in Liu Yan’s heart. When she saw Liu Yan’s problems, she didn’t point them out and didn’t stick to the principles of the truth, and when she saw the church’s interests being harmed, she simply turned a blind eye to it. And so Jiandan realized that, although she believed in God, she was not of one heart with God; she would rather displease God than displease other people, and her nature was too selfish and deceitful.
Having been exposed by God’s words in this way, Jiandan suddenly realized that she didn’t understand what principles she should hold to in her dealings with other brothers and sisters. During one meeting, Jiandan sought the answer to this problem from her brothers and sisters.
Sister Zhou said, smiling: “Thanks to God, I’ve thought of a passage of God’s words, and a passage in a sermon that may resolve this problem of yours. Why don’t you read it?”
Jiandan read: “If you don’t have a proper relationship with God, no matter what you do to maintain your relationships with other people, no matter how hard you work or how much energy you exert, it will still belong to a human philosophy of life. You are maintaining your position among people through a human perspective and a human philosophy so that they will praise you. You do not establish proper relationships with people according to the word of God. If you don’t focus on your relationships with people but maintain a proper relationship with God, if you are willing to give your heart to God and learn to obey Him, very naturally, your relationships with all people will become proper. This way, these relationships aren’t established on the flesh, but on the foundation of God’s love. There are almost no interactions based on the flesh, but in the spirit there is fellowship as well as love, comfort, and provision for one another. This is all done on the foundation of a heart that satisfies God. These relationships aren’t maintained by relying on a human philosophy of life, but they are formed very naturally through the burden for God. They don’t require human effort—they are practiced through the principles of the word of God” (“Establishing a Proper Relationship With God Is Very Important” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Among partners and among leaders and workers, sometimes it is permissible to compromise. There may be forgiveness, with permission given to the other party. This is restricted to routine work only. When important work is involved, it is not permissible to compromise. The principles must be upheld” (“The Seven Principles of Cooperative Service” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (VIII)).
“Before, I didn’t understand the principles of how to associate with brothers and sisters, and I was still just the same as when I hadn’t believed in God, thinking that as long as everyone got on well together, then that meant they had normal relationships with each other. So I ended up going by Satan’s life philosophies, and I always maintained fleshly relationships with others and didn’t stick up for the work or the interests of the church. … After going through some judgment, chastisement, and being pruned and dealt with, when I read these words of God and these fellowships again, I came to understand that getting along harmoniously with other people doesn’t mean not fighting or quarrelling and everyone being friendly with each other, but rather it means that on the foundation of establishing a normal relationship with God, brothers and sisters are all able to learn from each other’s strengths and make up for what each other lacks in life entry, and hold to the principles of the truth in our duties so as to satisfy God’s will,” said Sister Zhou gently and patiently.
Jiandan listened attentively, nodding her head in agreement. Only now had she realized that her viewpoint had been so preposterous, because she had also always thought this way.
“Sister Zhou, by you fellowshiping in this way, I now understand. When I associated with Liu Yan, from the outside it looked like we had a normal relationship, but actually it was not genuine affection for each other, neither did we help each other in the spirit. I acted on the life philosophy of ‘If you’re fine, I’m fine, then we are both fine,’ and when I encountered problems, I just skirted around them, which did nothing but cheat and harm her; when I was doing my duty, in particular with regards to important issues that involved principles, I just blindly made compromises, which caused loss to the church’s work and to the lives of brothers and sisters.” As Jiandan spoke, she felt self-reproach and a sense of indebtedness arise in her heart, and she hated herself for not having practiced the truth.
Other people then fellowshiped about their own experiences and understanding one by one, and Jiandan felt even more strongly how important it is to understand the truth. She silently made a resolution: When performing my duty in the future, I will surely practice the truth, stand my ground and not be a yes-man, and no longer maintain abnormal relationships with other people; I’ll take performing my duty well to satisfy God as my goal, and I’ll make up for my transgressions.
from How I Turned Back to Almighty God
Today’s Devotion: Do You Worship God in Spirit and in Truth?