Soon after, three new sisters came to work in Jiandan’s group. Jiandan thought of how she was now the person in the group who had done this duty the longest, and in her heart she silently told herself to be sure to take real responsibility for the work, to pick up the pace with finalizing these articles and to remedy her lingering regrets.
In the days that followed, whether in dealing with articles or group meetings, Jiandan acted positively and pro-actively, she diligently supervised and checked up on the articles her sisters had finalized, and when she discovered any problem, she spoke out without reserve.
While Jiandan was checking over the work, she discovered some issues with the articles a new sister, Li Yue, had finalized. She spoke frankly about this with Li Yue several times, but Li Yue wore an unnatural expression, and looked somewhat embarrassed. Every time this happened, Jiandan would feel worried in her heart: “I point out the issues with Li Yue’s duty so straightforwardly, will Li Yue have an opinion of me? Even if she does, I can’t be like I was before any longer, maintaining fleshly relationships with other people. Now that I’ve discovered some issues, I have to speak up, adhere to principles and stick up for the church’s interests.” After practicing this way for a while, Jiandan felt secretly glad. She felt that she was at last free of the constraints of vanity, and that she could now practice the truth.
One day, after a meeting had ended, Jiandan was happily walking home. She thought of how she had been obtaining good results in her duty lately. As she was the veteran of the group, she was able to have her own opinions and understanding of many issues, and her sisters never had any great objections about her decisions. Jiandan felt that her group’s coordination in performing their duty like this was quite harmonious. But just as Jiandan was feeling very pleased with herself, God’s judgment and chastisement suddenly came upon her.
One day, as the group was performing their spiritual devotions together, Li Yue all of a sudden opened her heart and spoke to Jiandan:
“Sister, when you’re not around, I feel like the three of us perform our duty together really well. But when you come back, we feel a little constrained. …”
Jiandan felt shocked: “How could you have made this assessment of me?” For a while, Jiandan felt her face burn hot, but outwardly she accepted what Li Yue had said.
“Sister Li, if you hadn’t spoken up, I would still be unaware that you are constrained by me. But I still don’t know what my problem is, so afterward I’ll engage in some reflection.”
In reality, Jiandan was silently coming up with excuses in her heart: “Haven’t you said this because I pointed out the issues with your duty and you’re displeased with me?” But then she thought that the people, matters and things she came across every day were meticulously orchestrated by God, and it wasn’t that the sister made things difficult for her, so she must take this from God.
Although Jiandan tried to comfort herself in this way, her heart was in turmoil, and she really couldn’t understand where she had gone wrong. She thought of how she had previously caused loss to the work due to having been selfish, contemptible and a yes-man; but now she was more responsible with her duty and she wasn’t afraid to displease anyone in order to uphold the church’s interests — could this have been wrong? The more Jiandan thought about it, the more confused she became and the more wronged she felt.
One day, when Jiandan had once again discovered an issue with Li Yue’s work, she didn’t know what to do, and she thought: “If I say something, Li Yue may perhaps become negative; but if I don’t say anything, won’t I still be that yes-man who doesn’t uphold the church’s interests? That would be irresponsible! What on earth is the right thing to do?”
For a while, Jiandan felt very perplexed, and all she could do was to come before God and pray sincerely: “Oh, God! I wanted to diligently do my duty to make up for my transgressions, but I’ve ended up causing my sister to become negative and weak, and I’ve constrained her and harmed her. Oh, God! What’s the right way to practice? May You guide me to understand Your will. Amen!”
God is faithful, and He heard Jiandan’s prayer.
Several days later, the person in charge held a meeting with Jiandan and her group. After Jiandan had told about her constrained state, the person in charge immediately pointed out Jiandan’s problem: “Is everything we say sure to conform to the truth? If we only ever tell others of our experiences and talk about rules, then as time goes on, they will feel constrained; only by fellowshiping about the principles of the truth do we exalt God and can convince other people. When brothers and sisters understand the truth and grasp the principles of practice, then they will naturally not feel constrained.”
Hearing the person in charge fellowship in this way, Jiandan felt a little upset, but she also felt that this was God giving her an answer through the mouth of the person in charge. Jiandan began to reflect on herself: Normally, when I talked about issues with my sisters, was I imparting to them what I had learned through my experiences, or was I fellowshiping about the principles of the truth, exalting God and bearing witness for God?
With this question in her mind, Jiandan prayed and sought guidance from God, and she read a passage in a work arrangement: “There is no main role and deputy in coordinating to serve. Everyone stands on equal footing, and the principle is to achieve a consensus through fellowshiping about the truth. This requires people to obey one another. That is, everyone should obey the one whose words are right and conform with the truth. The principle is to obey the truth. The truth is the authority. Whoever can fellowship about the truth and see things accurately should be obeyed. Regardless of what is being done or what duty is being fulfilled, obeying the truth is always the principle. People must not obey status and power, and even more, they must not be restrained by knowledge or fame and prestige” (“The Meaning and Explanation of the Ten Principles of the Church Life Established by God’s Family” in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of The Church of Almighty God). She also read this passage in a sermon: “What does ‘a sense of justice’ mean? It means to adhere to the truth and to uphold God’s work. If you truly understand the truth, if you know how to act in conformity with the truth and in conformity with God’s words, then you should persevere. This is a question of loyalty to God, a question of devotion to God; if you dare not persevere with God’s words and with the truth, then you do not have a sense of justice. What does ‘arrogant and conceited’ refer to? It refers to the satanic disposition expressed by people shunning God, defying God, judging God and rebelling against God. People turn a deaf ear to God’s words, God’s work and God’s requirements, and they have high opinions of themselves, adhering always to their own opinions and conceptions and always thinking that they understand everything — this is arrogance and conceit, haughtiness and self-rightness. And there are some people who do not have a shred of sense, who don’t obey anyone and who have already reached a stage where they won’t listen to reason, and even more so they are devils and Satans. These expressions of corruption, these manifestations, are of arrogance and conceit, and they are completely incompatible with and utterly unrelated to a sense of justice and adhering to principles” (“Questions and Answers” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (III)).
After reading these fellowships, Jiandan began to understand. Brothers and sisters should take obedience to the truth as their principle when dealing with one another, and should not submit to status and power or obey any particular person. But whenever Jiandan had fellowshiped about the issues with their duty to her sisters, although she had dared to speak up, she had not fellowshiped clearly about the related truths. Instead, she had always capitalized on the facts that she had been doing this duty for a long time and that she was a veteran at it; she had acted superior due to her seniority, she had had the last word with every decision and had not paid any attention to listening to her sisters’ ideas. Imperceptibly, she had regarded her own ideas as the standards by which all should be measured, and had made her sisters follow her and obey her as a matter of course. Her sisters didn’t understand the relevant truths and principles and their duty was not heading in the right direction, so how could they not feel constrained?
Moreover, having a sense of justice was not as simple as merely discovering a problem and then daring to speak up about it. If she didn’t seek the truth with the problems she encountered, and if she first expressed her own ideas, opinions and experiences when she came across an issue and made everyone else submit to her, then she was holding fast to her own ideas and imaginings and this was a manifestation of arrogance and conceit. Everything she did ran contrary to the truth, and so she had caused her brothers and sisters to feel constrained and bound, without benefiting them one bit. Only by setting the motives for her actions aright, which should be to practice the truth and satisfy God, to learn to seek the truth and fellowship about the truth in order to exalt God and bear witness for God, then by doing this she would obtain the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit in her actions and she would see God’s blessings.
The more Jiandan thought about it, the more arrogant she felt herself to be! All this time she had fellowshiped with her sisters on the assumption that she herself was correct and she had made them accept it. This meant that she had taken sole power and had been the master of all things in the group! And by doing this, wasn’t she following the path of the antichrists? Thinking of this, Jiandan felt incredibly ashamed, while at the same time she thanked God for orchestrating this environment. Were it not for God’s judgment and chastisement, she would still be unaware that she was following the wrong path, much less would she have been able to find the path of practice and entry. She felt that this was indeed the mercy of God.
Having undergone this judgment and chastisement, Jiandan now had a direction in which to perform her duty. Whenever she came across a problem, she would purposefully look for the relevant principles and fellowship about them with the sisters so that they would enter into them together, and she would not force her ideas onto others or make them obey her. After starting to practice in this way, she really did see God’s blessings and guidance, and all the sisters in the group felt more like they had a path to follow in their duty. Seeing everyone with a smile on their faces and all feeling very free with one another, Jiandan felt from the bottom of her heart how wonderful God’s deeds were!
Recommendation; Christian testimonies