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One day in October, when Brother Yang and I went to the Yang village to spread the gospel, we passed by a paddy field and saw villagers harvesting paddy under the hot sun. I couldn’t help but stop and think: The paddy at home should be harvested as well, is my wife able to do it alone? At this moment, Brother Yang seemed to read my mind and said: “Brother Wen, your family’s paddy should also be able to be harvested, right? It’s so rare to see people like you who are able to abandon their families to spread the gospel for so many years!”
I smiled faintly, and said: “Thanks be to the Lord! Brother Yang, I want to discuss something with you. I have been thinking about this question recently: These years, even though we have worked hard for the Lord and abandoned our families and jobs for Him, spreading His gospel all over the place, supporting negative and weak brothers and sisters, are we really considered as the ones who love the Lord? Will we be brought into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns?”
Brother Yang said confidently and firmly: “Thesaid: ‘Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundred times now in this time… and in the world to come ’ (Mark 10:29-30). The Lord Jesus has said very clearly. If we are able to abandon everything to work hard and pay a price for the Lord, spreading the gospel to expand churches and shepherding brothers and sisters, then we are in line with His will. If we do what the Lord says, then we are people who love God, and when the Lord returns He will bring us into the kingdom of heaven, this can’t be doubted.”
I said: “Brother Yang, I used to think about it like you. However, one day I saw the Lord Jesus said: ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity’ (Matthew 7:22-23). These people who preached, cast out devils and performed miracles in the name of the Lord must have suffered and abandoned a lot. It stands to reason that they should be the ones who loved the Lord, but why did the Lord Jesus still condemn them and called them as evil-doers? After reading these words, I feel that we may have wrongly interpreted what the Lord Jesus said. We can’t just say now we are the ones who love the Lord, what do you think?”
After a short silence, Brother Yang said: “You are right! This is something I had never paid attention to back then. I realize it’s not a small problem after your fellowship. Let’s ask co-worker Jiang about it since we are going to visit him.”
“Right! I hear co-worker Jiang has obtained some light from studying at other places. Maybe the Lord will lead us to resolve our doubts as we communicate with him.” I replied.
When we arrived at co-worker Jiang’s house, we saw Sister Wang and Brother Sun as well. After greetings, I asked co-worker Jiang about the question I had discussed with Brother Yang earlier. Brother Yang also said: “Brother Jiang, my understanding regarding this question is: To, I have suffered relatives’ and friends’ mocking and rejection; to believe in God, I have given up my work as a civil servant and marriage… I think I should be considered as people who love the Lord!”
Co-worker Jiang smiled and said: “Thank the Lord. In the past, we always thought abandoning our work, children and parents to spread the Lord’s gospel, or suffer, pay a price and do more work for the Lord is loving the Lord. Until this time when I went to other places to study, I had new understanding to this matter. The Lord Jesus said: ‘Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundred times now in this time… and in the world to come eternal life’ (Mark 10:29-30). This means if we truly expend for the Lord without trades and impurities just to satisfy Him, then what we do is in line with the Lord’s will. If our actions are mixed with impurities, trades, personal motives and objectives, and we take our working for the Lord as capital for entering the kingdom of heaven, or use this opportunity to exalt ourselves and show off ourselves, wanting people to think highly of us and worship us, then we are not the people who love God, but rather the Pharisees who opposed God.
Let’s read, it says: ‘All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weighs the spirits’ (Proverbs 16:2). The Pharisees explained scriptures and taught believers in the synagogue, and they were also able to travel around to work hard and suffer for the Lord. People thought they were the ones who loved God the most and also the ones pleasing to God. However, when the Lord Jesus came to work, not only did they not seek God with humility, but instead they frantically condemned and resisted Him, even nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross. This explains that human’s thoughts are not reliable! If the Pharisees truly loved the Lord, then when they heard the Lord Jesus’ sermons were way higher than theirs, they should put down their notions and imaginations to listen to the Lord Jesus. But on the contrary, they directly condemned and rejected the Lord Jesus. This means that they explained scriptures for the sake of showing themselves off and making themselves be worshiped and imitated by people. Their superficial godliness and hard work were all used to deceive people, and they wanted to make people worship, follow and obey them, so that they could maintain their status and job. Such people are not the ones who love the Lord, but rather the ones opposing Him. Just like what the Lord Jesus condemned them: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity’ (Matthew 23:27-28).
We can associate Pharisees’ examples with ourselves. We equipped much knowledge of the Bible and explained letters and doctrines to brothers and sisters. However, when back home, in most of the time we do not know how to practice the words of God and we live in a cycle of committing sins and making confessions. When we achieved some results in our working for the Lord, or we were imprisoned and suffered due to belief in the Lord, we would always flaunt our seniority, stand in an eminent position lecturing people; when we expended and abandoned a lot for the Lord, but in the end we did not receive God’s rewards and blessings, instead disasters befell our families, then we would complain a lot and even deny and betray God; when we went support negative and weak brothers and sisters several times but failed, we would be unwilling to do that again, even belittle them, etc. From all these we can see, we do have impurities within us when we expend and suffer for God. Maybe we want reputations and status, we want exaltations from people; maybe we want our families to be safe without any disaster and hope to obtain rewards and blessings from God, etc. Our motives and viewpoints are wrong, and we are directed by them when serving God, therefore we cannot be called as people who love God.”
After hearing co-worker Jiang’s fellowship, Brother Yang thought for a while and said embarrassedly: “All that you have said completely accord with the facts. Indeed, I abandoned my job and gave up on my marriage in order to be brought into the kingdom of heaven. If it were not for the beautiful aspirations and promises, I would not have abandoned anything.”
I said: “Brother Jiang, after your dissection about the substance of the Pharisees’ hard working, I do realize there were so many things that were not in line with God’s will in their expending for God. And as such, measuring if a person truly loves God should not be based on his outward actions, but on the intents behind his actions and the consequences of what he has done. If we do not know how to differentiate, we would take the wrong path and become people who oppose God!”
Brother Yang continued: “Brother Jiang, through your fellowship I can see that we are taking the same path of the Pharisees. It’s so dangerous! Brother Jiang, what kind of people are really considered as the people who love the Lord? What should we do to become ones like them? Please fellowship to us some more.”
Co-worker Jiang said: “For this question, first we should look at what the Lord Jesus’ requirements of those who love God are. Let’s read some scriptures, the Lord Jesus said: ‘If a man love me, he will keep my words… He that loves me not keeps not my sayings’ (John 14:23-24). ‘If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed’ (John 8:31). ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39). The Lord Jesus required of us to practice God’s words and to love our God with all our heart, soul and mind. Only those who meet the requirements are deemed as people who truly love God. Here it talks about loving God with all our heart, which means when we are working for the Lord, we must not do it perfunctorily, but with an honest heart; when encountering difficulties, we should neither shrink back lightly nor make complaints, but practice according to God’s words and obey God as well as seek His will. No matter what God requires from us, even if it conflicts with our conceptions, we should not give excuses, or make conditions, nor should we pursue for the sake of our fame, status and interest of our flesh. We should fulfill our responsibilities silently and be loyal to God’s commission to death. Therefore, people who truly love the Lord have knowledge of God, they are loyal and obedient to God, and always exalt God in their hearts. They have no complaints even if they need to pay a huge price, and they still follow and love God. Just like Job, he feared God and shunned evil, he was totally an upright man. No matter if God gives or has taken away, no matter if God bestows blessings or sends down disasters, he could worship and praise God, and he did everything according to God’s words, therefore he was approved by God. Or like Peter, he offered his entire life to God. He never used all the sufferings he endured and prices he paid as capital, he also never exalted and testified himself, but instead he was always feeling remorseful and upset as he couldn’t always satisfy the Lord. With regard to the Lord’s commission, Peter shepherded churches strictly according to His will and requirements. He never prayed to the Lord for anything due to his gains and losses, but only for a heart that can love the Lord. In the end, Peter was nailed upside down on the cross, he submitted to the Lord till death with no complaints. This is someone who truly loves the Lord and who is approved and blessed by Him. That was why God gave Peter the key to the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, measuring if a person truly loves God is not based on his outward actions of abandoning, expending and working hard, but rather on whether he has an honest heart, and truly fears God, whether he is loyal to God when facing trials, and whether he can submit to God totally when God’s work is in conflict with his conceptions. If a person can love and submit to God absolutely under any circumstances, he is truly loving God, then he is qualified to receive God’s promises to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I said: “Brother Jiang, after your fellowship I realize when we are working for the Lord, most importantly we have to do it according to His words and with a heart of loving God. Regardless of what we face, we must pray to and rely on the Lord without our personal motives and impurities, truly be salt and light. Then we can surely be considered as people who love the Lord. However, for over ten years I have only been busy with work, pursuing to be thought highly of and praised by people. Though I traveled a lot, did much work and also suffered a lot, I did not focus on practicing the Lord’s words. Until today I still can’t meet the requirements of loving the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind, nor can I love other people as myself. And I also often lie and sin. It’s true I’m still a filthy and corrupted person. My belief in God is just like the Pharisees, how I can be considered as one who loves the Lord. I’m really nothing compared to Job and Peter. I must pursue to be someone who loves God in the future, if not, I would be abandoned by Him when the Lord returns.”
Brother Yang suddenly came into realization and said: “Now I see that measuring if a person really loves God should mainly depend on whether he can submit to God and follow God’s way, sincerely expend for God. If he expends for the Lord with personal motives and extravagant desire, then he does not love God yet. Only one who worships God in spirit and in truth is considered as loving God. All these years I have abandoned my work, given up on my marriage, expended and worked hard for the Lord, but I did those for receiving rewards and entering the kingdom of heaven. I’m indeed not one who loves God!”
Sister Wang and Brother Sun also expressed that they wouldn’t continue to seek as they did before, but pursue to love the Lord like Job and Peter. Everyone nodded in agreement happily.
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