The Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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The dealing with self which we are speaking of is entirely different from the magnanimity commonly spoken of among worldly people. Our dealing with self is based upon our realization that opinion is not only an expression of the old man but also the embodiment of Satan. Therefore, we apply the cross to our opinion and thereby put it to death. Once the opinion is put to death our self is dealt with as well. Nevertheless, this is not the case with those who are magnanimous. The magnanimous persons, when associating with others, never cause trouble by expressing their opinions. They endeavor to maintain peace with others; thus, in everything they seem to be very courteous and never quarrelsome. In all matters, however, they have their own opinion and idea. To their feeling, the opinion of others is never as good as theirs. But if others do not accept their opinion, they can restrain themselves from expressing it; they would never force others to accept it. They would even go to the extent, outwardly, of going along with the opinion of others and following others’ way of doing things. In this way there is no disharmony with others. Therefore, they act outwardly in one way and inwardly in another. Outwardly they do not insist on anything, yet inwardly they never lay aside their own opinion; rather they would keep it forever. This is called magnanimity.

Being magnanimous in such a way is absolutely not dealing with opinion nor dealing with self; on the contrary it nurtures opinions. Once the opinion is nurtured, self is developed, for self grows in the soil of opinion. Opinion is the best fertilizer and hotbed for self. The more human opinion there is and the more it is given existence and preserved, the better self grows. Conversely, dealing with man’s opinion is equal to slaying the self. Man is not willing to lay aside his opinion because he is not willing to deny his self. Throughout the generations we see people whose self is strong to such a degree that you could cut off their head, but you could never make them relinquish their opinion. Hence, dealing with opinion and denying of self are very difficult matters!

Being magnanimous, we repeat, is not dealing with self. The magnanimous person never condemns his own opinion or idea. He always feels that his own opinion is the most correct and the best. The only reason he does not insist on his own opinion is that he is able to make allowances for others and bear with others. He practices broad-mindedness; he has a measure as broad as the sea. Yet this kind of person considers himself the wisest and his opinion the best. When others do not accept his opinion, he bears with them and manifests his broad-mindedness.

These persons are seemingly meek, but actually are always self-righteous; seemingly humble, but in fact most arrogant. They are in total darkness and are the most blind. They resemble the Pharisees, self-righteous and self-right, whom the Lord rebuked as in darkness and blindness. The more successful a person is in being magnanimous, the more he becomes a stranger in spiritual things. He never has the light of God nor does he know the mind of God. He is void of any spiritual understanding; his whole being is like a brass and iron wall. He who is most magnanimous, he who is most able to bear with others, and he who is most able to adapt himself to others, is the most retarded in spiritual growth. This kind of person develops his magnanimity by human effort; therefore, the more magnanimous he is, the stronger and grosser is his self. A magnanimous person does not abandon his self; rather, he accumulates his self, until one day he will open his mouth and pour forth all the pent up opinions within; then he will be exactly like Job. He feels that he is the father of the orphans, the eyes of the blind, the feet of the lame, always helping others and bearing with others. This proves that his self is wholly sealed, and he has never decreased a bit.

Dealing with self is an absolutely different matter. To be magnanimous is to hide your opinion, but to deal with self is to reject your opinion. To be magnanimous is to temporarily swallow your opinion, but to deal with self is to hand over your opinion to the thorough killing of the cross. Therefore, one who has really learned the lesson of dealing with self has on one hand a firm decision in his spirit, and on the other hand, because he has been broken, he does not seem to have any opinion. If God does it his way, he says amen; if God does it otherwise, he counts his opinion as nothing. Because the self has already been broken by the cross, he cannot lose his temper nor can he be magnanimous, even if he wants to. Something within him has been broken. In this way he can have light. Therefore, we have seen that people who are frank, opinionated, and outspoken are more easily delivered than those so-called good people, those magnanimous persons who always bear with others. Since their self is exposed, after they are broken by the cross, it is truly dealt with; the result then is that they really have no opinion of their own.

Therefore, we should never have the concept that to deal with self means to be magnanimous and thus become a magnanimous person. We must differentiate clearly the matter of dealing with self from being magnanimous. For example, in the church or at home, once we have discovered that we have our own opinions, we should not let them pass lightly, but deal with them. Neither should we simply withdraw our opinion peacefully and let the matter go. The attitude of being tolerant will afford more growth to our opinion. We must see that we have already been crucified with the Lord on the cross; then whenever opinion and self are being expressed, we should apply the killing of the cross through the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death this opinion and self. It is only when we repeatedly apply this death that our self gradually decreases and the life of Christ gradually grows within us.

(The Experience of Life, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)