In the bright light of a morning sun, I went into a mall with a springy step. Then I entered my quaint little clothing store and started going through the dazzling and fashionable clothes. Suddenly the quarrels of two female store owners broke the silence of the mall. Hearing this, I considered how lucky I had received a peaceful and happy life now.
I ran a clothing store and often saw the competitors quarreling with each other about the other following suit in stocking the same goods. During the quarrels, they said all kinds of harsh words, so much so that some of them even started physically fighting. “It’s really true that business is as fierce as war,” I thought, “these people are so rude. You’re all businessmen and can earn money together. Besides, you are in the same business and cannot avoid running into each other. If you are patient toward each other, won’t the thing be over?” But I also loathed those who insisted on following suit in stocking the same goods as others’, so I continually reminded myself that I must do business by the book in accordance with my conscience. In order to avoid getting the clothes identical with others’, I often went to Beijing to stock goods. I had thought that by doing this, I would live peaceably with others, doing my own business, but things didn’t quite turn out this way …
One day, the female owner of my neighboring store came to my store, and glanced round at my new supplies of the clothes with a new pattern; she went over to a woollen coat, then looked at it and said, “This one is nice. Is it popular?” I answered, “It’s new stock and very popular.” Then she walked around and left. Just a couple of days later, Juanzi, the owner of the clothing store opposite mine came to me, saying, “Lulu, the owner of your neighboring store got the woollen coat identical with yours. In addition, they’re more colorful and sell very well. You should watch out. Her aim of coming to your store and wandering is in order to glance at your clothes.” Hearing what Juanzi said, I found it a little difficult to swallow. I thought, “I was usually on good terms with the neighbor, we made small talk in our free time, I often helped her in her store and sometimes helped take care of her kids. No wonder she always came to my store when having nothing to do and frequently asked me which clothes sold well when chatting with me. It turned out that she had crooked intentions and wanted to follow suit in getting the clothes identical with mine. Her store is near the entrance of the mall and customers first pass by it. Now her clothes are rich in color, so mine will certainly not sell. Isn’t it obvious that she is stealing my business? It’s really true that the human heart is unfathomable and cannot be predicted by anyone. Everyone says that dangers abound across the land, but I never thought that the business world is also such a sinister place. I usually trusted her so much, and also helped take care of her kids and watch her store, but unexpectedly, she actually calculated against me.” The more I thought about it the angrier I got, and I really wanted to go to speak to her, get her to do business by following the rules and tell her not to do things that hurt others to benefit herself. But then I thought, “If I have this out with her, we’ll definitely quarrel and it will harm our relationship. But if I don’t do thus, I won’t stand for it.” When I was confused, Juanzi suggested, “Lulu, she has loved following suit in stocking the same goods as others’. You shouldn’t be so honest. Like other competitors, you’d better hang a curtain. This way she will have the good sense not to look around at your clothes.”
Hearing Juanzi say this, I thought of how in the past, when the neighbor saw the clothes of other stores sold well, she would try everything to procure the same ones, and how because of this she even quarreled with others. It looked to me now that I had to do something about it, or I’d never sell my clothes. After making up my mind, I right away made a sign saying “Competitors Are Refused to Peep Inside” and hung a curtain to block the neighbor’s view. I originally thought that after I did thus, everything would be fine, but I never expected that, since she got those clothes, nobody bought clothes from my store. Her store was well situated near the door of the mall, and besides, she peddled and recommended that clothes to customers, so that the customers who might come to my store were stopped by her, and thus my fortunes were disrupted by her. Moreover, my clothes were bought from Beijing and were unique before, but now she found a way to get the same ones locally, so naturally my price was higher than hers and her clothes sold more quickly than mine. As a result, I was not only overstocked but also lost money. I scrambled around like cats on a hot tin roof and was at a loss. Seeing my losing the chance to make big money was like someone using a knife to slice off my flesh. I could not help but begin to hate her and thought, “It’s all because you didn’t know the rule first. If you hadn’t stocked the same goods as mine, how would the money that was originally within my grasp be earned by you? It’s all because of you that I not only lost customers but also didn’t make money.” The more I thought about it the more I hated her, and I even wished I could go to her store to get into a huge fight with her.
When seeing her coming to my store, I intentionally stood firm before the door with a tense face and a fierce expression, declaring my power against her, as if to say to her: I won’t take kindly to you. Let’s see if you dare follow suit in getting the clothes identical with mine again. Don’t think I’m easily bullied. Just then I suddenly remembered that God said, “If believers are always just as casual and unrestrained in their speech and conduct as unbelievers are, then such people are even more evil than unbelievers; they are archetypal demons.” God’s words timely reminded and stopped me who was so angry. Pondering these words, I felt a bit calmer and thought, “I’m a believer in God, and if I go to her store to argue with her, then aren’t my speech and actions the same as the unbelievers’? This will humiliate God.” And so, I hurriedly said a prayer to God, “God, the neighbor’s following suit in selling the clothes identical with mine has resulted in no one buying my clothes, so I feel very angry and want to go settle things with her. God, I know doing this isn’t right, but I’m really angry. May You keep me from doing things that shame You based on my hot-bloodedness. Please enlighten and guide me to understand Your will in this matter.”
When I got home from work that evening, I saw these words from God, “Cruel mankind! The connivance and intrigue, the snatching and grabbing one from another, the scramble for fame and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? … How many people do not act out of their own interests? How many do not oppress or ostracize others in order to protect their own position?” And I also read a passage in the Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, “Once their interests and honor get involved, nations or races easily start wars, fighting to the bitter end. So when things do not touch on their interests, outwardly people are calm and peaceful, but this kind of calm and peace are temporary because they are without the truth; once things relate to their profits, there must be wars, disputes, and fights. Why do people fight? It’s because of their own benefit. Politicians fight for power and gain, average people struggle for their own interests, and therefore, people without the truth are prone to fight with others and start wars. Of this, there is no doubt, and countless facts have proved this point. Tell me, why do two people fight? It’s all because of benefit.”
From the sermon and God’s words, I finally came to understand that the reason why there is fighting between people is because of various satanic remarks, such as “Heaven destroys those who are not for themselves,” “A man dies for money; a bird dies for food,” “Never rise early unless there is an associated benefit,” “Fight for every inch of land and seize every bit you can get,” and so on. These philosophies of Satan have taken deep root in our hearts, and this is why when facing money and profits, we’ve become cruel, selfish, and greedy, and we’re narrow-minded toward people and haggle over every little thing. From wars between countries to conflicts between families or friends, things between people are not as harmonious as they were when God first created mankind. People have all lost the conscience, reason, character, and dignity, and at any time they can become enemies and lash out because of interests. Moreover, since ancient times, business is a battleground and it is unavoidable for people in the same business to compete with each other for interests. They all become smiling tigers—outwardly kind, but inwardly cruel. On the surface they are amiable, but if something involves their tiny little interests, they even fight to the death over them. When seeing others doing good business, they become jealous, and so tear them down behind their backs, scheme against them, and attempt to corner the market. They live every day within a vicious cycle of scheming against others and being conspired against … As it turns out, the reason why the entire society is so cruel is all because of Satan’s harms.
I also realized that, in the past I counted myself as being a rational and comparatively generous person, and believed that I would not draw blood for personal interests like others, but when my neighbor’s following suit in selling the clothes identical with mine made her business good but caused my interests to suffer, my selfish and malicious nature hidden within me was exposed. So many times, I wanted to settle accounts with her and even thought that at most we both did not sell that clothes; I hated her so much that I wanted to end up in a fight to the death with her. Only then did I see that for the sake of my own personal benefit, I had lost a normal person’s conscience and reason, and had become greedy, selfish, and self-seeking, and that I did not show any tolerance or patience toward others, nor did I live out the likeness of a Christian. Obsessed with right and wrong and living in resentment of my neighbor, I was incredibly miserable. The truth is that my nature was also selfish and I even wanted revenge for my own benefit. With this in my mind, I felt deeply regretful and so came before God to repent, “God, now I understand that my neighbor’s acting like that is also because of Satan’s affliction. And I know that everything I’ve done cannot bear witness for You. Now I’m no longer willing to argue with her over my own interests. No matter how many clothes I will sell or whether they can be sold or not, I wish to obey Your sovereignty and arrangements. May You lead me to forsake my flesh and live by Your words.”
After praying, I put away the curtain and the sign, was not afraid that the neighbor would peep at my clothes, and wished only to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. Much to my surprise, after changing my frame of mind, I gradually got more customers and my business got much better than before. Sometimes, other people in the same business left some of their clothes with me and had me help sell them, so I recommended them to the customers, but marvelously, the customers did not choose them but instead just bought mine. I knew that this was God’s blessing, and that all things were within God’s rule and were part of God’s orchestrations. This allowed me to enjoy the pleasure of living by God’s words for the first time.
Just when I put aside the past, picked myself up and diligently run my clothing store, a matter vital to my interests arose that made my heart surge again. On a sunny morning, after practicing spiritual devotion I went to open the door of my store, and I learned that before I arrived, a customer came, wanting to exchange a coat she bought from my store a few days ago for a different kind. Right at that time, Juanzi showed up and told me, “Lulu, when the customer intending to exchange the clothes was waiting for you in your neighbor’s store before you arrived, your neighbor said to the customer that the coat bought from you was expensive and wasn’t worth it and asked the customer to return it. Also, she tried to sell the customer the clothes in her store….”
Juanzi’s words steamed my beam, so I instantly felt a rush of rage. My heart constantly churned and I thought, “You’re really pushing it too far. You followed suit in selling the clothes identical with mine and I didn’t go settle things with you, but you pushed your luck by interfering in my relationship with the customer who had bought my clothes. Don’t you try to make my business go bust? Do you think it’s so easy to get the better of me? I must let you see what I’m capable of.” Just when I was extremely angry and was about to dash into her store to argue with her, I suddenly realized that this was Satan’s cunning scheme. If I really dashed into her store, there must be ructions. Wasn’t that being fooled by Satan? I then hurriedly prayed to God in my heart, “God, I heard the neighbor sow discord in my relationship with my customer to make me suffer loss. I feel particularly angry and even want to go settle things with her, but I know doing so would not conform with Your intentions. May You protect me so that I’m able to quiet my heart and find the path of practice in this matter.” After praying I felt much calmer. I read God’s words, “If many things come upon you that are not in line with your notions but you are able to put them aside and know God’s actions from these things…. It is through many negative things, many adversities that God perfects you. It is through many of Satan’s actions, accusations, and its expression in many people that God allows you to acquire knowledge, thus perfecting you.” After reading these words, I understood the thing that befell that did not conform to my conceptions was a spiritual war and also Satan’s deed and accusation. I wanted to pursue the truth in earnest, obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and manage my business, and no longer wanted to be contentious on or participate in those things like rights and wrongs or things that caused me to live in resentment, but Satan was unwilling to be defeated, and so it used Juanzi to pass messages to continue sowing discord in my relationship with my neighbor. Satan arrogantly tried to ignite my anger to have me argue with her, cause me to engage in jealous disputes like the unbelievers and so humiliate God’s name. This was Satan’s cunning scheme. Satan was so evil. God’s words timely pointed out a path of practice for me so that I saw through Satan’s schemes and could set aside my own personal benefit. This was God using Satan’s actions as a cautionary tale to give me the opportunity to practice the truth. This was God’s almightiness and wisdom. Thanks to the guidance of God’s words, my temper cooled and I felt peaceful in my heart. Then I silently offered up a prayer of gratitude to God, “God, I thank You for leading me with Your words so that I was able to let go of the anger in my heart. But I don’t know whether the customer will think the price is too high and won’t want the clothes because of the neighbor’s sowing of discord. May You orchestrate everything. Even though the customer doesn’t want the clothes and my personal profits take a hit, I’m still willing to practice the truth to satisfy You and will not clash heads with my neighbor relying on my hot-bloodedness at all.” After praying, I was able to calm myself. After a while the customer came, and I never thought that after exchanging the clothes, she smiled at and talked with me, and then left.
Within my experiences I was able to know that when we encountered something involving our own interests, only by coming before God and living by God’s words could we avoid fights with others, have patience, tolerance, consideration, and love for others, and thus avoid all kinds of strife, temptations, and suffering. Plus, how much money we possess in life and what kind of life we have are all predestined by God, they are not something that we can fight for, and all of this is based on God’s rule and arrangements. Only by recognizing God’s rule can we break away from the harm Satan’s philosophies cause us and ever find ease and release. God allowing me to work here and meet such a competitor was actually to have me know myself and see clearly that Satan’s philosophies bring mankind pain, so that I could hate Satan and live out a true human likeness by relying on God’s words. Whenever my corrupt disposition was about to flare up, God used His words to protect, lead, and guide me so that I avoided temptations one after another, or else I would also sink deeper and deeper into the quagmire of interests and struggles. From this I came to gain a little understanding of the authority and might of God’s words and felt even more God’s great salvation and love for me. I became even more determined to abandon my own interests in order to practice the truth and glorify and bear witness to God.
One day, my friend came to my store to buy clothes. During her stroll, she happened to see a cotton-padded jacket in my neighbor’s store, and then came to ask me whether its price was expensive or not. On hearing she wanted to buy the clothes from the neighbor’s store, I thought of how the neighbor had interfered in my relationship with my customer and intentionally stolen my business, I still had some resentment toward her, and thus I didn’t want my friend to buy the clothes from her. At that moment I suddenly thought of the God’s words I read when I was faced with this kind of environment before and of the resolution I had made before God, so I realized that I could not do things that cheated, defied, and shamed God or hurt others for personal gain. Although the quality of the clothes was not that good, its price was comparatively favorable. Then I said honestly to my friend, “It’s inexpensive. You can buy it if you really love it.” I felt a strong sense of peace in my heart after speaking such words.
Through consistently experiencing God’s work, the satanic ideas and views inside me such as “Heaven destroys those who are not for themselves” and “Fight for every inch of land and seize every bit you can get” changed bit by bit. In my interactions with my competitors, I could let go of my own interests and I was no longer keen on fighting with others and no longer had a complaining and hating heart as before. I felt so much more at ease and stopped worrying that other competitors would follow suit in getting the clothes identical with mine. When meeting the owner of the neighboring store, I no longer had a chip on my shoulder like I had before, and instead was willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements in my heart. When practicing in this way, I felt very much at peace and I did not want to argue with or have disputes with my neighbor and the people around me because of my own interests anymore. Plus, my business was the same as always and wasn’t affected because the competitors stole my business, and I had good incomes. I truly experienced that only the truth can help people avoid strife. Thank God for giving me peace and joy. All this was the fruit attained through God’s words.
People came to the mall in an endless stream. Customers were free to choose or try on the dazzling clothes. I idly sitting on the bench outside the door of my store, there was a glowing, happy smile on my face …
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