By Shunxin, Thailand
Finding a Close Friend Abroad, a Wonderful Helper for Starting a Business From Scratch
When I first came abroad I had a really hard time, but I later met someone who became a really close friend. She was wonderful to me—not only did she help me with things in daily life, but would often lend me money as well. We got along just like sisters. I was incredibly grateful for her help and hoped that I would be able to return the kindness someday.
Later on we started up an online business together; I registered WeChat shop in my own name. I took responsibility for finding customers, while she took responsibility for purchasing and shipping, with equal sharing of profits. A year later we started a direct sales business so that we could make more money. In an effort to get customers to buy factory-direct products and so we could earn more points on WeChat, we took a portion of our own profit and returned it to customers as a rebate. Since our monthly profits on direct sales were pretty impressive, I discussed with my friend the possibility of not splitting up the remaining profits from the WeChat shop right away, but having her manage them for the time being. I had a lot of trust in her, so she had been in charge of the accounts all along and I didn’t know for sure how much was left in profit every month. A year on we were working together really happily and we had more and more customers—we had gone from a customer base of 600 to nearly 5,000, plus we had an excellent 5-star reputation. I was very pleased to see our business growing by the day, but I was even happier to have such a close friend.
The Boat of Friendship Is Rocked by the Waves of Self-interest
But all good things must come to an end. As business got better and better, I started to get a vague sense that there was a barrier growing between us. Apart from business communications, she was either wittingly or unwittingly distancing herself from me in general. Once I accidentally caught sight of an invoice that had two brand-name watches on it, but they weren’t products that we sold in our store. When I asked her about it she hemmed and hawed, and explained it away as something she was buying for her sister. I didn’t think much of it at the time. But that kind of thing started happening more and more, and I realized that she was hogging profits behind my back. This made me really angry and I wanted to clear it up with her, but then I thought about how much she had helped me in the past and I didn’t want to destroy our friendship over a bit of money. I decided to turn a blind eye and not bring it up.
However, my friend didn’t rein herself in because of my trust and tolerance. After that I discovered that she was becoming less and less responsible with the business, sometimes sending out the wrong product or mailing things to the wrong address, leading to complaint after complaint from customers. I tried talking to her about this issue, but she just continued on as before. Then one day we were idly chatting and she mentioned that she wanted us to conduct business separately but was reticent to say so—that’s the reason she was intentionally doing things that way. I was really hurt. People say that you should never mix business and personal affairs, that in the face of personal gain people will always forsake their principles, and it will lead to a rift. I didn’t want things to get to that point with her, so I pulled out of the store and handed it all over to her.
Facing Hard Times, I Get the Cold Shoulder When I Ask Her for Help
Not long after that I left town with my husband on business. In order to maintain the friendship between us, I introduced over 20 new customers to her, one after another. She responded to me really indifferently—this was incredibly disappointing and hurtful to me. We weren’t in contact after that as both of us were busy with our own businesses.
My husband’s business ended up failing and we fell on hard times financially. We were even struggling to meet our daily food needs. As we were approaching desperation I thought of the yearly profit my friend had kept from the WeChat shop, so I wasted no time in sending her a message explaining our dire circumstances, hoping that she’d allot some of that extra profit to help me out of that bind. To my surprise, she said that she had already used that profit to give rebates to customers, so she had very little on hand. When I asked her about why she didn’t have any extra profit, she didn’t have any verification to explain it, but just coldly responded with this: “I said there’s nothing, so there’s nothing. Don’t give any more thought to profits.” Her response made me really angry and I thought, “Can money really change a person? Where did that good friend of mine go? I had so much trust in her that I even gave her the PIN number for my bank card, had her manage our WeChat store, and recommended customers to her. I was so good to her, but when I’m most in need of cash she says she has nothing. That’s so heartless.” I couldn’t help but develop resentment toward her as I thought through all of that.
Wanting to resolve our household financial crisis as soon as possible, I thought about the portion of customers that I still had in my hands. I wanted to snatch the WeChat store away from her and take it back over. But then I thought about how I had promised to let her run things, so wouldn’t taking it back now be a lack of integrity? But then I thought, since she’s being so unscrupulous in the face of profits, I have every right to take it back. So, I demanded that she give the store back to me and re-divide the existing customers so that she could open a store and run it on her own, and we could sell the same kinds of products. She agreed and pulled out of the store very quickly—I was really happy at the time. But to my surprise, when I took the store back my friend had entirely deleted all of the products, ads, and customer reviews I had so laboriously put into it, particularly the photos in the direct sales product listings—all of that was real customer feedback, but she had deleted all of it. Her behavior left me really angry and I really wanted to tell her off in person.
I had no choice but to start from scratch, putting up new product listings bit by bit, and then sending out messages to previous customers one by one. Things started to pick up speed after a period of hard work. But what I hadn’t expected was that after my friend started her own online shop, she set the prices on her products really low so my customers all moved over to her—it was clear she was trying to squeeze me out. I was really angry and wanted to tell all of our customers about how she had deleted all of my product listings so that they would see her true face. But just as I was on the verge of sending out that message I suddenly felt uneasy. I thought about how I’m a person of faith, and taking revenge that way wouldn’t be in line with God’s will. So, I deleted the message. In the days that followed business became slower and slower for me, and no matter what I was selling, there just wasn’t any sales volume. Whenever I saw her advertising huge sales, I was really upset and thought of all the ways she had wronged me. I was full of resentment toward her, and I would get so angry that I couldn’t stop shaking. For a period of time I lost my appetite, I couldn’t sleep, and sometimes I couldn’t quiet myself in gatherings. I started thinking again about sending a message to tell everyone about her behavior, but I knew I shouldn’t do that. I was really in pain and at a loss—all I could do was keep praying to God.
One day, I saw these words of 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? Despite the hundreds of thousands of words God has spoken, no one has come to their senses. People act for the sake of their families, sons and daughters, for their careers, future prospects, position, vainglory, and money, for the sake of food, clothing, and the flesh, but is there anyone whose actions are truly for the sake of God?” I really felt ashamed after reading this; I felt that I had been constantly struggling with her over personal benefit and had acted with malice. I didn’t have a sense of friendship—I saw that I really have been so deeply corrupted by Satan. I thought about how my friend doesn’t believe in God, so her acting like that is understandable, but I’m a believer and had been fighting for profit just like her, constantly on edge and frustrated over it. I wasn’t even interested in gatherings and wanted to go have it out with her. What I had been living out really was an ugly, satanic face—it really brought shame to God.
I then thought of the words of the, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). It’s true. The kingdom of heaven is where God reigns, and only those who possess the truth can enter into it. The truth is a priceless treasure—only those who eschew all financial benefit and focus on seeking the truth are intelligent people. I thought about how, since I’m a believer now, I have a chance at getting into the kingdom of heaven but I was still stubbornly clinging to financial interests to the point that I was living within resentment for the sake of my own benefit. I didn’t feel like reading God’s words or attending gatherings, and I hadn’t been seeking the truth to resolve my own problems—that’s so foolish and ignorant! I gave thanks to God’s words for their enlightenment and guidance, and I no longer wanted to keep struggling, but instead to seek the truth to resolve my own corrupt disposition. I got online and got in touch with Sister Li, told her the entire story, and asked for her help.
Why Friendship Can’t Stand the Test of Personal Interests
After hearing me out, Sister Li responded, “The people, events, and things that God arranges around us are actually all just a mirror. Whatever we see in them is actually how we are. Since we are all human beings who have been corrupted by Satan and we all live according to our satanic natures, we are all out for ourselves and act in our own interest. That’s why there’s no way to have harmonious interpersonal relationships. Let’s take a look at how it’s explained in God’s words.”
She then sent me this passage: “People think like this: ‘If you’re not going to be kind, then I won’t be just! If you’re rude to me, then I’ll be rude to you as well! If you don’t treat me with dignity, why would I treat you with dignity?’ What sort of thinking is this? Is it not a vengeful way of thinking? In the views of an ordinary person, is this type of perspective not viable? Does it not hold water? ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’; ‘here’s a taste of your own medicine’—among unbelievers, these are rationales that hold water and are accepted as above-board. Some people even think that this is how an upright and honorable person should behave. However, as someone who believes in God—as someone who seeks to understand the truth and seeks a change in disposition—would you say that such words are right or wrong? Are these perspectives right or wrong? (Wrong.) Why is that? Where do such things come from? They come from the malicious nature of Satan; they contain venom, and they contain the true face of Satan in all its maliciousness and ugliness. They contain the very essence of that nature. What is the character of the perspectives, thoughts, expressions, speech, and even actions that contain that nature’s essence? Are they not of Satan? Are these aspects of Satan in line with humanity? Are they in line with the truth, or with the reality of the truth? (No.) They are not the actions, thoughts, or perspectives that followers of God should possess.”
After reading God’s words I finally understood why I wanted to take revenge on my friend when she mistreated me. It was all because I had been poisoned by worldly philosophies like, “Here’s a taste of your own medicine,” “If you’re not kind, I won’t be just!” and “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” As soon as someone did something that impacted my own personal interests I couldn’t come to terms with it and wanted to take revenge. Everything I was displaying was an evil, selfish satanic disposition. I thought back on how, when I was facing hardship, my friend wouldn’t give me a single penny that was my due, I harbored resentment against her and took the store back, going against my promise. When she unkindly deleted all the product information and customers’ genuine feedback, then dropped her prices to purposefully squeeze me out, malice took root in my heart and I wanted to tell all of our customers about it to drag her name through the mud. I saw that my own behavior was simply disgusting; it was despicable and petty, and what I had been living out was entirely the likeness of Satan, not of a believer in God.
Sister Li later sent me another passage of God’s words. “Until people have experienced God’s work and gained the truth, it is Satan’s nature that takes charge and dominates them from within. What, specifically, does that nature entail? For example, why are you selfish? … [T]hey will answer, ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem: The logic of Satan has become people’s lives. They do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. People all think that it is ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ This is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents their nature. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this statement is precisely Satan’s poison, and when internalized by people, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they completely represent it. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this for thousands of years.”
After she was done reading, Sister Li shared this fellowship: “The real root of why we grapple with others over personal interests and won’t compromise is because since being corrupted by Satan, we’ve been living according to the poisons Satan instills us with, like ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ ‘Fight for every inch of land and seize every bit you can get.’ Corroded by these poisons, we become incredibly selfish, despicable, and self-interested; we put our interests first in all things, and everyone wants to take advantage but not be at a disadvantage. We see personal interest as higher than anything else. When personal benefit isn’t at stake, or there’s not much of it at stake, we are able to be tolerant and patient with each other, and to peacefully coexist. But when facing the temptation of a large stake of something, we don’t care about family relationships or friendships, but get our guards up, and fight and scheme against each other. Our hearts are filled with poison and strife. Haven’t you and your friend gotten to this point entirely because you’ve been fighting over your own interests? The two of you used to be just like sisters, but in the face of financial interests your feelings of friendship faded. She disregarded your relationship and intentionally harmed your interests for her own personal gain. This was the outcome of having been corrupted by this erroneous perspective from Satan: ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ Likewise, you were tolerant of her at first because of her kindness to you, and you didn’t want to damage your friendship over personal interests. But when she didn’t give you the profit and intentionally deleted the information from your store, and lowered her prices to push you out of business, your own interests were harmed and then you developed resentment. You were really suffering. You wanted to go to battle against her to protect your own interests, even thinking about telling everyone about what she had done. Aren’t all of these things that you did because you were controlled by the mistaken perspective of ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’? Clearly, if we don’t take God’s words as life but instead rely on satanic philosophies and perspectives, everything we live out is the ugliness of Satan. Over the course of history we can find countless examples of people turning against their own family members , and of those who were once close becoming enemies over their personal interests. Satan’s poisons have become life itself for every one of us, making it so that it’s just impossible for us to coexist in harmony. This is the current state of humanity after having been corrupted by Satan.”
After listening to God’s words and Sister Li’s fellowship, I responded in agreement, “What God reveals truly is the reality of the situation. Now I understand the reason I forgot my integrity in the face of profit; it’s because I was controlled by the satanic thinking and perspective of ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ When my own interests were damaged I acted out of character, wouldn’t make concessions, and undermined her, disregarding any true sense of friendship. There wasn’t even any normal interpersonal interaction. When I was tolerant of my friend at first, I thought I was really great and that she was the one out of line, but I never thought about how, once she damaged my own interests, not only did I harbor a grudge against her but even wanted to discredit her. It turned out that I’m just the same as her—the erroneous perspective from Satan’s poisons twisted my soul. I thought nothing of our friendship and lost any likeness of proper humanity. That really brings shame to God! Without the judgment and revelation of God’s words I never would have recognized my own corruption.”
“Yes,” Sister Li responded, “When we base our lives on Satan’s logic and laws, we become more and more corrupt, and more and more selfish by nature. Our own interests always come first and we’re unable to possess any genuine care or love for others. We’re nowhere near what God requires of us, to love others as ourselves.”
Experiencing God’s Selfless Love Inspires My Desire to Seek the Truth
Sister Li then gave me another passage of God’s words to read. “God is forever supreme and ever honorable, while man is forever base, forever worthless. This is because God is forever making sacrifices and devoting Himself to mankind; man, however, forever takes and strives only for himself. God is forever taking pains for mankind’s survival, yet man never contributes anything for the sake of the light or for righteousness. Even if man makes an effort for a time, it is so weak that it cannot withstand a single blow, for the effort of man is always for his own sake and not for others. Man is always selfish, while God is forever selfless. God is the source of all that is just, good, and beautiful, while man is he who succeeds to and makes manifest all ugliness and evil. God will never alter His substance of righteousness and beauty, yet man is perfectly capable, at any time and in any situation, of betraying righteousness and straying far from God.”
Sister Li continued on with her fellowship. “God’s essence is holy, beautiful, and honorable. Only God has selfless love for humanity. Even though we betray God and live under the domain of Satan and are so corrupted by it that we’re even lacking a human likeness, growing more and more distant from God, God has never abandoned us, but over the millennia has been quietly working to save mankind. We know that late in the Age of Law when people were sinning more and more and were all facing the danger of being condemned to death under the law, this was the first time God, the supreme One, became flesh as the Lord Jesus. He knew well the unbearable pain of being crucified in the flesh, but He didn’t consider Himself. Instead, He gave Himself as a sin offering, allowing His own flesh, free from sin, to be nailed to the cross to redeem all of mankind. God has once again become flesh in the last days and has come to China to work where He has suffered relentless pursuit and persecution by the CCP government. But He’s given no thought to His own safety, nor has He demanded anything of us. Instead, He’s continued to quietly do the work of fully saving mankind. God’s love is so selfless; it’s so great. But we couldn’t be more different—all that we reveal and live out is our corrupt satanic disposition of being selfish and despicable, only thinking of ourselves. As soon as something impinges on our own interests we become petty, combative, and fight with each other. We’re lacking a true human likeness. Looking at how beautiful and honorable God’s disposition is, and then taking a look at the selfishness and ugliness that we live out is so shameful! That’s why we need to seek the truth and read God’s words more so that we can understand the truth and replace these satanic laws of survival we have within us with God’s words, and be able to put God’s words into practice; that’s the only way to dispel interpersonal struggles and achieve harmonious coexistence.”
Through Sister Li’s fellowship I realized how truly immense God’s love for mankind is. God has always been quietly giving His all so that we can better survive; He’s given us sustenance for everything without ever demanding any repayment from us. He just hopes that we will really seek the truth and live by His words, ultimately casting off our corrupt, satanic dispositions and living within His blessings. The selflessness of God’s love deeply moved me and inspired my desire to seek the truth. I became willing to cast off my selfish, despicable corrupt disposition and live out a true human likeness as soon as I could.
Learning to Be a Good Person and Reaping God’s Blessings
Sister Li then had me read a passage of fellowship and sermons on entry into life. “Kind people don’t have evil in their hearts. If you owe them, they won’t mind, but they won’t owe you anything because for them that’s definitely unacceptable. Plus, it’s not a problem if you offend them, but they would never want to offend you, let alone harm you. Isn’t that kind-hearted? When anyone does something unfavorable toward them, they can also put themselves in that person’s shoes and be considerate toward them, can forgive them, and understand them. This is also the expression of a kind heart.”
I understood from this passage that only those who are kind-hearted have love in their hearts. When someone else says something that hurts them or harms their personal interest, not only do they not make an issue of it and not take revenge based on a satanic philosophy, but they’re able to forgive the other person, and be tolerant and forgiving of others. They can do things according to the truth and get along harmoniously with other people. Once I had understood God’s will, I had the resolve to seek to be a kind-hearted person—I decided to let go of my resentment and be a magnanimous person, and no longer quibble with my friend over profit.
Once I had let go of my resentment, something incredible happened. My shop sprung back to life—some customers sought me out to buy something, and sometimes after getting a quote, customers would immediately, casually transfer funds and place an order. Once after I gave a quote a customer told me that my friend’s prices were much lower and that she was doing a lot of factory-direct sales. I got really upset and thought, “Should I put my prices that low, too, to steal some customers back?” Then I suddenly realized that that was engaging in conflict, so I quickly prayed to God to protect my heart. I then gained the confidence to forsake the flesh and let go of personal benefit; I felt willing to be a kind-hearted person. So I told the customer straightforwardly, “I’m sorry, I don’t engage in price wars. It’s fine if you don’t want to buy from me.” I felt very much at peace in my heart after saying that. To my surprise, not only did that customer not patronize my friend’s shop, but decided to purchase from me. I was really surprised at this and it also gave me a real experience of being blessed by God for putting the truth into practice.
From then on, whenever my friend started a price war to get my customers I would, quiet my heart, and ponder God’s words. After doing this for a period of time I was no longer impacted by her selling more stuff, and I was able to slowly let go of my resentment of her. I felt much more relaxed overall—I was able to breathe easy.
Once a customer asked me, “Does your friend sell genuine products?” I said, totally relaxed, “Yes, there’s nothing wrong with them. You can buy from her with confidence.” My heart felt very open. I give thanks for God’s guidance, that through this battle with my friend over personal gain, I was able to truly see the pain that comes from living based on satanic philosophies, perspectives, and corrupt dispositions, plus people being unable to form normal relationships and lacking true friendships, but just infighting and keeping score. Only living by God’s words and the truth can we have a true human likeness. That’s the only way to lead a free and easy life!