By Chen Zhuo, China
Everybody dreams of leading a life of material wealth, and I am no exception. I was once someone who worked tirelessly to have an affluent life. However, once I had obtained such a life, I found myself living in torture, feeling sick and empty inside. Truly, I experienced what is said in the Bible: “Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2–3). Reflecting now on the path I took, I am filled with regrets.
Striving for a Life of Affluence
I was always full of admiration when, as a child, I saw my successful uncle driving back for the New Year’s holidays with a car full of presents. At this time, a dream was planted within me: When I grew up, I was going to be rich and powerful like my uncle; I would lead a life of affluence.
After graduation, I moved to a city by the sea. I looked at the high-rises all around me, the cars shuttling back and forth, and my desire to get rich only grew. I used some connections I’d made to get a job at a state enterprise and threw myself into work, body and soul. In the workshop I sweated it out, in the office I endured my bosses’ constant reprimands, and late into the night I struggled to face down work-related crises. Several years later, when I had become a manager, friends, relatives and neighbors all gave me gifts and asked me to help their children find a job. I had got a taste of being held in high esteem by others and it felt great. Each year that followed, my salary increased, and I started to prosper.
Yet I wasn’t content at all. In an effort to take my career to the next level, I boldly resigned from my stable job at the state enterprise and followed the manager of a foreign company to start a business in another big city.
Over the next few years, I felt my stress levels soar in the fast-paced work environment and with the strict management style of the foreign company. Added to that, I constantly had to deal with clients of different characters. I had to take them out to eat, drink and have fun, and I had to join in. At that time, I saw at first hand the extravagant, licentious life of the foreign businessmen and executives in my acquaintance. Some of them were even addicted to drugs. It was a frantic, heedless and shameless life. I often felt completely overwhelmed. In more sober moments, I considered the fruits of the luxurious lifestyle I was enjoying. I had put on several stone and all the physical indicators in my blood tested higher than normal. I suffered from severe insomnia and felt constantly exhausted. I also had a slipped disk in my lower back, which over time put pressure on my nerves and caused numbness in my legs and feet, leaving me unable to look after myself for three months. Whomever I dealt with, I’d learnt to read their every gesture and expression, to charm and flatter them…. Such was the pain and misery that lay behind my life of affluence. I now had the kind of life that I’d worked so hard for, but it wasn’t bringing me happiness or joy. On the contrary, what it brought me was the torment of sickness and spiritual ruin. I didn’t understand: Why was life so painful?
Searching for the Root of My Pain
In the midst of my confusion, I did everything I could to locate the root of my problem and I found the answer in the:
“‘Money makes the world go round’ is the philosophy of Satan and it prevails among the whole of mankind, among every human society. You could say that it is a trend because it has been instilled into the heart of every single person and is now affixed in their heart. People went from not accepting this saying to growing used to it so that when they came into contact with real life, they gradually gave tacit approval to it, acknowledged its existence and finally, they gave it their own seal of approval. Isn’t this process that of Satan corrupting man? … So after Satan uses this trend to corrupt people, how is it manifested in them? Don’t you feel that you couldn’t survive in this world without any money, that even one day would just be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have as is their respectability. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Don’t many people see getting money as being worth any cost? … That is to say, this saying already controls your behavior and your thoughts, and you would rather have your fate controlled by this saying than give it all up. People do this, they are controlled by this saying and manipulated by it. Isn’t this the effect of Satan corrupting man?”
After reading the word of God, I realized that the cause of my pain was rooted in my continual striving after money. I’d been bitterly harmed by such satanic maxims such as: “Money makes the world go round” and “Money is first.” I’d made earning money my life’s pursuit. I’d thought that if I had money, I could live a life of luxury; I could stand up straight with my head held high, win respect from my peers, and live with style and grandeur. I worked day and night so I could lead an affluent life; I had tasked my mind solely with studying business. To win promotions and increase my salary, I had groveled before my superiors, and I had been diligent and conscientious. However, even after I’d become a manager, I still wasn’t satisfied with my circumstances. Seduced by the lure of money, I had resigned from my stable position at the state enterprise and jumped into a job with more to offer at a foreign company. To achieve even better results, I had put myself under excessive amounts of work stress, and I had rushed back and forth, wearing myself out. I had become ill from overwork—I was always sick. Nevertheless, to keep my clients happy, I continued learning how to charm and flatter. I went out drinking with my clients and my lifestyle became more and more debauched. Even though I’d made a bit of money and grown prosperous, my affluence couldn’t allay the torment of my sickness or the oppression I felt in my heart. It was then that I saw clearly: Chasing money was certainly not the true path in life; such a path could only lead to more and more suffering. Having come to this realization, I resigned from my job at the foreign company, and started some small business ventures on my own. In the days that followed, I began reading the word of God in earnest. I became involved in the life of the church, and gradually, I began to feel a sense of freedom and liberation such that I had never felt before.
In Shunning the Lure of Money, I Found the True Path
One day, a doctor friend of mine who was working in a hospital asked me whether I wanted to go into business with him, selling medicines to hospitals. I would be responsible for acquiring the medicines, delivering them, handling calls, making payments, wining and dining the clients, taking clients out, giving gifts etc. Once again, my heart started to jump with excitement. Now that my kid was older, I had a lot more expenses. This new business would allow me to make a bit of money again and ensure that my family could live in affluence. At that time, my wife warned me, “Haven’t you suffered enough doing business away from home? Your slipped disk is still bad. How much more rushing about can you take? The state your body’s in—you can’t go on wining and dining clients like that. You want to carry on making those same old mistakes, leading the kind of life that Satan duped you into before? It’s not easy to escape from Satan’s trap. Don’t get caught up in that again. It’s one of Satan’s deceitful schemes; you be warned!”
And she was right! Today, I’ve happily accepted God’s gospel of the kingdom. Through the word of God, I’ve recognized the wickedness of Satan. It is God who has led me back from the wrong path to the true path. Never again will I follow the wrong path. I saw these words of God: “Fame and fortune one gains in the material world give one temporary satisfaction, passing pleasure, a false sense of ease, and make one lose one’s way. And so people, as they thrash about in the vast sea of humanity, craving peace, comfort, and tranquility of heart, are subsumed again and again beneath the waves. When people have yet to figure out the questions that it is most crucial to understand—where they come from, why they are alive, where they are going, and so forth—they are seduced by fame and fortune, misled, controlled by them, irrevocably lost. Time flies; years pass in an eyeblink; before one realizes it, one has bid farewell to the best years of one’s life.” God’s words described my case exactly. I had become attached to the pursuit of money, fame and fortune. I had made money, obtained a life of affluence, and won the respect of my peers; but these pleasures were only fleeting: Essentially, they could not fill the aching emptiness in my heart, let alone free me from the torment of my sickness. All they could do was make me lose myself in pursuit of profit, and this is how I had frittered away so many years of my life. In fact, God didn’t arrange for us to be on this earth so we could struggle to live affluently, but instead, He wants us to believe in Him, to worship Him, to accept His guidance, to wholly submit ourselves to His arrangements, to seek to know Him, and to bear witness to His wonderous deeds. To live that way is to have meaning in one’s life. If I had failed to grasp this precious opportunity to know God, then even a life of affluence would have been completely empty and essentially incapable of bringing me any spiritual joy. At the time of death, I would only have been left empty-handed. Once I realized this, I knew what choice to make. I had a stable business and had made plenty of money. I couldn’t give in again to insatiable greed. I needed to spend more time reading the word of God and worshiping Him. As such, I tactfully refused my friend’s kind offer.
Just as I had made my decision, there came some terrible news. The uncle I had once worshiped had died from a brain hemorrhage brought on by overwork. He’d become something of a local celebrity, owning tens of millions in assets, yet his life’s glorious work disappeared in a flash and his life came to a permanent end at the age of 53. After my uncle’s death, it became even clearer to me that striving for a life of affluence does not bring any benefits—in fact, it causes terrible harm.
Another Kind of Wealth
Later, I saw these words from God: “Because the essence of God is holy, that means that only through God can you walk the bright, right road through life; only through God can you know the meaning of life, only through God can you live out a real life, possess the truth, know the truth, and only through God can you obtain life from the truth. Only God Himself can help you shun evil and deliver you from the harm and control of Satan. Besides God, no one and nothing can save you from the sea of suffering so that you suffer no longer: This is determined by the essence of God.” That’s right! God’s essence is holy and only with God’s guidance can one walk the true path. Only by living according tocan one receive His care and protection, remove oneself from all kinds of satanic temptations and harm, and lead a meaningful life. Seeing this now, I can’t help but think of Job. He didn’t spend his life striving to grow richer, and consequently he was held in high esteem by those around him. He walked the path of fearing God and shunning evil. He sought to know God’s deeds, and to wholly submit himself to God’s arrangements. When he was wealthy, he didn’t show off, but continued to live a simple life. He didn’t even attend his children’s banquets, fearing this would distance him from God. Even when Satan snatched away his wealth, he still praised God’s name. Neither making nor losing money altered his devotion to God. He stood fast and bore witness to God. In the end, Job earned God’s praise, and he went from knowing God “by the hearing of the ear” to seeing God’s true existence. His blossomed, and he came to lead a truly valuable and meaningful life. He was a man of true wealth. I was inspired by Job’s experiences. As soon as I had time in the days that followed, I kept quiet before God, read the word of God, and sang hymns in praise of Him. My body gradually recovered, and my mind also grew more and more stable, more peaceful.
Having walked this path, I knew on some deep level that my pursuit of wealth was in fact like a beautiful jacket that Satan had used to deceive me. It covered my outer body, but it could never fill the emptiness in my soul. Money, fame and fortune can’t extend one’s life, not for one minute, not for one second. A life lived without the truth has no value whatsoever. I rejoice at having come into God’s presence and at receiving the guidance of His words of life. My spirit is now at ease and at peace, and this kind of life is the only life in which one can be truly wealthy.
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