A Tale Happened in the Kitchen

By Liangliang

Look here. Do you think I’m handsome?” said Cook Erpang abruptly in the gourmet kitchen, who stood 1.7 meters and was nearly 90 kg in weight. We roared at his words and said jokingly, “Yes, yes, yes. You’re so good-looking. …” After laughing, I remembered the truth of being an honest person a sister fellowhiped in a meeting some time ago. She said that an honest people always called a spade a spade. So I said to Cook Erpang earnestly, “You’re remarkably fat and not handsome.” When hearing the truth, he laid the spoon down and came up to me. Then, putting one of his strong arms round my neck, he said, “Lao Zhang (I am only 18 years of age), say it again?” To the eye, I was so brave that I said to him once more, “Even if you strangle me, you’re still not handsome but remarkably fat.” But in reality, I knew that he had the best relationship with me in this restaurant. After hearing my words, he let me go helplessly. This elicited a fresh burst of laugh.

That afternoon, on my way to a meeting I was in high spirits. It was the first time I had practiced being an honest person ever since I had believed in God for over a year, as nowadays people all took it that those who said very smooth things were popular and those who spoke in a very straightforward manner were unpopular, and I was no exception. After my practice today, I felt it quite easy to pedal the bicycle. No sooner had I entered the parlor of the meeting place than I said excitedly to the brothers and sisters, “Today I’ve practiced the truth of being an honest person….” After hearing my experience, they all grinned from ear to ear. Then one sister said, “This is not called the practice of being an honest people.” “What? It’s not the practice of being an honest person? Doesn’t being an honest person mean calling a spade a spade?” I asked, puzzled. She answered, “To be an honest person is to refrain from impurity in our words and to tell the truth. That’s right. But most importantly, we should have no deceit in our hearts and have normal relationships with others. Don’t steer the middle course. Don’t be crooked or crafted. Don’t act in a slick way. Especially when it comes to personal interests, we can give up our own intentions to be an honest man. …”

After the meeting finished, on my way to work I was contemplating the principles of being an honest person fellowshiped today. I prayed to God silently, “O God! Through the sister’s fellowhship I’ve come to know a bit of truth of being an honest man. May You arrange people, matters, and things to train me so that I can become a truly honest man.” God heard my prayer and arranged the environment soon …

One day after breakfast, true to form, I was preparing the ingredients for cooking in the kitchen, where the boss, Cook Erpang, and other colleagues were all engaged. Having cut meat into slices, I recollected that twice-cooked pork slices sold very well yesterday, so I should prepare more pork slices. Then I looked in the refrigerator for the frozen meat, but could not see it after repeatedly searching for quite a long time. I was surprised, “Why, where’s the meat? I remember that the boss had bought it yesterday. Does it grow legs and run away itself?” When I closed the refrigerator, it suddenly came to me that the pork was still in the cabinet type steamer, so I quickly went over there. I had hardly opened its door 10 cm wide when an odor of dead mice assailed my nose. I shut it quickly; my heart thumped: I’m finished! I’m finished! I’m finished! Over 10kg of meat has spoiled. What can I do? … I was immediately scared out of my wits. At so crucial a time, the boss suddenly came here. He frowned and asked, “Why is there a smell of dead mice?” I did not dare to make any response, for I knew not what to say actually. He did not ask again and left soon. Then I said quickly to Cook Erpang, “As it is, the odor of dead mice the boss just smelt is …” Here I opened the cabinet type steamer. “Heavens! Why were you so careless? How could you forget to take it out yesterday? …” said Cook Erpang aloud, surprised. I interrupted him anxiously, “Alas! Stop saying that! What am I now to do? That’s over 10kg of meat.” He thought for a second, and replied calmly, “No matter, Lao Zhang. I’m experienced in this matter. Listen to me. Wash it with cold water first, and then freeze it in the refrigerator immediately. We can sell it all the same.” At these words, I lost no time in doing so, but a thought suggested itself to me when I just washed several pieces of meat: Isn’t it trying to deceive everybody? I should admit my mistake to the boss because it’s surely my fault, which is what an open and aboveboard man should do. But then I changed my mind and thought: If the boss knows, he will not only dock my salary, but in addition let fly at me with a stream of abuse. At this last thought, I said tentatively to Cook Erpang, “Or … I might as well tell the truth to the boss? …” Cook Erpang hastened to cut in, “Alas! You’ve let me know; that’s enough. He will dock your salary if you tell him, and may probably scold you.” His words were after my own heart and my faint idea of avowing to the boss was abandoned right away. Then I hastily began once more to wash the meat.

At around 2 p.m., on my way back to my dormitory, I felt it quite hard to pedal the bicycle this time, because I knew I had made a mistake. When I got home, my uneasiness reached a certain extent. I suddenly thought of my last prayer in which I begged God to arrange the environment for me to practice being an honest man. Right! On the face of it, today my encountering this matter is bad luck, but if I can seek the truth and be honest in compliance with God’s will, my life will grow, which cannot be purchased with any material thing. After thinking of that, I came before God to pray, “O God! You’ve answered my last prayer. But when this thing happened to me today, my heart wasn’t quiet before You to seek the truth, which left me exhausted mentally and physically. Now it has come to this point, and I have my fears that the boss will investigate the responsibility. O God! I beg You to give me directions.…” After the prayer, God’s words occurred to me, which were in the principles associated with being an honest person, “Honesty means to give your heart to God; to never play Him false in anything; to be open with Him in all things, never cover the truth; to never do that which deceives those above and deludes those below; and to never do that which is done merely to ingratiate yourself with God. In short, to be honest is to refrain from impurity in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man.” And God’s word also says, “Whenever you do anything, you must examine whether your motivations are right. If you are able to act according to the requirements of God, then your relationship with God is normal. This is the minimum criterion. If, when you examine your motivations, there emerge those that are incorrect, and if you are able to turn your back on them and act according to the words of God, then you will become someone who is right before God, which will show that your relationship with God is normal, and that all that you do is for the sake of God, and not for yourself. Whenever you do or say anything, you must put your heart right, be righteous, and not be led by your emotions, or act according to your own will. These are the principles by which believers in God conduct themselves.” God’s words made me realize that an honest person can place everything in front of God and accept God’s searching. He is innocent and open before God, and there is no hypocrisy, falsehood, or cheat in what he says and does. That I forgot to take the meat out of the cabinet type steamer was occasioned by my carelessness in work; it was my mistake after all. However, when the boss found something was wrong and asked the cause, I only cared about my personal interests, affecting not to know it. Wasn’t this deceit? Much as I felt guilt afterward, I could suppress the fact deliberately in order to assert my interests, to avoid being blamed by the boss, and to avert salary deduction. Was this not deceiving others openly? God set up an environment for me to experience, and told me how to be honest; I, however, recoiled from it, following the words of Cook Erpang who did not believe in God. My behavior was completely like that of an unbeliever. Thinking about this, I decided to apologize to the boss. No matter whether he would dock my salary, or teach me before my colleagues, I had to admit my fault, because this was the most elementary principle by which I, a believer in God, should act.

When evening came I went to work again. Before changing into working clothes I came to the kitchen with a view to apologizing to the boss. Finding that the boss had not arrived yet, I spoke to Cook Erpang first, “I’ve decided to acknowledge my fault to the boss.” Hearing what I said, he quickly advised me, “You’ve told me; that’s enough. If the boss knows, you will have a miserable end.” I had a little anxiety when hearing him say so, since I hardly ever chatted with the boss after contacting with him for so long except when it came to work. But when I thought that God likes honest people and thought of the determination to practice the truth I made before I came to work, courage gathered anew in my heart. Naturally, the words of Cook Erpang had no effect upon me. Very shortly afterward, the boss came, and his voice made my heart gallop. So I prayed to God constantly in my heart and asked Him to give me courage. Then I went up to the boss, and, stifling my feeling of nervous, said, “Boss, I’d to admit my mistake to you.” He smiled as I had never spoken to him so gravely and, moreover, for making an apology. He said, “What is it?” “As a matter of fact, the odor of dead mice you smelt this morning was from the meat that I forgot to take out from the steamer yesterday. I’m sorry.” At the moment when I finished my words, I was especially relieved and had a joy beyond description in my heart. Unexpectedly, after hearing my apology, he said, “Oh, no matter. Be careful next time.” From the expression of his face, I saw that he was not angry and had no intention to reproach me at all. At the same time, Cook Erpang was nodding and smiling to me. In face of all these unexpected scenes, I really tasted the sweetness of practicing being an honest person.

Then, one evening, I ate and talked with Cook Erpang and another colleague. During our chat, Cook Erpang took a swallow of beer and sighed with emotion, “There’s one thing I most admire Lao Zhang for. It is that you could say those words to acknowledge your fault to the boss. … If I were you, I would never make it.” With these words he turned to our colleague and asked, “What about you?” The latter shook his head, “Neither do I.” After these words were spoken, I offered up my praises to God silently in my heart, “Thanks be to God! But for God’s guidance, I couldn’t do it either, for I was also one of the corrupt people who don’t have the truth and who need God’s salvation.”

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