Bible Reading Made Easy

Cheat to Honest: Change of A Merchant

By Ma Lan

I was as honest as my parents taught me to be. Although I led a poor life, I was delighted every day. Later, as the socio-economic development gained speed, my desire for money became greater and greater. So the whole family couldn’t actually live on the several acres of land we cultivated. To make a living, we opened a small recycling station in the city with the borrowed money. Because we didn’t know anything about how to do business, much less did we know the inside stories of this industry, we simply believed that as long as we were steadfastly willing to toil and labor, doing business with credibility, we were sure to make big money.

Right on the opening day, a customer came to sell us a truckload of scrap iron. I was wild with joy, receiving him with hospitality and weighing the iron fair and square. He was greatly satisfied, saying, “I have never got so much money from selling the same load in other recycling stations. You really do fair business. I must call all my friends and relatives to sell scrap to you.” Hearing his words, I was overjoyed, and even more believed that if I did business according to my conscience, my business must be more and more thriving. However, when we were ready to load the scrap we had collected for several months and deliver them to another place, we found in them there were piles of junk, such as, bricks, stones, sandbags, and so on. At the sight of this, I was stunned. How could these businessmen be so conscienceless? Afterward, it was from a hometown fellow that I knew these men specially hunted for the newly-opened recycling stations, and taking advantage of their ignorance of the market, they cheated them so as to earn dirty money. So, after several months of hard work, not only did we not earn any money, we even lost several thousand yuan. To keep our business, my husband and I had to borrow money from relatives and friends.

Yet never had I thought that, before long, the people’s police also found us to defraud us. That day I was tidying up things at home when several policemen came with a ten–year–old child. They forcibly framed me by saying that I bought the stolen goods from this child. Not allowing me to speak, they forced me into the police car and took me to the police station. They detained me and did not release me to return home until my husband had to give them three thousand yuan. Afterward, these policemen found fault with us on various unwarranted charges frequently. They not only fined us but often took away my husband and my son. That disturbed our regular business. We couldn’t but supply the police station with money and goods constantly. I hated these so-called policemen to the bone. They were even more detestable than gangs of bandits and robbers! But how could we common people resist them? We could only stifle our indignation when facing their open extortion and blackmail time after time.

Because of these policemen, once again, we were up to the hilt in debt and sank into despair, having no way out. At this point, my in-law came to threaten us, saying, “I married my daughter to your son because I had thought you could become rich. But your family turn out to be so cowardly that you cannot even manage your business. I can’t stand watching my daughter suffering. Get them divorced.” His words struck a chill in my heart. I couldn’t help yelling within: Oh, the Lord of Heaven! Why do people today only have eyes for money? Where is their conscience, mortality, and humanity? I felt grieved and helpless. But in order to preserve the integrity of my family, I knelt down and promised him: No matter how hard our life is, I won’t let my daughter-in-law suffer. Only then did my in-law grudgingly allow my daughter-in-law to stay. Faced with such blows time and again, I fell ill and my whole being fell into a trance. The only wish I had then was: earning money. Without money, the life couldn’t go on.

Just when I was stranded, a business colleague and hometown fellow came to visit me. She said to me, “Aunt, you can’t earn much money by doing business straightforwardly. To tell you the truth, if you want to earn big money from collecting scrap, you’ll have to make good use of the scales. When others come to sell scrap, you can play tricks on the scale, make your scale read several pounds less than the actual weight, and then you’ll get the money.” I said, “Does your way work? Isn’t cheating on the scales entrapping others and going against conscience?” She laughed after listening to my words, “You have been cheated to such an extent; do you still hold on your conscience? Have the policemen showed mercy on you? Or the black-hearted two-way merchants? In this society, ‘The bold die of gluttony; the timid die of starvation.’ Conscience has no worth. ‘Whoever gives me money is my father; and whoever feeds me is my mother.’ If we common people still hold on our conscience, then we will have no means to survive. The saying has it that ‘Money makes the mare go,’ so you’d better think out ways in time to make money and solve your present difficulties. Up. Come to live in my house for several days and I’ll teach you how to make money.” Under her persuasion, I went to her house involuntarily. The means she used to do business basically opened my eyes. She weighed the scrap as she talked and laughed with the seller; while in secret, her hand shifted, pressing up on the scale from beneath, then the scale read dozens of kilograms or even hundreds of kilograms less than the actual weight of the object. Besides, no one could notice that. As I saw this, I was stupefied and sighed: How smart she is! No wonder she has made a fortune these years. I got it!

After I returned home, I immediately tried to exercise the tricks taught by my hometown fellow. At the very start, I did so with great cowardice and fear. That day, I was prepared to give a customer short weight by adjusting my scale to read 20 pounds less than the actual weight. But I was very afraid and my skill was not that good; at last, I went for wool and came back shorn: I just made the scrap weigh 10 pounds more than it actually did, plus my heart fluttered with fear. Although my first try ended in failure, however, for the sake of money and our future life, I still continued to try it with fear. Several times of “training” later, I was bold and skilled, and moreover, every time I saw the extra couple of yuan, dozens of yuan, or hundreds of yuan I earned this way, I had indescribable enjoyment in my heart. It never occurred to me that with tricks, I could earn money so easily. It seemed that if I went on like this, I would soon become a rich person, and never need worry about money. Thinking of this, I was bolder and bolder to do this, and I dared to give short weight to whoever the seller was. Especially when dealing with big business, I would make the scrap weigh much less, i.e. even thousands of pounds less than the actual weight, while the seller totally didn’t discover it. In this way, I could profit several hundred yuan from each deal. Just like that, under the temptation of money, my conscience became more and more numb.

With this cheating method, I gathered a big deal of money by fair means or foul just in a few years. After I paid off all our debts, I still had dozens of thousands of savings. I had thought I could live a worry-free life then, but I hadn’t expected that later, misfortunes came upon my family one after another: My second son was cheated into pyramid selling and out of more than thirty hundred yuan; later, he made a girlfriend, who was also a liar, and again was cheated out of fifty to sixty thousand yuan; one day when we went back to our hometown, our station was stripped bare. All at once, the dirty money I earned was lost and my family was poor again. With such blows coming in a row, I fell ill. For half a month, I had lost my appetite and later, I even did not have the strength to get out of the bed. The doctor told my husband, “Your wife’s illness couldn’t be cured easily. Maybe even her life would be at risk. You’d better prepare for the worst in advance.” During that time, I was always in an unspeakable panic and unease. I kept asking myself: My parents have taught me to be a good person and to do things with my conscience since I was young. But all these years I went against my conscience to earn easy money by cheating. Am I offending the Heaven and so the Heaven is taking it back? I began calling in my heart: Oh, the Lord of Heaven, please save me!

Just in the time of my agony and bewilderment, in January 2013, God’s work of the last days came upon me. I felt I was like a strayed lamb who returned back to its mother’s side. In the days when I attended meetings with brothers and sisters, I felt God’s love: My heart is greatly comforted, immersed in the peace and joy that can’t be described. Brothers and sisters all helped each other and loved each other, and could follow God’s words to pursue to be a real man. I like such an environment and such a church life very much. One day, I saw God’s words that said: “you ought to know that God likes an honest man. God has the substance of faithfulness, and so His word can always be trusted. Furthermore, His actions are faultless and unquestionable. This is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him. Honesty means to give your heart to God; never to play Him false in anything; to be open with Him in all things, never hiding the truth; never to do that which deceives those above and deludes those below; and never to do that which merely ingratiates 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” (“Three Admonitions”). From God’s words, I realized that God is the truth and the symbol of justice. God’s essence is faithful and sincere, so God also asks us to be an honest person, not to deceive others or tell lies. God likes upstanding people, not deceitful people. All these years, in order to earn more money, I did many deceitful things that betrayed my conscience. This way of doing things could not please God but was detestable to Him. Having read God words, I made a secret resolution within: I must believe in God with my heart, to be a person that has conscience, and to do things according to God’s words. I can’t do dishonest business again.

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