Editor’s Note: Ling Ran is a designer at an advertising agency. When her old friend outperformed her at work and gradually began to receive the approval and regard of co-workers, she was seized by a feeling of jealousy that coiled round her heart and devoured her happiness like a venomous snake. This jealousy left her in a state of agony out of which she was powerless to escape. So, how did Ling Ran free herself of jealousy and reestablish her old friendship by relying on God?
Competing With a Friend, A Miserable Existence
Ling Ran and Zhang Ke are Christians and good friends who could talk about anything with each other. Recently, the two were both hired by the same advertising agency to work as designers. Ling Ran was delighted to hear that she would be working with one of her good friends. In the beginning, Zhang Ke and Ling Ran were always helping and encouraging each other, so despite neither of them being familiar with the work, they didn’t feel particularly pressured.
Ling Ran really enjoyed this new job and worked very hard. After some time, her excellent work performance earned her the approval of her co-workers. However, not long after, Ling Ran discovered that not only was Zhang Ke making rapid progress at work, she also drew beautiful, fresh-looking images, handled her work with high proficiency, managed even the heaviest workloads, was highly organized and methodical and drew envious glances from her co-workers. What’s more, Zhang Ke was kind-hearted, always willing to help others and often helped her colleagues with work. As a result, Zhang Ke’s colleagues were all willing to listen when she shared her experience with regard to designing advertisements and would even converse with her about problems they were having in everyday life. Seeing that Zhang Ke was well liked by her colleagues and that they were all very friendly with her, Ling Ran became very upset. She thought to herself, “We’re both designers, and I’ve performed just as well at this job as Zhang Ke, so why does she get all the attention while I don’t get even the slightest compliment? This won’t do, I’ve got to redouble my efforts—I can’t come up short of her in the eyes of my colleagues!” Gradually, Ling Ran became jealous of Zhang Ke and began to avoid her.
One time, Ling Ran’s boss assigned Ling Ran and Zhang Ke to design logos for two different online stores. When Ling Ran received the assignment, she couldn’t wait to get started. She thought to herself, “Designing ads separately for different projects is the best way to show who between the two of us is the better designer. I’ve got to make the most out of this opportunity and really do a good design to show my co-workers what I’m made of.” In the days that followed, Ling Ran busied herself every day researching, designing and putting in overtime working on the logo. A few days later, the logo was finally finished. Taking stock of her work, Ling Ran was quite satisfied with the results. She believed her design was of top quality and didn’t seem to contain any flaws. Ling Ran was feeling quite pleased with herself as she handed in her design to her boss. She thought to herself: “This time I finished my design first and I spent an appreciable amount of effort researching, tweaking and editing—I’ll definitely earn my boss’s praise!” Lost in these happy thoughts, Ling Ran hummed a little tune to herself as she arrived at her workspace and turned on her computer to await the praise-laden response from her boss.
To Ling Ran’s surprise, however, the boss’s response was anything but praise-laden: As it turned out, Zhang Ke had already submitted her design much earlier, the design was approved on the very first submission and the client was very satisfied with the result. Ling Ran’s design, by contrast, still had some issues that needed to be fixed. When she received the news, Ling Ran felt deeply dejected and that feeling of jealousy began to well up inside her once again. She thought, “Why is it always you in the limelight? Am I really just inferior to you in every way?” Ling Ran was despondent; she sat there in a daze, speechless and staring blankly at the desk in front of her.
Ling Ran spent the next few days in a haze of anguish. She couldn’t focus on her work and made mistake after mistake, eventually even drawing the reprimand of her boss. When Ling Ran saw Zhang Ke chatting and laughing with her colleagues, the flame of jealousy once more reignited in her heart and she even began to hate her old friend. She felt that Zhang Ke was the cause of all her current problems, and that she had stolen her thunder and thereby diminished her stature among their colleagues. One time, Zhang Ke reached out to Ling Ran to discuss a question regarding coloration, but Ling Ran turned a cold shoulder to her out of jealousy, which left Zhang Ke in an awkward place. After this, Ling Ran avoided Zhang Ke even more, and, because she just couldn’t seem to make a name for herself in the agency, she became quiet and reserved and started to isolate herself, not wanting to converse with other co-workers. Gradually, Ling Ran became more and more depressed and stressed with work. She prayed to God, but couldn’t feel His presence and so she lost the feeling of peace and joy in her heart and experienced great suffering and torment. In the midst of her helplessness, Ling Ran called out to God, pleading, “Dear God, I get agitated and jealous of Zhang Ke when I see how good she is at her work and how highly regarded she is by our co-workers. It even makes me want to ignore her. Dear God, I’m in utter agony, I don’t want to act like this, but I just can’t control myself. Dear God, please guide me and let me know Your intention, so that I may derive some lessons from my current predicament. Amen!”
Tracing Back to the Source, Jealousy Was the Culprit
After concluding her, Ling Ran began reading “You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God” and found the following two passages of God’s word: “When you see someone stand out, you are jealous, feel hatred, and feel it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it always he who gets to stand out and it’s never my turn?’ There is some resentment. You try to repress the resentment, but you can’t, so you pray. After praying, you feel better for a little while, but later when you encounter the matter again you cannot overcome it. Is this not a case of immature stature? Is not a person’s falling into these conditions a trap? This is the bondage of a corrupt nature of Satan.” “Some people are always afraid that others will steal the limelight and surpass them, and that others will obtain recognition while they themselves are neglected, and so they spurn and exclude other people. Is this not them being jealous of people more capable than themselves? … People like this have a bad disposition and God has no love for them.”
Ling Ran was deeply moved by these two passages of God’s word—she saw that God’s word was a perfect exposition of her current thoughts and emotions. Ling Ran reflected on how ever since she had started working with Zhang Ke, whenever she observed that Zhang Ke outperformed her at work, had a strong skill set, got along with co-workers and was well regarded and highly praised by them, she would become jealous of her and, full of discontent and unwillingness to accept defeat, would secretly pit herself against Zhang Ke. To prove her own abilities and earn the approval of her co-workers, Ling Ran pushed herself to the limit studying her craft. She locked herself in competition with Zhang Ke, but when she was unable to outperform her old friend and make a name for herself among her colleagues, she would conclude that Zhang Ke had stolen her limelight and would despise, reject and avoid her more and more. At that moment, Ling Ran finally realized that the reason her soul had been engulfed by darkness and agony was that she had fallen under the sway of arrogant, self-conceited and competitive satanic disposition. Ling Ran realized that though she believed in God, she lived her life based upon the notions “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” “Distinguishing oneself and bringing honor to his ancestors,” which are Satan’s principles of survival. She was always concerning herself with standing out and being highly regarded by her peers. She wanted to have that feeling of being fawned on by a circle of admirers. As soon as someone outperformed her or stood out more than her, she would automatically be jealous of and despise them. Living in this way, she lived without even the slightest likeness of a normal human! Ling Ran realized that she and Zhang Ke had originally been good friends, and it was only because she had been bound and controlled by her satanic disposition that she felt the need to constantly compete against Zhang Ke. Not only had this been hurtful to Zhang Ke, but had caused Ling Ran, herself, great and seemingly inextricable suffering.
Ling Ran was reminded, then, of the story of King Saul recorded in the. King Saul developed a jealous hatred toward David after he won the praise of the Israelites for his victorious record in battle. Later, Saul, fearing that David would win the allegiance of the Israelites and that he would thus be deposed as king, went on a crazed, murderous hunt of his son-in-law. Even though Saul knew that God had anointed David, he still resolved to send him to the grave and thereby openly took God as his enemy. In the end, he was abandoned by the Holy Spirit and died in battle. The story gave Ling Ran the chills: to think how a desire to stand out above the rest could lead one to be controlled and bound by one’s own jealous heart. How very dangerous! What’s more, the more jealous one becomes the greater the suffering endured, leading ultimately and inevitably to torment by Satan and death! At that point, Ling Ran thanked God from the bottom of her heart for His illumination and guidance, which allowed her to clearly see the source and consequences of her jealousy. For, if she continued to live by Satan’s corrupt disposition, she would only earn God’s detest and disgust. Ling Ran was no longer willing to live by Satan’s corrupt disposition, she resolved to cast off her corrupt disposition and start anew.
Acting by God’s Word, a Friendship Renewed
Later, Ling Ran came across another passage of God’s word, “If a person has cast off these corrupt dispositions, is he then free and liberated? Ponder this: What kind of changes must a person make if he wants to refrain from falling into these conditions and free himself of the vexations of these things? What must a person obtain before he can free himself of the bonds of these things, and be able truly to be free and liberated? On one hand, a person must see through things: These fame and fortune and positions are tools and methods for Satan to corrupt people, to entrap them, to harm them, and to cause their degeneration. You must first see this clearly in theory. Then, you must learn to give up these things and set them aside. … If you are always focusing on these things, always struggling for these things, if your heart is fully occupied with these things, if you always harbor them and never want to put them aside, then you are being controlled by and bound by these things. You have become a slave, and you cannot give them up. You must learn to give up and set aside these things, to yield, to recommend others, to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle furiously and rush to take advantage as soon as you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain honor. … The more you give up and set aside, the more peaceful your heart will be and the more space will open up within it, and the more your condition will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker will be your condition; try it if you don’t believe it. If you want to turn around this kind of condition, if you want not to be controlled by these things, then you must first set them aside and give them up” (“You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God”).
God’s word gave Ling Ran a practical guideline moving forward. If she wanted to drive the jealousy from her heart and find a way out of this painful situation, she would have to consciously act as God required when she encountered any of the issues troubling her in real life. She would have to actively rebel against the flesh, abandon her vanity and desire for status, disregard the opinions of others, and only strive to live before God in quiet and humble obscurity. Reflecting on how, because of her jealousy of Zhang Ke, Ling Ran had been duped and tormented by Satan, living in pure agony, she resolved to rely upon God and abandon her jealous heart. Afterward, whenever Ling Ran could feel herself reverting into her previous jealous and competitive ways, she would immediately pray to God, ponder the passages of God’s word she had read previously, practice rebelling against her improper thoughts and emotions according to God’s word, casting off her jealous heart and refraining from competition with Zhang Ke. Slowly, Ling Ran’s situation improved and she felt less aggrieved in her heart.
Days later, when Ling Ran and Zhang Ke met by chance in the break room, Ling Ran wanted to take the opportunity to share what she had been feeling with Zhang Ke, but she suddenly felt butterflies in her stomach and her heart began to race; she thought to herself, “If I tell her what’s been on my mind, what if she looks down on me?” Ling Ran prayed to God in her heart, asking God for guidance and help. Ling Ran finally summoned her courage and opened up to Zhang Ke about how she had been jealous of her and had intentionally avoided her recently. She also shared her new experience and understanding of God’s word. When Ling Ran had finished, not only did Zhang Ke not look down upon her, she even warmly replied, “We’ve all been corrupted by Satan and have corrupt disposition. By opening up and communing with me you’re practicing the truth! Thanks be to God! If we encounter any problems in the future we can just talk them through and rely upon God together to help us resolve things.” The two locked eyes and smiled. Ling Ran felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off her and she felt much more at peace in her heart.
Sometime after, Ling Ran felt as though she had already made some real changes and no longer felt jealousy toward Zhang Ke, but God knew her actual stature and state and thus orchestrated another situation to test her …
One time, the design department held a meeting to discuss an outdoor ad design project. When Zhang Ke shared her idea for the project, her co-workers found it to be very novel and heaped praise on her. When Ling Ran saw that Zhang Ke’s idea had once again gained the approval of her co-workers, she felt a bit sad and overlooked. This time, however, Ling Ran immediately realized she had the wrong attitude and prayed to God, “Dear God! I’m slipping back into my old ways. When I saw Zhang Ke being praised, I started getting jealous again. God! I pray that You may give me the power to overcome my sinfulness and help me cast off my corrupt, satanic disposition!”
After finishing her prayer, Ling Ran thought of the following passage from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “Is it difficult to turn enviousness into admiration? Ruminate over the bright side then, ‘Isn’t it great that he is so good? We now have a role model to follow. We can benefit from him. Since he is better than us, we can learn from him when we don’t understand something. It is an extra pathway for us!’” (“How to Pursue the Truth in Order to Gain the Truth”). After meditating on this sermon, Ling Ran felt lighter and more at ease in her heart. She realized that, insofar as Zhang Ke was more skilled at her work, she ought to learn from her strengths to bolster her own weaknesses. Only in this way would she see improvements in her own work. If she persisted in being jealous of Zhang Ke and living with a corrupt disposition, there was only so much she would be able to learn through her own research and she would improve very slowly. At the same time, Ling Ran also realized that it had been part of God’s wondrous plan to place Ling Ran and Zhang Ke in the same agency. God knew that she had been thoroughly corrupted by Satan, and that her nature was arrogant and eager to outshine others. God had placed a highly talented designer in her division to expose her inner corrupt disposition, allow her to recognize the reality of her thorough corruption by Satan, and realize the consequences of living according to Satan’s corrupt disposition. In so doing, He allowed her to break free of Satan’s corruption and torment, and by acting according to God’s word, she was able to live out the likeness of a normal human. On that day, God had once again arranged a situation for her. He didn’t want her to continue living in that corrupt disposition of envy for talent; He didn’t want her to continue to be deceived by Satan into competition and struggle with others. Rather, He wanted her to seek the truth, and thoroughly walk out from under the veil of Satan’s disposition, free and unrestrained. Once she had understood God’s intention, Ling Ran felt clear-minded and her jealousy for Zhang Ke unwittingly vanished. What’s more, Ling Ran realized that being in a place with co-workers who were more talented than her was a great opportunity to learn and improve her own skills. If her co-workers were more talented, she would be the only one who could improve in this way! She was willing to set her pride aside and learn from Zhang Ke’s strengths. She wanted to use her practical actions to humiliate Satan. Having made these realizations, Ling Ran regained a sense of tranquility and began interacting more with her colleagues and actively engaging in discussions.
When Ling Ran stopped being jealous of and competitive toward Zhang Ke and started learning from her with an open-mind, she found that Zhang Ke really had many strengths. She had a strong sense of responsibility, was patient and when co-workers ran into problems, she would go to great lengths to help them. Even if Ling Ran lost her temper, Zhang Ke was still patient and forgiving. Ling Ran realized that Zhang Ke was strongest in the areas that she was weakest, so she tried to learn from Zhang Ke and would often discuss design questions with her. After a little while, Ling Ran also made some very substantial improvements in her work and finally realized that Zhang Ke wasn’t her competitor, but her best collaborator and friend. Ling Ran was no longer bound by a jealous heart and found great enjoyment in her spiritual life. She also felt more and more unrestrained in her heart. She knew that all of this was made possible by God’s word and she thanked God from the bottom of her heart for His salvation!
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