By Xinai, Taiwan
One day, I made a date with my sister, whom I had known for more than ten years, for afternoon tea at her house. That day she entertained me to top scented tea, cakes, and dessert. Then she chatted about how much she spent recently on fancy purses and clothes. Halfway through our chat, I saw a thick wad of credit card bills were placed on the table, so I asked why she had so many bills. She hesitated for several minutes and then wept slowly. She said that because all sisters around her were comparing with each other, admiring famous brands, and attaching importance to a high-quality and upscale life, in order not to degrade herself before them, she kept shopping by credit cards to maintain common taste with them. Now she could hardly pay interest to the bank. I was struck to see my friend trapped into financial problems due to the pursuit of famous brands. I seemed to witness my past self….
I also cared a lot about face and upward comparison before. I was always so afraid of others’ despisal. As a result, I suffered Satan’s deception.
When I was 17 years old, I began to work. My workmates and friends were simple at that time, without high demands for material life. Plain dressing and full eating were sufficient to us. So we had little pressure living a relaxed life. Afterward, I changed my job. I came into contact with white-collar whose frequent topics were designer bags and clothes. They often showed off the brands and prices of their clothes, and asked me where I bought my clothes and how much they cost. After hearing my answers, they immediately said with scorn, “What? You are wearing such cheap clothes?” I felt hurt by these words. I told myself, “I can’t be belittled. I must get what they have!” Thus, I began paying attention to my dressing and the improvement of living standard. When I first used my credit card to buy a G Brand handbag, all my workmates said my handbag was so beautiful and suitable to me. Enjoying their compliments, I felt self-satisfied and proud. I thought: It is good to possess a designer handbag. I became integrated into their lives in such a way. Then, I had topics in common to chat with them. Unconsciously, I was also involved into comparison with others.
Once, my workmate bought a watch which cost over 30,000 yuan. She showed it off before me every day. I was unbearably angry. Several days later, I bought the same brand of watch whose price was 20,000 yuan higher than hers. Subsequently, she bought a diamond ring worth more than 100,000 yuan. I was indeed unable to go on comparing myself to her. Several years later, my workmates bought houses one after another. Although I had no enough money, I didn’t want to be looked down upon for losing out in the comparison. I got a loan from a bank and paid 150,000 down for a suite. When I just managed to repay my housing loan, they began to buy cars. And I followed them to buy a new car imported from Japan with another bank loan. The economic pressures often caused me sleeplessness. Sometimes, only the sleeping pills could make me fall asleep.
By chance, I met a friend whom I hadn’t seen for years. After greeting each other, she spread theof the to me. I was baptized a Christian soon. During those years, we carried out our functions together in the church. Accompanied by brothers and sisters, I enjoyed the Lord’s presence and a free life. My heart also took some consolation. But the only thing that didn’t change was my lifestyle.
Once, one of my good friends spent 38,000 yuan on a well-known handbag. She paraded how good it was before me every day. I thought: I am not unable to afford it. Afterward, I asked her to take me to buy one just like hers. At the time, the shop assistant recommended me a pair of sunglasses priced at 17,500 yuan immediately. When we were to leave after having bought sunglasses, a small purse priced at 13,000 yuan caught her fancy. She bought two at a time, one of which was for her sister. Meanwhile, she suggested that I buy one too, saying that only so were we like sisters while walking together. I thought: This small purse itself is not only of little practical use but so expensive. Furthermore, I will run up nearly 70,000 yuan on my credit card if I buy it. It’ll take months to work for repayment. Having noticed that I had no intention of purchase, she said, “It’s pretty cute and suitable for you, why not buy one?” I felt ashamed at once, thinking, “If I don’t buy it, will she consider it is beyond my pocket? And my image in her heart must be broken.” I was placed in a dilemma. In the end, I bought one by credit card. In order to pay the minimum payment on my credit card, I had to spend 16 hours on two jobs every day. As a result of lack of sleep, my eyes were always bloodshot. I started to lose my memory and weight. Prolonged exertion sallowed my skin. My stomach also went wrong. I often thought: Why am I feeling more and more stressed? Look at all of my relatives, friends, and workmates around me. They are intentionally or unintentionally comparing their money, houses, and cars with that of others. They live so hard! I prayed to the Lord many times, and searched the Bible for an answer. But I didn’t gain enlightenment from God, and I felt lost.
Afterward, I met a brother in. Through our communication, I came to understand many mysteries in the Bible not understood by me before. Moreover, I felt the brother was a devout and honest Christian whose words were wise. We became good spiritual companions. After that, he told me, “The Lord Jesus has come back, expressed millions of words, and done the work of judgment beginning with the house of God. Formerly, the Lord Jesus was nailed on the cross for the redemption of man. He took on the sins of all mankind. From then on, as long as we accepted the Lord Jesus as our redeemer and prayed in His name, our sins would be forgiven. And we could obtain the grace and blessings the Lord bestowed upon us. But what cannot be denied is that, though the Lord Jesus has forgiven our sins, we haven’t been free from the bondage of sin. We still pursue the world trends and vanity and live in sin without release. The Bible says, ‘And holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). Could people living in the state of sinning and confessing like us ? Therefore, God is incarnated this time principally in order to solve the problem of our committing sins. The judgment of Almighty God’s words reveals our nature and substance of resisting and rebelling against God. Then we see the truth that we have been corrupted by Satan and begin to hate ourselves. We are unwilling to live by our corrupt disposition or Satan’s poisons, much less to be fooled by Satan anymore. Instead, we are willing to lead a life to practice the truth according to God’s word. We beheld His work of judgment by the word could really change us.” After hearing the brother’s fellowship, though I didn’t have too much knowledge of God’s work, I knew that I indeed need the salvation of God, for my sin hadn’t been solved even if I had believed in the Lord for several years. Later, I gathered together with brothers and sisters to read God’s words, to watch movies and MV. I could gain results in every meeting. I truly felt the leadership of the work of the Holy Spirit! In addition, through reading God’s words, I discovered every bit of His words carries authority and is the expression of His disposition. His words changed my past misunderstandings toward Him. Through seeking and investigating for several months, I knew beyond all doubt that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returning to flesh.
Once, I dolled myself up with makeup, natty clothes and the dearest handbag in my wardrobe for a meeting. When arriving at the meeting place, I saw my brothers and sisters all were simply dressed. In such a case, I felt a bit out of place, like a fish out of water. After a period of contact, I found my brothers and sisters living at ease. There was no upward comparison between them. They focused on pursuing the truth and living out normal humanity and the reality of God’s word, rather than running after social trends or admiring famous brands. By contrast, I kept packaging myself, living such a hard and tiring life. So I poured out my troubles to my brothers and sisters. They read a passage of God’s word to me: “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day, and there is not a single person who will willingly give up anything for God, not a single person who will willingly obey God, nor, moreover, a single person who will willingly seek the appearance of God. Instead, under the domain of Satan, man does nothing but pursue pleasure, giving himself over to the corruption of the flesh in the land of mud.” After reading these words, they fellowshiped with me, “God’s words exposed the root of our pain and trouble. Satan deceives and lures us by means of social trends, unhealthy practices and evil phenomena. Without truth, we can’t differentiate between positive things and negative things at all, so that we have no way but to accept Satan’s viewpoint and follow social trends, sinking deeper and deeper into them. For instance, comparing with others, spending on luxury things, and flaunting wealth are popular in society. Such an atmosphere fills every corner of the world. At present, everyone compares houses, cars, money, and power with others. Even students compare with each other in designer clothes, cellphones, and 3C products (information home appliances, including the computer, communication and consumer electronics). Under the influence of this kind of environment, our desire to compare with the higher and our jealousy of others are growing. Some do everything for their sake, including selling out their personalities, dignity, and bottom lines by which they conduct themselves. All of these were caused by the evil trends raised up by Satan.”
I agreed on their fellowship very much. I thought about a verse in the Bible, “The whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Then, look at my friends: They are influenced by the environment so that they all care about food, dressing and admire famous brands. At last they become slaves to their cars and houses. On the surface, we obtained temporary material pleasures and our vanity was satisfied. However, in the face of these bills, only we ourselves knew the financial pressure, mental strain, physical tiredness, and bitterness hidden within us. Indeed, people nowadays regards frugality as shame, extravagance as honor; those who live a calm life within their bounds are considered incapable. Influenced by various distorted ideologies, I also became over ambitious and too vainglorious to live within my bounds. To win others’ esteem and admiration, I got beyond my depth. I pretended to be a rich woman, and even always worried about gaining and losing face, spending my life in falsity and misery. I sacrificed not only my health but time with my family to pay off those bills. Actually, my so many years of pursuit was meaningless.
I realized Satan abuses and fools man by means of comparing with each other, admiring famous brands, and laying stress on high-quality and upscale life. But when my friends invited me to buy prestigious commodities again, I still had no command over myself. Sometimes, though I could control my outward actions, I was still unable to let go of my inward thoughts. So I prayed to God, asking Him to lead me to triumph over Satan’s temptations. I saw these words of God: “In this evil age, in this age infested by unclean spirits and devils, you should pray that God’s kindness and protection will often be with you, that He looks after you and protects you, so that your heart won’t leave God, and you can strive to use your heart and your honesty to worship God.” “Do not come into contact with things that can draw your heart away to the outside, and do not come into contact with people who can draw your heart away from God. Drop whatever it is that can distract your heart from being close to God, or stay away from it. That way is more beneficial to your life.” God’s words gave me the direction and way of practice. He knew my little stature, and that I was incapable of discriminating Satan’s scheme or of self-control in practicing the truth. Thus I should avoid whatever enticed me. I need learn to forsake my flesh, pay attention to reading His words, and establish a proper relationship with Him. After practicing in this way for a while, I found my life was no longer tiring and my smile became sincere.
Several months later, it was time for the department stores to discount. My friend asked me to accompany her to buy clothes. As she selected a dozen clothes and invited me to purchase together, it occurred to me that God dislikes those who seek vainglory. I shouldn’t buy needless things to save my face or to flatter friends. No matter whether she would look down upon me, I told her, “I don’t want to splash out any longer. My clothes are enough for me, so I won’t buy.” After speaking these words, I felt free and liberated, as well as pleased because of putting the truth into practice. At the following times, whenever my friend invited me to the department stores, I always bought nothing. I neither kept my eye on famous brands nor bought needless goods for my face. At that moment, I felt it was so happy to break away from the bondage and constraint of vanity and face and from comparison with others.
Now I won’t feel myself inferior because of lacking famous brands, neither will I be overwhelmed by sorrow for losing face, much less will I work early and late to repay my credit card bills. Gradually I have been restored to health. By reading God’s words together with my brothers and sisters, I consider every day is quite meaningful. God says: “Only if one knows God and has the truth does he live in the light; and only when his view of the world and his view of life change does he change fundamentally. When he has a life goal and comports himself according to the truth; when he absolutely submits to God and lives by God’s word; when he feels assured and brightened deep in his soul; when his heart is free of darkness; and when he lives completely freely and unrestrained in God’s presence—only then does he live a true human life and become a person possessing truth. Besides, all the truths you have are from God’s word and from God Himself. The Ruler of the entire universe and all things—God Most High—approves of you, as a real man living the true human life. What could be more meaningful than God’s approval? Such is a person who has the truth. … Only God is the truth. God controls the heavens and earth and everything in them and has dominion over all. Not to, not to submit to God is to be unable to obtain truth. If you live according to God’s word, you will feel a clarity, stability, and incomparable sweetness in the depths of your heart; you will have truly obtained life.” Thank God! It was God who saved me and led me onto the right path of life. Today I have understood the pursuit of the truth is my life goal. All the glory be to Almighty God!