Bible Reading Made Easy

How to Maintain Friendships in Face of Profits

By Lizhi

Xu Jiao was an apprentice in a cake shop. Because of the increase of customers, a new apprentice called A’nan was employed. She and Xu Jiao are alike in age, and both of them are Christians, so naturally they had common language on many things and soon they became close friends.

Several months raced by. Xu Jiao’s baking skills had improved a lot, and she always had some originality in making cakes. One day, after the shop manager saw Xu Jiao’s several original cakes, she found Xu Jiao had a gift for this job, so she decided to transfer her to learn to make decorative cakes. This news created a wave of the old staff’s emotion. Xu Jiao, who had just come for a few months, had won the appreciation of the manager. It was unavoidable that the old staff would be jealous of her. But fortunately, the manager looked favorably upon her and praised her original cakes each time, so that Xu Jiao’s vanity was greatly satisfied. She thought: “I must continue working hard and gain achievements so that those people who look down on me will look at me with new eyes.” And then Xu Jiao began to learn the new skills. A’nan and Xu Jiao weren’t in the same post, but it didn’t affect their relationship. Instead, in Xu Jiao’s spare time, she taught A’nan what she had learned and encouraged her to make cakes in new styles.

friendship

After some effort, A’nan’s skill also improved a lot and one day she made a creative cake independently. After tasting it, most apprentices complimented her on her baking skills, and even the baker also repeatedly praised her cake. Xu Jiao, her friend, naturally felt happy for her. However, day after day passed by, and their colleagues were still praising A’nan. Facing the unexpected situation, Xu Jiao was a little jealous and thought: “Why do you continually praise her? My previous cakes were also not bad, but you have never praised me like this.” But then she consoled herself with the thought that A’nan’s cakes were indeed good, so it was not a big deal for others to praise her. After this, she didn’t feel that heartsick. However, that was not the end of the story.

One day, when Xu Jiao was chatting with A’nan, A’nan received a message from the manager, and it said: “A’nan, the cake you made last time was good, and have you had any new ideas recently? I’m looking forward to your next original cake.” Looking at this message, Xu Jiao remained calm outwardly, but felt uncomfortable in heart: “The manager personally sent a message to A’nan; it seems that she looks favorably upon her. Now, A’nan is excellent in every aspect. At this rate will the colleagues think she came later than me but now is better than me? If so, will they still look up to me? I hope A’nan can make a progress on her skills, but I don’t hope she surpasses me. Nope, I have to make a more creative cake, in case she will take over my spotlight.”

One time, while Xu Jiao was studying a way to make cakes, A’nan said to her, radiant, “I’m a regular baker now. Our manager said one of my cake was better than my master’s. And she has sent a message to me and asked me to make another one. I’ve finished it and taken a picture of it. How about it?” She took out her phone and showed Xu Jiao the picture. It was indeed good; the color and style both gave people a fresh feeling. When Xu Jiao was staring at the picture of the delicate cake, she said, “It’s so good and attractive!” As a matter of fact, however, she wasn’t that happy but a little jealous. She thought: “The manager pays more attention to her and specially sends her messages. And now, her cakes are so popular after she just became a baker. In the beginning, my skills were better than her, but now, she is going to surpass me.” Thinking of this, Xu Jiao felt depressed, and she wasn’t in the mood to joke and laugh with A’nan. This matter made their relationships undergo a subtle change. Except for work time, Xu Jiao didn’t open her heart to A’nan any longer and they only exchanged greetings with embarrassment. Xu Jiao felt sad about this situation, but she didn’t know how to face A’nan, so she lived in agony.

After several days, A’nan told Xu Jiao, “Our manager has asked, you and me, each of us to make a creative cake recently, and she will make an adjustment according to the results. My cake has almost been finished, and I’m going to buy the last ingredient. You’d better make one quickly.” On learning that their posts might be interchanged, Xu Jiao became restless, “You have nearly finished your cake, but you have just told me. Can I finish it in time? If I couldn’t do it better, the manager would demote me to my original post, and promote you. How can I face the previous colleagues then? They must look down on me and tease me. No, that cannot happen.” And then, Xu Jiao spent two days and one night in making a cake. In order not to lose out to A’nan, she made another one that night.

At the appointed time, Xu Jiao intended to turn in the cakes, but A’nan said she hadn’t finished hers yet, because she hadn’t got the last ingredient. Xu Jiao remembered that she just had that ingredient. However, she chose to be silent and thought, “If I helped her, would I lose out to her, and also lose my post?” But she felt somewhat uneasy. That night, she felt fatigue but couldn’t get to sleep, recalling scene after scene between them. She couldn’t help thinking, “How did it get to this place? In the beginning, when A’nan had some achievements, I felt happy for her, but now why am I so miserable and upset? I don’t understand why it seems to me that we have become competitors.” These questions had obsessed Xu Jiao, so she came before God and prayed, “Oh God, as a Christian, I know I should help and love my brothers and sisters. But when I think that A’nan might surpass me, I feel somewhat unequal. Oh God, now I feel very miserable. Please enlighten me and guide me to find the root of my problem. I am willing to practice according to Your words.” After praying, she saw God words, “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?” “As soon as it involves position, face, or reputation, everyone’s heart leaps in anticipation, and you always want to stand out, to be famous, to be glorified. You are unwilling to yield, always wanting to contend, although contending is embarrassing. However, you are not content not to contend. When you see someone stand out, you are jealous, feel hatred, complain, and feel it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it never me? Why is it always he who gets to stand out and it’s never my turn?’ There is some resentment. … Is not a person’s falling into these conditions a trap? This is the bondage of a satanically corrupted nature.

From God’s words, Xu Jiao understood that she lived in pain because she was driven by the corrupted disposition—her desire for status. At first when she saw A’nan’s original cakes, she was happy because it didn’t involve her self-interest, and she was still being praised; as the colleagues and the master began to praise and look up to A’nan, and A’nan was gradually promoted, she was jealous of A’nan because A’nan was about to surpass her and threatened her status; when she learned that the manager would transfer their posts according to their cakes, in order to keep her present position, to maintain her image among the colleagues, and not to be surpassed, she worked overtime to finish two cakes; in order not to make her interests threatened, even though she had that very ingredient A’nan needed, she was unwilling to help A’nan and would rather A’nan did not turn in her cake on time so that A’nan couldn’t exceed her, and her fame and status would not incur a loss. Xu Jiao also realized that her recent actions and bad relationship with A’nan were the results of her selfish nature. At that moment, Xu Jiao was full of indebtedness; meanwhile, she understood God’s will from this matter: On the one hand, God revealed her corruption so that her corrupt disposition would be changed; on the other hand, when God arranged A’nan around her, He wanted them to learn from each other, but not to compete with each other.

And then Xu Jiao saw God’s words saying, “Once you discover your own corrupt disposition, won’t you know what to do? … I should speak based on this. I should reveal myself, show my true face, and genuinely speak out the thoughts in my heart. … People often live in the corrupt satanic disposition, do not put the truth into practice, and betray the truth. They frequently live within a selfish and despicable corrupt satanic disposition, protect their own image, their own reputation, status, and interests. They have not gained the truth. So you are distressed, troubled, and bound too much.” “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. Learn to back off, but do not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who performs his duty out of the public eye, and who does not show off before others. The more you give up and set aside, the more peaceful your heart will be and the more space will open up within it.” From God’s words, Xu Jiao learned that the best way to resolve her corrupt disposition was by the law of contraries. Satan used fame and status to bind her, wanting her to vie with A’nan for the post so that it could break up their friendship, and finally make them live in its net miserably. Xu Jiao recalled that when she competed with A’nan, in order to get the higher post, she worked overtime to finish her cakes, which made her tired and drawn, and didn’t bring her any peace or joy. Now, God’s words showed her the path of practice— putting aside the desire of standing out above others, and no longer pursuing fame and status. She also needed to put down her face, and open her heart to A’nan by telling A’nan her real thoughts, so that she could betray her selfish nature, reject Satan, and overcome its schemes. After she understood all of this, Xu Jiao decided to open her heart to A’nan.

The following day, Xu Jiao found A’nan and opened her thoughts of this period to her. After this, she said, “I just have the very ingredient you need, and you can use it to finish your cake as soon as possible. I will help you to pack your cake up and send it to the manager. Hurry up!” A’nan said happily, “Thank God! This is the result of God’s work. From now on, we respectively display our strengths, and help each other.” At that time, Xu Jiao felt very released and free.

After half a month, the manager met up with them and asked each of them to give a short talk on their inspiration and design, saying she would give one of them an important post. From the manager’s words, Xu Jiao knew she attached much significance to this promotion. At that time, Xu Jiao’s heart still wavered because she knew this promotion not only could give either of them a higher position, but also could improve their skills. This was a rare chance. At that moment, Xu Jiao consciously came to God and prayed, asking God to protect her heart. She then thought of God’s words saying, “If, the more it is at a crucial moment, the more you are able to obey, and surrender your own interests and your vanity and pride, then this will be remembered by God, these are good deeds.” God’s words made Xu Jiao feel brightened in her heart. In the face of profits again, although her heart wavered and she wanted to struggle for the position and win the manager’s praise, she realized that it was a chance that God gave her to practice the truth, so she should learn to recommend others, to give others the chance, and not to struggle for her private interests. Plus, A’nan’s skill was also very good, and it was an opportunity for her to get further skills. At this thought, Xu Jiao didn’t want to fight for the position, and she was just willing to practice the truth to satisfy God. Afterward, she shared her thoughts of designing the cake, and praised A’nan’s skill before their manager. After that, the manager didn’t say who was the right person for the position, but said she would consider it. Before she left, she said to them, “No matter who will be chosen, the team needs you to cooperate with each other.” After the manager left, A’nan said to Xu Jiao, “I know you make a concession to me, and that this team needs us to cooperate.” And then there came the familiar laughter.

Through this experience, Xu Jiao understood that only God’s word can solve mankind’s corrupt disposition, and make people live in harmony. She and A’nan have been reconciled.

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