He that despises his neighbor sins: but he that has mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Proverbs 14:21).
To get along with others, apart from being tolerant and patient, what’s even more important is to understand: “And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is because we are all sinners without the distinction of high and low. To live out the image of the Lord is the common objective of our pursuit.
In the Past, I Was Such a Person
My next-door neighbor raised over 10,000 quails in his yard. Every time he sold the quails’ droppings, he could earn over 1000 yuan. His yard was somewhat narrow while there were many quails’ droppings. In order not to lose money, he came to my home to borrow my land. He said that he would only occupy the place as wide as a floorslab behind my house, so I granted his request.
My husband and I went to other place to work for a while. When we came back, I was dumbfounded: My neighbor actually not only occupied the place as wide as two floorslabs but also built a small alleyway by bricks in the lane we shared together, covering the roof with fibrotiles and fixing a door, with the aim of stacking straws. Seeing all of these, I was really disturbed in my heart, feeling injured and resentful. Furthermore, I was dying to demolish the small alleyway at once and then argue with him. When I nearly lost my sense, God enlightened me: You are a believer in God. You should first quiet yourself to pray.
However, not long after, my neighbor thought of another road to prosperity: He didn’t grow rice but engaged in sideline production (planting pear trees) in the fields. After a period of time, when I went into the fields, I was immediately dumbfounded again: My neighbor had dug a deep ditch, lying close to my field, which was like the tunnel dug by guerrilla forces. The ditch being so deep, if it rained heavily, my field would collapse. I really felt bad within my heart. But, thinking that I was a believer in God and that I should love my neighbor as myself even if he was my enemy, I endured it. Yet, the thing didn’t end at that.
My neighbor was going to cement piles into the ground of his pear orchard. And he again came to my home, telling us his intention to drive cement piles along the ridges in our field. On hearing that, I sort of couldn’t submit to this environment, and replied: “If the cement piles are driven along the ridges, it will make the field impassible. And how can I go to spray pesticide?” But he smiled and said: “Will you not have a road if you vacate a twelve-inch-wide place alongside the ridges?” Hearing what he said, I was angry and resigned, thinking: You are too crafty. If I do that, won’t my field area be reduced? And it means that I will lose over one hundred catties of grain every year. Thinking this way, I just couldn’t accede to his request. And since I didn’t agree, he couldn’t do it forcibly.
However, after that, I was so agitated and felt tortured inside. I thought to myself: The son of my neighbor has leukemia. My neighbor has spent all his savings treating his son and moreover he also runs into the external debts of several hundreds of thousands of yuan. It is understandable that he only thinks of earning money but doesn’t take my interests into consideration. But if I agree to his request, will he become insatiable later because of thinking that we are easy to be taken advantage of? How, exactly, should I practice?
Under the Guidance of God’s Love, I Was Changing
God’s words say: “Cruel, brutal mankind! The conniving and intrigue, the jostling with each other, the scramble for reputation and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end?”
God is forever supreme and ever honorable, while man is forever base, forever worthless. This is because God is forever making sacrifices and devoting Himself to mankind; man, however, forever takes and strives only for himself. … for the effort of man is always for his own sake and not for others. Man is always selfish, while God is forever selfless. God is the source of all that is just, good, and beautiful, while man is he who succeeds to and makes manifest all ugliness and evil.” Because I lost some personal interests, I hated my neighbor and even wanted to demolish the small alleyway built by him. Reflecting upon myself, I was bridled by Satan’s poisons “Fight for every inch of territory and wrest every ounce of gain,” and “Nice guys finish last,” which made me lose my conscience and reason. Suddenly, I remembered my father-in-law who had passed away. He was once at loggerheads with his neighbor for some of his personal interests suffered; their relations became strained to a certain extent, and in the end my father-in-law didn’t even say one word to his neighbor straight up to his death. In fact, I could see it was very painful for my father-in-law. Didn’t I almost walk the path of my father-in-law today? When encountering things, I just wanted to protect my own interests and treated others depending on my hot blood. These are not displays of normal humanity. God’s essence is beautiful and good. In order to save us, God became flesh and was subjected to great suffering, and He finally redeemed us through being nailed to the cross. God is always devoting Himself to us mankind selflessly. God’s love is so great and so real. I thought: As a follower of God, I should manifest God and glorify Him; I should understand and accept His love but not force myself to be tolerant and patient, for only when I know God’s love, can I truly put the love of others into practice.
I read another passage of God’s words: “When you rebel against the flesh, there will inevitably be a battle within you. Satan will try and make you follow it, will try and make you follow the conceptions of the flesh and uphold the interests of the flesh—but God’s words will enlighten and illuminate you within, and at this time it is up to you whether you follow God or follow Satan.” This time, I didn’t want to live by Satan’s poisons to make a fuss and contend with others. Instead, I wanted to practice according to God’s words, learning to let go of this thing, putting a little more understandings, consideration and love into my interactions with my neighbor; in this way, I could get along with my neighbor harmoniously. If I still lived by my selfish nature in real life, just protected my own interests but didn’t practice according to God’s words when facing things, then I was still a person who only spoke doctrines but was incapable of living out the truth. Living by Satan’s poisons, I had no normal humanity and no change in my disposition, and lived in suffering. This time, I was resolved to reject Satan and practice God’s words to satisfy Him, no longer being a person who only talked about doctrines but didn’t practice truth.
Thanks to God’s Love, We Today Live in Harmony
Having thoroughly put down the hatred for my neighbor, I readily agreed to his request that he drive cement piles along the ridges and I promised that we would vacate a twelve-inch-wide place to be the road. Seeing I granted his request, my neighbor grinned from ear to ear. I was also very gratified to see his happy smile.
Once, there was a break in the circuit in my house. After knowing that, my neighbor came to my home and helped me find the cause of that. But because he didn’t know the electricity very well, he helped me call an electrician. After checking, the electrician found that the reason was that our electric shock protection didn’t work and needed to be replaced. Hearing that I was to buy a new one, my neighbor hurriedly said: “Don’t buy it first. I may have one at my home. Just let me go to get it.” Afterward, my neighbor came and gave his electric shock protection to me. When I was to pay for it, yet he said: “You have helped me a lot. What is this small thing I did for you?”
He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).