By Zheng Xin
After Spring Festival, I found a job of sewing buttons and packaging in a small privately-owned clothing factory. In order not to miss meetings, I told the boss that I was to do piece work on a flexible schedule and get paid according to the amount of work I did. And my boss agreed.
Over a month later, the factory was snowed under with work, so my boss hired another female worker to do buttonholing. She was several years my junior, and I called her Xiaowang. We worked together upstairs. She was fast and skillful at her work. Later, when my boss found it was hard for me to undertake two kinds of work alone, he talked to me about whether I could give some to Xiaowang, letting her sew buttons after she finished her tasks. I agreed. In this way, if there were some more tasks than I could finish every day, I would give some to Xiaowang. We worked and chatted, feeling that each day was pleasant.
Over time, however, I found Xiaowang started to compete with me for more tasks. In the past, when she finished making buttonholes, she would put the clothes with buttonholes on my work-table for me to sew buttons. If I couldn’t get them done alone, I would give some to her. But recently, she began to sew buttons directly after making buttonholes. She even didn’t ask whether I need her to help me. And what’s more, in the days that followed she only focused on working, talking little with me. Because we were paid by the piece, the tasks that she completed would be accumulated into her account. I felt a bit sore in my heart, thinking, “What’s your problem? It’s settled that I give you some on condition that I can’t complete them alone. Now, you compete with me. How come you don’t follow the rules? If you go on like this, I must reason with you.” But then, I thought, “If any of my words aren’t tactless, we might get into a quarrel with each other. That’s not good. I am a believer in God. If I do so, isn’t that dishonoring God? Forget it! I should live out the saintly propriety. I can’t quarrel with her only for a little profit.” So, I buried these thoughts in my heart.
Some days later, she didn’t show any restraint because of my forbearance but she continued to compete with me for the tasks. Sometimes when I sneaked a look at her, I saw her working faster and faster. Reluctant to show weakness, I also started to work in a fast way, busying myself needling, sewing, and cutting. After a long time of work, my neck muscle ached, but I didn’t want to raise my head to have a rest for fear that I wasted time and lost more tasks. Moreover, I was not convinced: I have worked here longer than you, but I don’t believe my skill is inferior to yours. Gradually, we became distant from each other. Although we didn’t have any quarrel outwardly, we were fighting in the heart. It simply seemed like we were bitter enemies. Though working together, we were like strangers.
Afterward, when Xiaowang saw me sew buttons faster and faster, she resolutely kept all the clothes with well-made buttonholes for herself and didn’t give them to me. As soon as she finished making buttonholes, she hastened to sew buttons. I couldn’t bear what she did. So the more I thought about it, the angrier I got, thinking, “Do you think you can easily bully me? I have been tolerating you, but you just go too far! Sewing buttons is my work. It’s quite good enough that I gave you some. Not only do you not thank me, but you compete for them and devour my share. Are you not bullying me?” At this moment, my anger overwhelmed my weak wish of living out the saintly propriety. After work, when she left, I went to my boss with anger and complained, “How should Xiaowang be that way? Sewing buttons is originally my duty. Yet now, she not only competes with me, but she does it all alone. She is too unreasonable. If this continues, I won’t work here any longer. I can’t stand the sight of her. Maybe I shouldn’t come tomorrow. Maybe I should let her do all the work.” Hearing my complaint, my boss said immediately, “Xiaozheng, don’t be that way. Now is the peak season for our factory. Many orders need to be fulfilled. We need hands badly. Don’t leave. As long as you can stay, I can stop using her a few days later and at the end of this month after I pay her wage, I will ask her to pack up and quit.” At my boss’ words, I was secretly delighted, feeling that my boss’ words finally helped me vent my anger. Never in my life have I been bullied like this. Humph! How dare you compete with me? As long as our boss fires you, you won’t earn a cent here.
I had a sense of victory over her, feeling self-satisfied. Then I went home humming a little tune. After supper, I turned on my MP5 player and listened to a passage in a fellowship from the above, “When it comes to interests, there must be wars, quarrels, and conflicts among men. Why do people fight with each other? For the sake of interests. Politicians fight because they want to take power; civilians fight because of their benefit. In a word, people without the truth are very likely to fight against others, and they tend to wage campaigns. This is undoubtable and many facts have all confirmed this point. Tell me, what do two people usually fight for? They fight for their personal interests.” Then I saws say, “In God’s eyes, people are like the animals in the animal world. They fight with each other, slaughter each other, and have extraordinary interactions with each other. In God’s eyes, they are also like apes, scheming against one another regardless of age or gender. As such, all that the whole of mankind does and manifests has never been after God’s heart.” Comparing myself to God’s words and the sermons from the above, I felt ashamed and humiliated. I am the target of God’s words: Over this period of time, I always fought both openly and in secret with Xiaowang; is it not because of interests? She wanted to work more to make more money, which means I had to work less and thus earned less, so I couldn’t tolerate her. I am exactly like the animal revealed in God’s words. For the sake of my own small interests, I fought against her all day. Although I didn’t quarrel with her, all that I expressed in my heart was corrupt satanic disposition. On this matter, I didn’t come in time before God and seek the truth to resolve my corruption, but instead I made complaints before my boss and spoke ill of her behind her back. When my boss stood on my side and intended to fire her, I felt both happy and satisfied. I realize my nature is too malicious, and that just like the jungle animals in the animal world, I have no humanity at all, intriguing and vying against others. Does my living out match the likeness that a Christian should have in the least?
Then I read God’s words, which said, “In the past, when the words of God have not become people’s lives, it was Satan’s nature that took charge and dominated within them. What specific things were within that nature? For example, why are you selfish? … They will answer: ‘Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ This one phrase expresses the root of the problem: The logic of Satan has become people’s lives, and no matter what they do, whether it’s for some purpose or other, they are only doing it for themselves. People all think that ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ that this is just the way it is, so everyone should live only for themselves. … this statement of Satan’s is precisely its poison, and when internalized by man it becomes man’s nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through this statement; it completely represents it. This poison becomes man’s life and becomes the foundation of his existence; corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this for thousands of years.” God’s words cut to the point and reveal my nature. They allow me to realize that the reason why I always defend my own interests when meeting things is because of my selfish nature. The satanic poison, “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” has become my life and the foundation of my existence. This poison misleads me to believe that man should live for himself and that scrambling for what belongs to myself is proper. But from God’s words, I came to know that my thought of this kind is directed by my satanic poison. It can cause me to fight with others once my interests are harmed. As a result, I can’t live out the likeness of a real man in association with others. At this point, I understood: Although it appeared to be a bad thing that I competed with Xiaowang for tasks, it is through such an environment and person that God wants me to know my own corruption, and then to add the truth of normal humanity to me. So that I can rely on His words to live, and cast away my corrupt satanic disposition. Through this, I can learn to give up my own interests, and get along well with others, no longer fighting against others for my personal interests.
So, from that day on, I started to forsake myself consciously. Every day before I went to work, Ied to God, asking Him to keep my heart so that my action could satisfy Him. When I reached the factory, if there were tasks to be done, I would do them; if not, I would go home early. Because of the leading of God’s words, I was not that sulky and annoyed.
A few days later, my boss found that I went home early every day. He knew it was because I didn’t want to compete with Xiaowang. He could hardly stand what she was doing. So after he finished preparing clothes downstairs, he first carried them to me, and winked at me to show that I could sew buttons first and then deliver them to Xiaowang to make buttonholes. That way, Xiaowang would have no means to compete with me. When I received the clothes, I was very happy. As I sewed buttons, I thought, “It’s our boss that gives these clothes to me first; it’s not me asking him to do so. Wait and do your tasks after me. This time I can do more tasks so I can make more money. Last month, I only earned about fifteen hundred yuan while you earned over two thousand yuan. My salary is the lowest in the factory. Is this not because you compete for more tasks? Now, our boss gives the clothes to me first, and you can no longer compete with me.” So I exerted all my strength and accelerated my speed of work. In a short while, I finished several clothes. But after I came back from the washroom, I found the buttons I sewed on the clothes looked very strange. I took them up and checked them out, “Oh, no! I was only too excited to sew buttons on the other side left for buttonholes.” Because of my mistake, all my work just now was in vain. So I had to remove those buttons one by one from the clothes and what’s more, I didn’t dare to make Xiaowang know it for fear that she would laugh at me.
Just at that time, I suddenly realized what I did was still not in accordance with. Although these clothes were given to me by our boss, wasn’t I still competing with Xiaowang in the heart? Was the revelation from my thoughts still not the selfish nature of Satan? Then I thought of God’s words, “Everything that happens to people is when God needs them to stand firm in their to Him. Nothing major has happened to you at the moment, and you do not bear great testimony, but every detail of your daily life relates to the testimony to God. If you can win the admiration of your brothers and sisters, your family members, and everyone around you; if, one day, the unbelievers come, and admire all that you do, and see that all that God does is wonderful, then you will have borne testimony.” Pondering these words of God, I understood God’s will. Now is exactly the time when I need to stand testimony for God. Perhaps it’s not a big thing to bicker with colleagues during working time, and doing that may be very common among the crowd. I would also think that Xiaowang was the first to blame. However, it is because I am corrupted by Satan and I have no truth that, when encountering things, I rely on my selfish nature to live, without giving up my own interests. This is why I had an abnormal relationship with Xiaowang and kept competing with her in the heart. I saw that I am so deeply corrupted by Satan. Although I wanted to forsake my own interests and get along with her, yet what I expressed before interests was corruption all the same. I found it hard to change this corruption with my power. Thus, I prayed to God in my heart, “ ! Please lead me. I’m not willing to rely on my selfish nature to live any longer, nor do I want to fight with others for my own interests. I’m willing to practice the truth and bear testimony for You. Please give me faith and strength so that I can betray my flesh, break away from the corruption and restraint of Satan, and honor and testify to You with my practical living out.” After praying, my heart grew calm a lot. I saw Xiaowang was not happy, either, because she couldn’t compete for more tasks. She went home early that day.
After work, when I was about to leave, I said to my boss, “From now on, you can first give these tasks to Xiaowang. If she is too busy to complete them alone, I can share some. I don’t want to compete with her. Now that we work together in the same workshop, we should get along with each other. It is nothing for me to make more or less money. It is chance that we can work together. What’s more, if we fight here just for getting more tasks, you, your wife and all the workers will be fed up with our bad behavior. The best way is that we finish the tasks in harmony. I can’t harm all the harmonious relationship because of the conflict between us.” Hearing my words, my boss couldn’t believe his ears and asked me with doubt, “Hey, what makes your thought different from others? Who doesn’t want to earn more money here? How come you give up yours voluntarily? Besides, you have already been the one who earns the least in this factory.” I said smilingly, “It’s nothing. I don’t care how much money I can make. If I make less, then I spend less.” My boss smiled and said, “There are few people like you these years.” I thought, “If it were not for my belief in God, I couldn’t possibly give up my interests actively. That I can do this today is the result achieved by God’s words.” Since then, never did I compete with Xiaowang. Every time I saw there were buttons to be sewed on a few bags of clothes, I left them to Xiaowang and went home. Over time, Xiaowang also felt a little guilty. She hadn’t conversed with me for a long time. One morning, I had just arrived at the factory when she took the initiative to greet me, “Good morning, Sister Zheng.” I was very happy to see that she could speak to me actively. I knew it was because I practiced God’s words that our conflict was resolved and Satan was put to shame. From then on we could get along again.
Several months later, these tasks were finished. After paying our wages, my boss insisted on inviting us workers to have a meal in a restaurant. That day, Xiaowang left early because she had some other things to attend to. During the meal, my boss raised his wine glass and said to all workers, “Today, I’ll drink to Xiaozheng. She can maintain our union in our factory. That’s not easy. She is really a good person.” Hearing what my boss said, I gave glory to God in my heart. Because I am not a good person by nature but the same as all those who intrigue or scramble against each other for personal interests. If it were not for God’s words that guided me time and again, I couldn’t get free from my corrupt satanic disposition. Now I can live out some likeness of man. I thank God for His salvation to me from my heart. All the glory be to God!