By Xiao Li, Japan
In real life, we are always vexed at such things. For example, you say a few careless words to someone, but unexpectedly she replies in a cold manner. It turns out that she has misinterpreted your remarks. Then you hurry to explain, but it doesn’t help the matter. Another example, a friend suddenly treats you coldly. When you have no idea what happened, another friend tells you what you said the other day has caused her to think that you were ridiculing her. Hearing this, you will cry out, “She does me an injustice! I didn’t mean that at all. How could she misinterpret it like that? How narrow-minded she is!” At this time, you must be gloomy, sorry, and helpless about it.
The speakers and listeners may feel furious and upset, while the lookers-on will calmly conclude, “The speaker may not mean it, but the listener takes it to heart.” Why does the hearer brood over the words the speaker said casually? Why do we always secretly ponder on a few words someone said, guess at his intention, and make things difficult for him? In fact, I was one of the sensitive hearers in the past. A few ordinary words of someone would be processed by me: What does she mean by these words? Is she looking down on me? Is she ridiculing me? For example, a colleague said to me, “You look different with your dress today!” Then, I would consider: What do you mean? Could it be that I look bad in the dress? Are you exactly complimenting me or making fun of me? Another example, once, I had a chat with my colleagues about travel. I said, “There is nothing interesting in Hakone but many hot springs.” Then a colleague asked me in surprise, “You also have been to Hakone. Did you travel there or reside there?” At these words, I felt very upset: Is she looking down on me, thinking that I can’t afford a trip? So I disgruntledly replied, “A trip. Why are you making such a big fuss over it?” In a twinkling, the atmosphere changed into tension. Just like this, I was always influenced by someone’s words into a bad mood and sometimes into a fit of the sulks. Also, I always worried about personal gains and losses and was not released. And my interpersonal relationships were affected, too. I didn’t want to be like this. But I always failed to control my thoughts as soon as I encountered a matter. For this, I was troubled.
Until one day I saw a passage of God’s words, “I very much appreciate those who harbor no suspicion about others and I also very much like those who readily accept the truth; to these two kinds of men I show great care, for in My eyes they are honest men. If you are very deceitful, then you will have a guarded heart and thoughts of suspicion regarding all matters and all men.”
I began to reflect on myself to see whether I was the deceitful person of which God speaks. When I heard some ordinary words, I would process them into another meaning; when someone straightforwardly expressed the words in his heart, I would always analyze and surmise whether there were any other meanings in his words and whether he was belittling or making fun of me. I always used small-minded ideas to assess their betters, so I had the sulks, felt sad. And even I had prejudices, envy and hatred against others. Thinking of these behaviors, I realized that I had been living by Satan’s poisons of, “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face.” I always cared about what others thought of me. As long as I heard some things that caused me to lose face, I would be suspicious of the speaker, and even give him attitude. As a result, those around me were harmed by me. Meanwhile, I myself also suffered terribly and was unable to confide in anyone. Was it not exactly caused by my focusing on face too much and my deceitful nature? It was then that I realized: When getting along with others, we always hold biases against them and become estranged from them due to an ordinary sentence, thinking there are hidden meanings in their words and that it is they who make us embarrassed, and some friends even turn to never be in contact with each other. This is all because we pay too much attention to our face and are prone to suspicion of others. I finally found the root of the problem of “A careless word may reveal much to an attentive listener.”
I pondered over God’s words, “I very much appreciate those who harbor no suspicion about others and I also very much like those who readily accept the truth; to these two kinds of men I show great care, for in My eyes they are honest men.” Then I also thought of the words the Lordtaught us, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). From these words, I saw the importance of being an honest person. God is faithful, so God loves us being honest people. Only an honest person has a true human likeness. An honest person is as guileless as a child, calls a spade a spade, and is genuine and sincere. Moreover, he neither lives for the sake of face or vanity, nor doubts others and speculates about them at will. He gets along with those around him easily, and is popular among them. When various matters of daily living come upon us, it is when God tests us to see whether we can obey His words. Then I secretly resolved in my heart: I’m willing to put into practice being an honest person according to the requirements of God’s words.
One day, at lunch-time, my colleague looked at the dish (stir-fried carrots with bean sprouts) in my bento and said to me, “Are carrots selling low now?” Hearing her words, I thought a lot: What does she mean by these words? Does she think that I am poor and can’t afford expensive vegetables for I usually improvise meals? Is she laughing at me? I was a little angry. However, When I changed my mind and thought of God’s words, I realized that I was revealing my deceitful disposition for the sake of my face. She just casually asked me whether carrots were selling low. Yes is yes, and it is all right that I reply her honestly. Why do I conjecture her? I was released in that thought and answered gently, “Yes!” Then my colleague continued pleasantly, “It’s cold this winter. Most vegetables are selling high, but carrots can resist the cold …”
Afterward, I pondered over the change of my thoughts a few minutes ago. My heart was full of gratitude toward God: O God, had it not been for your guidance, I would have lived by my deceitful disposition to misunderstand my colleague’s words in order to save my face. If so, not only would I have been sad and not released, but it would have caused hurt for her. At the thought of this, in my heart I had a bit of sweet feeling. Under God’s guidance, I am released and free, and am no longer suspicious of others’ intentions and motives behind their words.
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