One Sunday morning, it was quite muggy. And the market was also humid and gloomy. Both the buyers and the vegetable vendors got depressed and irritable in accordance with the weather. After meeting, Xiao Fan passed through the market on her way home. Then she wanted to buy some vegetables. It happened that a butcher, pushing a pushcart with some meat and a cutting board on it, barred her way and shouted, “Ms. Xiao! A cut of meat? It is very fresh today….” Xiao Fan shook her head with a smile and said: “Not today, perhaps another time.” Then the butcher said unhappily: “Ms. Xiao, I’m a bit short of money now. You’d better think of something to pay the bill before.” Xiao Fan asked in surprise: “Pay the bill? For what? Why do I have no idea about it?” Then the butcher peculiarly said, “Ms. Xiao! You’re really forgetful! Last spring, you took half a pig from me on credit and until now you haven’t paid for it yet. How could you forget it?” After hearing this, Xiao Fan had a feeling of being at sea. She thought: I have never bought so much pork one time, not to mention in February, when there were no feasts. He must have made a mistake.
So she explained to the butcher: “No, it wasn’t me. You must have got that wrong.” When these words came out of Xiao Fan’s mouth, the butcher flung a chopper out on the cutting board. All Xiao Fan heard was a “clash.” Then the butcher yelled: “Damn it! So much pork, how could I possibly misremember? You don’t know who I am? Don’t you dare take advantage of me …” Having spoken, he immediately flung his other choppers out on the cutting board with a crash. Immediately, the market was silent. Some audacious vendors closed round to look and listen, and the cowards backed away for fear that the choppers would hurt them accidentally. Not long after, the market became noisy. Several people stood around whispering, and one of them said: “Don’t eat meat if you can’t afford. Such a deadbeat! What a shame!” Some shook their heads, saying: “It’s hard to say. Maybe it is a misunderstanding.” Hearing all sorts of tales from the people around, Xiao Fan felt very embarrassed and terrible with her face burning. Because it was the first time that she was judged in public. At this moment, she repeatedly prayed to the Lord in her heart, asking Him to quiet her heart, so that she could calm down and deal with this matter. Then her heart was quieted and she explained to the butcher: “Please calm down. There must be some misunderstanding. I’m a believer in the Lord. I couldn’t bilk you of your money. If I really did it, I’ll double your money back.” But the butcher sneered: “Humph! You even can’t pay the money you owed me, much less double it. You make it seem so easy….” Soon after, the butcher shouted many terrible things.
Xiao Fan clearly knew she should obey the Lord’s teachings and not insult him. Therefore she suppressed her inner grievances and pain to continue explaining to the butcher. At this time, Xiao Fan’s neighbor just went up to her and explained to the butcher: “There must be some misunderstanding. Though her family is not rich, she never takes unfair advantage of others—” Before she had done speaking, the butcher said to her: “Madame, I am not an unreasonable man. How can I fail to know who owes me?” Seeing the butcher was in a fit of anger, the neighbor thought if the quarrel continued, there would be no outcome. Then she grabbed Xiao Fan by the arm and said: “Let’s go. Today it’s impossible to vindicate yourself. You don’t owe him money; your heart is open and upright. Never mind what he says. As people say, ‘A good conscience is a soft pillow.’” Though it was difficult for Xiao Fan to calm her heart, she went home with the neighbor finally.
After Xiao Fan returned home, the more she thought about that, the more she felt distressed. So she wailed lying on the bed. In the state of helplessness, she thought of the Lord’s words, “But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you” (Luke 6:27). She knew the Lord taught us to love our enemies. But as long as she thought of the harsh words said by the butcher, she would have difficulty setting this thing aside and feel wronged. She called out to the Lord many times and asked Him to guide her to resolve the hatred in her heart. Even so, she was still unable to overcome the bitterness in her heart. She always thought: “I definitely don’t owe the butcher, but he persisted in saying I am a deadbeat. Is it not obvious that he was framing me? Moreover, he exposed me in front of so many people. How can I face them from now on? How will my neighbors see me?” The more she thought, the more she felt wronged, and her heart couldn’t be calmed down for a long time. She believed that her pain was brought by the butcher, and that if he had not framed her, she would not bear others’ gossip.
Thereafter, the fierce aspect of the butcher, the gossip of people, and the funny look in their eyes often flickered in her mind and afflicted her. Rarely did she go to the market, unless she had to. Even if she went there, she hastened to buy something and go home as fast as she could for fear of seeing the contemptuous eyes of people around again. She also didn’t dare to tell the matter to her bad-tempered husband, fearing that if he knew about it, he would never let this go by unsettled.
During that time, she often read. The teachings of the Lord echoed in her ears frequently, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15), and she also remembered those words “Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). Thus, Xiao Fan tried hard to practice according to the Lord’s words and prayed more often. She believed time could tame the grudge against the butcher gradually. However, the fact was not the same as what she had thought. Whenever thinking of this matter, she felt breathless, as if there was a stone lying on her heart. She often thought: Why can’t I put the Lord’s word into practice? How could forgiving enemies be so hard? So many times had Xiao Fan come before the Lord, crying bitterly and telling Him about the pain she was suffering, yet after the , she still felt distressed and helpless for the haunting hatred and trouble. For this reason, Xiao Fan often lost her appetite and couldn’t fall asleep. She was wasting away with extreme distress, oppression and helplessness. After several months, she fell ill completely.
One day, Co-worker Li whom Xiao Fan hadn’t seen for a long time came to see her. Xiao Fan poured out her sufferings to Sister Li that she couldn’t put the Lord’s word into practice and still harbored a grudge against the butcher. After hearing that, Sister Li smiled and said, “Xiao Fan, we felt pain for we can’t put the Lord’s word into action and still hate others and live in sin. The only way is to find the source of hatred. Let me read a passage of words for you.” Then she read: “Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, his original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal, and his rebelliousness toward God is ever more frequent and grievous. Yet man still neither knows nor recognizes this, and merely blindly opposes and rebels” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God”).
Sister Li fellowshiped: “Xiao Fan, in fact, the reason why we live in hatred and feel much pain now is because we have been corrupted by Satan and live by its poison of ‘As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,’ such that we can’t put the Lord’s word into practice to have patience and forgiveness for others, but live in the middle of Satan’s trickery, being surrounded by hatred and without means to free ourselves. Just think about it. If this matter were just a slight misunderstanding between you and the butcher, and he hadn’t misunderstood you or exposed you in front of so many people, instead he spoke to you kindly and didn’t make you lose face, you might also have some thoughts about him and feel sad, but you wouldn’t hate him as you do now.
Actually, since we care too much about our face, when our maintaining dignity and saving face conflict with following the Lord’s teachings, it is not easy for us to choose the truth and stand on the side of God. Thereby we would put witnessing the Lord and glorifying the Lord’s name aside. From this we can see, in our hearts our saving face is greater than following the Lord’s path. We all know God is the Lord of everything. The people, events, and things that we encounter on a daily basis are God’s rule. God allowed us to encounter this matter. He wants to see whether we can practice His words in our real life, and cherish His words. Therefore we should accept it from Him. Furthermore, we also know God is righteous and He inspects people’s hearts. He knows you don’t owe him money. When we live in the presence of God, our consciences will be at peace and we’ll live at ease and carefree. When someone misunderstands, judges us and even scoffs at us, we may also feel terrible. But because of living in the presence of God, we can put it aside easily. It is not important that how people see us. Whether someone thinks highly of us or looks down on us, it can determine nothing. But if we practice, we will receive His approval. The peace and ease in our heart are the most precious, which nothing could be exchanged for. Now we are living for vanity, caring about other people’s view of us, so we can’t let go of the hatred of others. How much pain we live in!
Likewise, when the butcher encountered such matter, he changed his previously smiling face and said many hurtful things to you for his own personal benefit. It is all because Satan harms man. We are all afflicted and fooled by Satan, living in complaint and hatred, so that we’re unable to get along with people normally and practice the Lord’s word. Xiao Fan, if we want to practice God’s word and forgive others, we must really and truly suffer hardships, forsake our own satanic nature, and accept all things from God. In this way, we can live freely and unrestrained in God’s presence.”
After hearing that, Xiao Fan said: “Sister Li, now I’m clear on this. The reason why I resent him and can’t let go of the hatred is because he abused me in front of the street of people so that I lost all face. Dominated by my satanic nature, I just care about my own face, so I can’t treat others with tolerance and patience.” Then Sister Li nodded with a smile and said: “That’s right. It is the most important for us to obey God and live out God’s word in believing in God. Let me read another passage for you.” Then Sister Li read: “God’s work cannot be wrong, and is all in order to save people from darkness. When you have believed to a certain point and can divest yourself of the corruption of the flesh, and are no longer enshackled by this corruption, will you not have been saved? When you live under Satan’s domain you are incapable of manifesting God, you are something filthy, and shall not receive God’s inheritance. Once you have been cleansed and made perfect, you will be holy, and you will be normal, and you will be blessed by God and delightful to God” (“Practice (2)”). After listening to these words and Sister Li’s fellowship, Xiao Fan set down her will in front of God: I am willing to bear witness for You in this matter, and will no longer protect my own face and status. No matter how people see me, I will follow Your teachings to satisfy You. If the butcher still insists that I owe him money, I will accept it from You and give him the money. Later on, when Xiao Fan went to the market, she prayed to God and asked Him to look within her heart. Regardless of what the vendors in the market would talk about her, she was willing to deal with it calmly. However, when she met the butcher again, he didn’t say anything.
A year later, at the same place where Xiao Fan once had a quarrel with the butcher, the butcher smiled and called: “Ms. Xiao!” Xiao Fan couldn’t believe that he was calling her. After looking around and then looking at the butcher, she dared not answer. Before Xiao Fan could react, she heard the butcher saying to her: “Ms. Xiao! I’m sorry! Last time, my memory played me false on the pork money. The other day, Zhang Ming came back from other places and paid me back. Ms. Xiao, please forgive me. I am an ignoramus….” He looked a little compunctious as he spoke. After hearing him speak, Xiao Fan was astonished. She never thought that God would really help her clear up the fact. She was very happy, and kept thanking God. Then she smiled and said to the butcher: “Thank God! Now the whole truth about this matter comes out. You feel steady, and so do I.” The butcher nodded his head repeatedly and said: “Thank God! Thank God! Believers in God are really nice.” After hearing this, Xiao Fan smiled and pointed at the pork, saying happily: “Here, cut off two catties of pork for me.” Then the butcher cut it off rapidly, put it in a grocery bag, and gave it to her, saying: “It’s free! Just take it home.” As soon as Xiao Fan heard that, she turned and began to leave. Seeing this, the butcher finally weighed the meat. And Xiao Fan then paid him and left delightedly.
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