By Li Kao, Italy
In September 2016, I came overseas. Because of the language barrier, it’s hard for me to find a house and a job. Several months later, I found a house but still did not find a job. Seeing my money was almost gone, and thinking of the rent and living expenses I had to pay every month, I became more anxious. Fortunately, God prepared a job for me. After a while, I finally found a job making clothes in a factory.
In the blink of an eye, over a month passed. However, I did not get paid, so I started to become anxious. Thinking I needed to live on my wages, I asked my fellow workers when we were paid. They said, “Our boss is a little stingy. New employees aren’t paid until they have worked for two months.” After hearing this, I had no choice but to wait. At length two months passed, yet I still did not get paid. I was so anxious that one day I went to my boss. That day, my boss finally paid me my first month’s wages by the piece. It was 930 euros in total.
The next day, I carefully checked my pay slip against my own record twice, and unexpectedly found that my boss paid me an excess of 100 euros over the amount of my wages. Then my heart was at war with itself. I thought: 100 euros is worth about 780 RMB at the current exchange rate. It is a half-month’s salary of an ordinary worker in China, and also my monthly living expenses. I turned over this in my mind: It’s a waste for me not to keep the easy money. In addition, my boss is usually so stingy. Not only does he force down wages for much work but also he usually does not pay me wages for reworking some clothes. So I’ll not tell him about the money. But then I thought: Is it appropriate for me as a Christian to take the 100 euros of my boss for myself?
Thinking over this matter, I remembered a passage from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, “For example, you find a few yuan when walking. Then your mind will struggle, ‘I find the money. What should I do? Should I hand it in?’ At this time, Satan’s philosophy in you will come out, ‘Every man for himself, and the devil takes the hindmost.’ And then you’ll think, ‘Why should I hand it in? I’ll just not tell anyone. I’ll keep it for myself.’”
Reflecting on this passage of fellowship, I realized that it was because of being guided by my greedy nature that I intended to keep the 100 euros for myself. When I found my boss paid me the excess of money, I did not want to return it to him, and thought this to be natural because my boss was stingy with us employees. I had such manifestation, didn’t I live by Satan’s philosophy of “Every man for himself, and the devil takes the hindmost,” as is revealed in the passage of fellowship? For 100 euros I would lose my integrity and dignity. At that time, I knew: I should turn my back on my selfishness and desire and not take unfair advantage. I should live out the likeness of a Christian.
However, in the evening, I was tossing and turning restlessly in bed, again struggling and wavering over whether to return the 100 euros to my boss. Afterward, I prayed to God about this matter.
After praying, I thought of God’s words, “Everything that happens to people is when God needs them to stand firm in their testimony 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.” “Honesty means to give your heart to God; never to play Him false in anything; to be open with Him in all things, never hiding the truth; never to do that which deceives those above and deludes those below; and never to do that which merely ingratiates yourself with God. In short, to be honest is to refrain from impurity in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man.”
Reading these words of God, I understood: God wills me to be an honest person, not to resort to deceit in anything, to speak and act according to His requirements, and to bear witness to Him in everything great or small every day. Thus, that such a thing happens to me is God’s test to me. Though it isn’t a major thing, when such a small thing happens to me, it’s God testing whether or not I can stand firm in my testimony to Him. As a Christian, if I take the money for myself that does not belong to me, it doesn’t conform to the will of God; though the 100 euros can reduce the press of my life if I take it, I’ll lose witness in the presence of God and the likeness of a Christian.
Thinking of this, I came before God again and prayed to Him, “O God! In the matter, I can’t follow my greedy satanic nature. I’m willing to turn my back on my selfish desire and practice the truth in order to satisfy You. Amen!”
Two days later, my boss came to the factory. I told him the matter and gave him my pay slip. After checking it, he realized that he indeed calculated wrong my wages and then he said the excess would be deducted from my next month’s wages. After I put this into practice, I felt especially at ease.
Soon, another month passed. My boss’s wife paid me my second month’s wages. However, after getting back home and checking it, I found that she paid me an excess of a few euros. My heart was again at war with itself: This time she paid me an excess of only a few euros. Should I tell it to her? Well, maybe I should just let it go. It’s only a few euros, so it’s no big deal not to tell it to her. But then I thought: Though a few euros is worth little, since it’s not earned by my labor, I shouldn’t keep it. The next day, during dinner I told the matter to my boss’s wife and returned it to her, but she refused it. Then I said to her, “You know I’m a Christian. I can’t take others’ money for myself.” No matter what I said, she still refused it. Eventually, I gave it to her child. After I put this into practice, I felt very steady and at peace.
After the two incidents, my boss and his wife were very kind to me. Almost every time they determined the piece rate, they would ask for my advice; moreover, they patiently taught me how to do demanding handwork that I could not; especially when they were not in the factory for something, they would trust me with everything in the factory. Once, because of my carelessness, I sewed buttons on the wrong side of several clothes. Owing to the special clothing material, once this accident happened, the clothes will be destroyed. Besides, those clothes were urgently needed. Knowing I had made mistakes, I was very afraid that my boss’s wife would be angry or dock my wage. Contrary to my expectation, she not only was not angry with me, but instead consoled me, “It doesn’t matter. We all make mistakes. Come here. Help me watch my child. I’ll make the several clothes again as soon as possible. Otherwise, it’ll be late.” A few hours later, she finished them. And she did not dock my wage.
Seeing my boss and his wife’s kindness to and care for me, my fellow workers envied me in their hearts. I knew that I just practiced the truth to satisfy God according to His words and then received such good treatment, and that it was all because God’s words had changed me. Otherwise, according to my selfish and greedy nature, how could I obtain my boss’s favor and win his trust? Thank God for using His words to guide me. The experience allows me to see that God loves and blesses those honest people who are willing to practice the truth in order to satisfy God. Thank God! All the glory be to Almighty God!