By Gengxin, China
Once, to earn a greater profit, I cut corners and used inferior cotton filling to deceive my customers. But as I searched for meaning, I came to realize that the value of our lives isn’t about how much wealth we accrue, but instead is about how to be a good person.
At the Start, Doing Business With Integrity
“Hey, you’re still not finished? It looks like business is very good for you. When are you going to buy a car?” said my coworker Deng Qiang with a smile as he walked in.
“I won’t lie to you. There are a lot of customers, but profit margins in this business are small. From the money we’ve earned today, we won’t have much after we account for expenses. I see you’ve started driving a small sedan, so I’d like some advice from you.”
“Profits are small? That couldn’t be! How much do you charge?” Deng Qiang asked, puzzled.
“We charge according to the quality of the cotton.”
“You could work yourself to death and not make any money by doing business as honestly as you do. I’ll teach you a secret: Make cotton filling of half-good and half-bad quality cotton. That way, you’ll be able to sell bad cotton at good cotton’s price, and you’ll earn more. Also, if you sell cotton filling for 1 quilt, weigh out half a quarter kilo less of cotton. You’ll also be able to earn more that way, too.” Trick by trick, Deng Qiang taught me all of his business secrets.
After Deng Qiang finished, I was shocked. I said, “So that’s how you make so much money! Don’t you ever have a guilty conscience about not keeping your word?”
“You want your conscience and your word, but those aren’t worth money at all.” said Deng Qiang as he shook his head and walked out.
After he left, I did some rough calculation in my head. If I ran my business according to his methods, I could make at least 20–30 more yuan per bed, and on the processing of cotton for 10 quilts I could make more than an extra 200 yuan. By those calculations, I could certainly make a lot more. But my conscience still felt uneasy: If I mixed good cotton and bad cotton to make my filling, what would happen if a customer found out? How would I do business if my reputation was ruined? After discussing it with my husband, we decided it was better not to earn dishonest money.
Starting to Earn Dishonest Money to Pay Back a Debt
Later, the store we rented was taken back by our landlord, and we were left with no option but to borrow money to buy a store, and after that, we bought a machine to make cotton filling, leaving us with a great deal of debt. We wanted to make money quickly to pay back the debt.
“Why don’t we try Deng Qiang’s methods?” said my husband.
“But…won’t we have guilty consciences?” I said. I still had some concerns.
“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, never mind buying a car, there’s no saying when we’ll be able to pay back all the debts we go,” said my husband anxiously.
My husband’s words left me hesitant. I thought of how I had done honestly. I never made much money each year, while others did business using deceptive methods and earned much more money than me, and had bought cars. The gap was so huge…. The more I thought, the more I felt I was losing out by doing business honestly.
“Ma’am, I’d like to order filling for 10 quilts. If it sells well, I hope to do much more business with you in the future.” And then, several more clients came to place orders. Looking at all the orders before me, I realized that if I used Deng Qiang’s methods, I could make 200 extra for every 10 quilts, and after several orders like that, I could earn so much more. We urgently needed to earn money to repay our debt, so after thinking about it, I decided to try Deng Qiang’s ideas.
I mixed half good-quality cotton and half bad-quality cotton, and as I was making it, I was so nervous my forehead was sweating. I felt the finished filling with my hand, it felt hard, and it had bad heat retention. The buyers would lose out on the deal, and I felt uneasy about it, but when I thought about the debts we owed, I decided not to worry about it. I told myself that this is the society we live in today, that no one does business as honestly as us do, and that we were fools for not earning readily available money. A moment later, I thought again: What would happen if my customers discovered the quality problems? But then I thought: Others in this industry have operated this way for years, and I’ve never heard about customers causing them problems. At any rate, all these orders are for clients in other towns and provinces, so even if they find out, they won’t come so far to raise the issue with us.” The entire day, my interests and my conscience struggled with one another. Up until the moment my clients came to collect their cotton filling, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling nervous. But that evening, after I counted the money I earned that day. It was much more than I usually make, and my anxiety turned to excitement.
In the days that followed, I continued to do business in the same way. But after a long time passed, I still felt uneasy. I always felt that I had done something wrong, and that one day I would be found out, and one of my victims would come to my door. Every day I felt guilty, and in my heart I felt depressed and tormented.
Although Being an Honest Person Is Good, Profit Is Difficult to Put Down
Later, I accepted the gospel of God’s kingdom. I was able to purely open up with my brothers and sisters, I prayed to God when I experienced difficulties and used fellowship on God’s words to resolve them. I managed to greatly reduce my troubles, and spiritually I felt freedom and release. I was very fortunate to be able to receive God’s salvation in the last days.
One day, I read these words from God: “Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man.” After reading God’s words, I understood that being an honest person is God’s requirement for those who believe in Him, that God likes honest people and loathes people who resort to deception, and that only honest people can enter God’s kingdom. But when I compared that to what I had done, deceiving people through various means to make cotton filling all these years, and earning dishonest money, I realized I would never gain God’s approval if I continued like this. I wanted to be an honest person according to God’s requirements, but facing such fierce market competition, if I was an honest person and did business honestly, I could never make much money, much less would I ever be able to buy a house or buy a car. I felt trapped between a rock and a hard place. After struggling with it, I chose a compromise: I would be honest before God and in front of my brothers and sisters, and I wouldn’t lie or be deceptive, but I wouldn’t take the idea too seriously in business.
One day, two regular customers came to the store to place an order. I saw that it was a large order, and I knew that if I used good-quality cotton to make filling for them, I wouldn’t make much money. So, involuntarily, I returned to my old, deceptive ways of doing business. I was very happy when I received the money, but when I read God’s words that night and prayed to God, I felt especially miserable and guilty. I had to kneel down and pray to God to admit my mistakes before I could find peace in my heart. But after that, I still couldn’t overcome the temptation of profit, and I watched myself deceive people and God time and again. I felt especially remorseful and tormented, but I didn’t know how to escape the temptation of money. I could only pray to God and ask God to guide me.
God’s Word Helps Me Find the Root of My Deception
One day, at five in the afternoon, just after my husband had delivered the cotton filling and left, and two people came to the store to buy cotton filling. After they paid, I discovered that I had undercharged them by more than three hundred yuan, and I was heartbroken.
That evening, I went before God and prayed, “God! That this happened to me today, losing money, made me very miserable, but this certainly must contain Your good intentions. I don’t know what to do about this matter. Please illuminate and enlighten me, and help me understand Your will.” After I’d prayed, I read these words of God: “From the highest point in the universe, God watches over humanity’s every move and over all that people say and do. He even observes all of their innermost thoughts with absolute clarity, never overlooking them; as such, His words cut right into people’s hearts, striking at their every thought, and God’s words are astute and without error.” Yes, God observes people’s hearts and souls. God knew my every word, deed, and move. I realized that although I believed in God, I still behaved exactly as an unbeliever, and put the word “profit” before everything in business. To make money, I had used unscrupulous means to harm and deceive people. I knew that God requires us to be honest people, but I didn’t take it seriously, and I had no place for God in my heart. Thinking of this, I realized that God was using this environment to remind me, and to force me to come before God and reflect on my own corruption. If I hadn’t undercharged the customer this time, I still wouldn’t be aware of it.
After that, I saw more of God’s words: “These trends arise one after another, and they all carry an evil influence that continually debases mankind, causing people to lose conscience, humanity and reason, weakening their morals and their quality of character ever more, to the extent that we can even say that the majority of people now have no integrity, no humanity, and neither do they have any conscience, much less any reason. … So, what exactly are these trends? I have chosen a simple example that you may gradually come to understand. For example, people in the past ran their business so that nobody was cheated; they sold items at the same price regardless of who was buying. Is not some element of good conscience and humanity conveyed here? When people conducted their business like this, in good faith, it can be seen that they still had some conscience and some humanity at that time. But with man’s ever-increasing demand for money, people unknowingly came to love money, gain, and pleasure more and more. In short, people came to view money as more important than before. When people view money as more important, they unknowingly begin to attach less importance to their reputation, their renown, their good name and their integrity, do they not? When you engage in business, you see others using various means to swindle people and get rich. Although the money earned is ill-gotten, they become richer and richer. Though they may engage in the same business as you, their whole family enjoys life more than you do, and you feel bad, saying to yourself, ‘Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I earn as much as they do? I must think of a way to get more money, to make my business prosper.’ You then do your utmost to ponder how to make lots of money. … In your unawareness, you give approval to your own cheating behavior and accept it. In unawareness, you take cheating to be a legitimate commercial behavior and the most useful means for your survival and livelihood; you think that by doing this you can quickly make a fortune. This is a process: In the beginning, people cannot accept this type of behavior and they look down on this behavior and practice. Then they begin to experiment with this behavior themselves, trying it out in their own way, and their hearts begin to gradually transform. … After man has accepted this behavior and this thinking, has this not brought about a change in his heart? Your heart has changed, so has your integrity changed as well? Has your humanity changed? Has your conscience changed? (Yes.) Yes, every part of this person undergoes a qualitative change, from their heart to their thoughts, to such an extent that they are transformed from the inside out. This change pulls you further and further away from God, and you become more and more closely aligned with Satan; you become more and more alike to Satan.”
After reading God’s words, I felt that I had behaved just as revealed in God’s words. This was precisely how, bit by bit, I began to follow satanic evil trends, and move toward depravity. Satan uses ideas and notions like “Money is first” and “Money makes the world go round,” to confuse us, make us focus on money, and make us unwilling to earn money sincerely and through keeping our word. Instead, we gradually come to use deceptive methods to earn more money, we lose our conscience, reason, and humanity, and we lose the ability to discern between positive and negative things or good and evil. We even come to see deception as a justified action, believing that being able to deceive proves that we are talented and capable, while doing business in an honest, upright manner means we are incapable and lack talent. I remembered how when I started doing business, I could keep the principles of integrity and credit, I sold cotton filling at a fair price and guaranteed its quality. Although I didn’t make much money, I didn’t suffer a guilty conscience. But, inundated by evil, satanic trends, doing business according to my conscience became selling shoddy goods and shortchanging my customers. I lost my conscience and reason, and lacked any human likeness. After I began believing in God, I learned that God likes honest people, but to earn more money, I put God’s words at the back of my mind, continued to use deceptive methods to earn money, and became someone petty and despicable who cared only for profit. Instead of glorifying God, I had humiliated God. When I thought of this, I finally saw clearly how Satan uses money to corrupt and bind people, making us put money above everything, making us abandon our principles to get more money, making us ever more selfish, twisted, and greedy, and making us live without any genuine human likeness at all. Without the revelations in God’s word, I would still be obsessed with wealth, I would continue to deceive and harm people, I would continue to share in Satan’s filth, and my final end would be to offend God’s righteous disposition and be sent into oblivion and destroyed with Satan. Thinking of these things, I swore an oath to escape the harms of Satan’s evil trends, be a simple, honest person, and no longer do things deceptively.
Practicing Being an Honest Person Allows Me to See God’s Blessings
In the summer of 2015, it was the off-season for cotton filling demand, and business wasn’t very good. One day in September, a customer came to order filling for 10 quilts. I thought, “At this moment, business isn’t good. I finally have a big order, so I should use the old method of mixing good and bad cotton to make my filling, so that I can earn more money. I’ll wait for business to get better to practice being an honest person.” But, just as I was about to start making the filling, I suddenly remembered God’s words, “To be honest is to refrain from impurity in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man.” “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Sweat immediately appeared on my forehead. God observes our hearts and minds, and while I may be able to deceive people, I couldn’t deceive God. God’s requirement for being honest people is to speak and do things without contamination, and I understood the truth of being an honest person, yet I still wanted to use bad cotton as good cotton to deceive my customers. Wasn’t this knowingly sinning? God’s disposition is holy and righteous, God likes and saves honest people, and God hates those who are selfish and self-interested, and hates those who use unscrupulous means to deceive people for profit. If I continued this way, my final end would still be to be sent to in hell, and then wouldn’t my belief in God be entirely in vain? Even if I made more money, what would be the use? Now, without the enlightenment and illumination I found in God’s words, I nearly again fell for Satan’s trick and was harmed by it. So, I quickly prayed to God, “God! Please save me from my deceitful and selfish corrupt dispositions. I don’t want to do anything to deceive people and harm people anymore. Please give me the confidence and perseverance to be an honest person.” After I prayed, I used good-quality cotton to make filling for 10 quilts, and when I received the money the customer gave me, I felt very safe and secure.
Later, I saw these words from God: “When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals that people pursue in life and their myriad ways of living, you will find not one of them conforms to the Creator’s original intention with which He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all traps which cause people to become depraved, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you; it is to try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to live without individual choice, and to become a person who worships God.” God’s words made me understand more clearly that in the past, I had been controlled by satanic principles and views like “Money is first” and “Money makes the world go round,” when I used unscrupulous means to earn money. My pursuit of my life goals and direction brought me ever further from God’s requirements, and I was walking the path of no return to depravity. Only by letting go of these satanic principles and views, pursuing being an honest person according to God’s requirements, and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements could I shun Satan’s traps and gain God’s approval and blessings. God’s words gave me a direction for practice, and gave me the extra strength to practice being an honest person.
Very quickly, my reputation for using good cotton to make my quilts spread, and despite the long distance, some customers drove for several hours to buy cotton filling at our shop. Still more called from thousands of kilometers away to place orders and ask us to send deliveries to them by courier. Some buyers ordered more than a hundred quilts at a time. When I saw my business booming, I experienced the joy of practicing being an honest person. I never imagined that finding my integrity again would also bring me God’s grace and blessings. Thanks be to God for guiding me to struggle free from the bondage of Satan’s evil trends and learn to be a good person.