After My Friend Becomes My Rival …

By Anqi

Morning sunshine quietly came into Anqi’s room through the French window and warmed the whole room. Anqi went to the window and opened it, greeted by a whiff of fresh air. She looked up at the bright sky with a smile, feeling much more at ease. A nice day had begun.

Anqi went early to her beauty shop as usual and there she started doing her business for that day. After cleaning the store, she waited for her customer who had made a reservation the day before. This was when her good friend Meina hurried to her shop and said: “Anqi, the shop of your neighbor Xiaoli is being remodeled. Do you know what kind of shop she will open?” Anqi didn’t care about her words and said: “Xiaoli has run her furniture shop for many years. It’s very normal that she has her shop redecorated. Yesterday I told her we’ll gather together after the decoration.” After hearing this, Meina patted Anqi’s shoulder and said compassionately: “Ah, you’re too naive. You should intend to have dinner with her. She’ll open a beauty shop. She’s already learned professional skills in another place and placed an order with a Skin Care Company. All that is left before her starting business is just to wait to finish the decoration.” After listening to her, Anqi gave her a smile and thought nothing of her words and just took them as a joke. Upon seeing this, Meina dragged Anqi downstairs. When Anqi saw the newly-designed storefront and the facial beds in Xiaoli’s shop, Anqi’s heart grew cold immediately. She felt very upset and thought: “Hasn’t Xiaoli been engaging in the furniture business? She has never mentioned before me that she will open a beauty shop. I maintain a good relationship with her, but I never thought that she would vie with me for business. The popular proverb says two of a trade never agree. If she runs a beauty shop on the ground floor, how will I do my business?”

After Anqi returned to her shop, her heart was a raging sea of emotions. She thought back on her past, how she took Xiaoli as a close friend, offered her facials and body treatments for free at leisure, chatted with her about some skills at beauty treatments, gave her skin-care products, and so on. But now, Xiaoli actually changed career and did facial services. No wonder Xiaoli would often come to Anqi’s shop no matter whether she needed Anqi, and inquire about the condition of the beauty industry, the skills at beauty treatments and the channels for buying stock for the shop. It turned out all Xiaoli did was arranged in advance, and her intention was to try to probe into the beauty industry and pry words out of Anqi. The more Anqi thought of it, the angrier she got. Anqi treated Xiaoli with complete sincerity and took her as her friend. But unexpectedly, Xiaoli should make use of her. This made Anqi very sad. Beside, Anqi thought about how her business was already difficult to deal with but she would have one more competitor under her nose. This caused Anqi to feel even worse in her heart.

Just at that time, the customer’s arrival interrupted Anqi’s thoughts. She adjusted her mood and then gave the customer a beauty treatment absent-mindedly. Several hours’ work that day seemed like a long time to her. After closing for the night, she dragged her exhausted body to her home. She lay in bed tossing and turning and was unable to sleep feeling agitated. The thought of what had happened during the day left her in great turmoil. The more she thought of this, the more she disliked Xiaoli, so much so that her heart was full of hatred toward Xiaoli and she didn’t want to meet Xiaoli again. In the midst of her pain, Anqi came before God and prayed. After praying, she read God’s word where it says: “Cruel mankind! The connivance and intrigue, the snatching and grabbing one from another, the scramble for fame and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? Despite the hundreds of thousands of words God has spoken, no one has come to their senses. People act for the sake of their families, sons and daughters, for their careers, future prospects, position, vainglory, and money, for the sake of food, clothing, and the flesh. But is there anyone whose actions are truly for the sake of God? Even among those who act for the sake of God, there are but few who know God. How many people do not act out of their own interests? How many do not oppress or ostracize others in order to protect their own position?” God’s words directly pointed out Anqi’s thoughts, which allowed her to understand why she hated Xiaoli so much. There was only one beauty shop in the street where Anqi’s shop was located, which helped her have a relatively good business. However, her business would be directly affected if Xiaoli engaged in the same business below her shop. It turned out that Anqi’s hatred for Xiaoli resulted from losses in her interests. Anqi thought about how she treated Xiaoli friendly when Xiaoli’s interests did not clash with hers, how she started to dislike and hate Xiaoli when knowing Xiaoli would run the same kind of shop as hers. Anqi then realized that this was caused by her own selfish nature. The unbelievers fought and struggled with one another for fame and gain, yet as a Christian, Anqi also had the same life view as them—scrambling for fame and wealth. Anqi knew doing things like this couldn’t bring glory to God. During one year of belief in God, Anqi read much of the word of God, understood the fact that man’s fate is administered in God’s hands, saw God’s wondrous deeds in her life, and felt some changes in her disposition. But she had never thought that Xiaoli’s imposing on a bit of her interests could lead to her hatred for Xiaoli. Through the revelation of God’s words, Anqi gained some understanding of her so-doing, and she would like to deal with Xiaoli calmly and stop living in the state of selfishness and self-interest.

The next day, Anqi went to work as before. When she saw Xiaoli’s beauty shop had already opened, she still felt somewhat uncomfortable. However, she remembered God’s words she read the night before, so she kept praying to God and asked Him to protect her heart so that she could free herself from the corrupt satanic disposition. After the prayer, her heart was lighter, and then she began to pour herself into work as she always did. She thought she had let go of it. But what happened next made her heart surge again.

In the afternoon, a new customer came to her shop and said to her: “Excuse me, will you offer a beauty treatment for free. I want to have an experience.” Hearing these words made Anqi surprised. She composed herself and thought: “I have never held promotional activities to give a free beauty treatment. My new customers are generally introduced by my regular ones. Could it be that she is looking for Xiaoli’s shop? No! If all customers go there, then I’ll have no trade.” After thinking of this, Anqi pretended to be calm and said with a smile: “You mistake. I have never offered a beauty treatment for free. There are no other beauty shops on this street. The shop you’re looking for may be on the east street.” Hearing this, the customer went out into the direction Anqi pointed.

After the customer left, Anqi felt very angry. She thought to herself: “Xiaoli, you are really good. In order to attract more customers, you offer beauty treatments for free. This way, all customers will go to your shop, who will come to mine? As you stole my business, I didn’t allow the customer to go to your shop.” In addition to anger, she also got a dull pain in her heart. This was when she realized that what she had just done was not right. She thought: “What’s wrong with me? Yesterday I told myself to stop being selfish and self-interested and live out the likeness of a Christian. But why did I still hate Xiaoli and even did something to retaliate against her when my interests were affected?” Then she quickly came before God and prayed: “O God! I have realized I’m selfish and despicable, but I still involuntarily did something to harm Xiaoli’s interests. God, I want to walk out from my state of jealousy and hatred. May God guide and help me.”

Anqi read God’s words: “Until people have experienced God’s work and gained the truth, it is Satan’s nature that takes charge and dominates them from within. What, specifically, does that nature entail? For example, why are you selfish? … the main reason behind all these things is that Satan’s poison is within you. As for what Satan’s poison is, it can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers why they committed evil, they will answer, ‘Because it’s every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. Satan’s logic has become people’s lives. They may do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. Everyone thinks that since it is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, people should live for their own sakes, and do everything in their power to secure a good position for the sake of food and fine clothing. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. These words of Satan are precisely the poison of Satan, and when people internalize it, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they represent it completely. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this poison for thousands of years.” “Each and every person seeks to use violent methods to live among their fellow man; they seize their daily bread using violence; they win their positions and obtain their profits using violence, and they use violent and evil ways to do anything they want. Is this humanity not horrifying? (Yes.)”

Reading these words of God, Anqi kept nodding her head. The revelation in God’s words is a true portrayal of people’s real life. Living in a world corrupted by Satan, everyone racks his brains to fight for his own interests, and doesn’t hesitate in lying and cheating to seize his own livelihood. From God’s words, Anqi understood that the reason why she couldn’t stop hating Xiaoli and even envied her for her good business was because of the viewpoints instilled in her by Satan such as “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” and “Why get up early if there’s nothing in it for me?” After Xiaoli opened the same kind of shop as hers, Anqi no longer regarded Xiaoli as her good friend but as her competitor in business. Instinctively, Anqi rejected Xiaoli for interests and put interests above all. And for her own self-interests she even went so far as to send Xiaoli’s customer away. Even though Anqi had realized her selfish nature after reading God’s words, because she had been too deeply corrupted by Satan and the self-interested nature had been deeply rooted within her, she involuntarily did the thing that harmed Xiaoli and offended God once her own interests got involved. This made Anqi see that what Satan does is to corrupt people and entrap people, so that people don’t have normal interpersonal relationships, and fight and harm each other for profit. Similarly, Anqi, who did not understand the truth or thoroughly see the means by which Satan corrupts man, also always fought with other people fiercely for her own interests, living helplessly in suffering. It was in that moment that Anqi finally came to a sudden realization: If she didn’t resolve her corrupt satanic dispositions and didn’t correct her erroneous view on life, then she would remain living in agony and being unable to extricate herself from it.

God’s words came into Anqi’s mind: “Regardless of differences in ability, intelligence, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which does not distinguish between the great and the small, the high and the low, the exalted and the mean. What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator.” Anqi thought: “It’s true. All the life of us is ruled by God. What kind of role one plays in the world, what one does for a living, what skills one masters, and whether one is rich or poor in his life—all of these things are predetermined by God. Whether the business in Xiaoli’s shop and in mine is good or bad does not depend on our own efforts, ability, or ambitions. Instead, it is based on God’s preordination. Now what I should do is submit to God’s sovereignty. This is the most sensible decision.” When Anqi’s thoughts went there, she felt light and liberated as if having cast off a heavy burden.

One morning, Meina came to visit Anqi and whispered in Anqi’s ear: “I passed Xiaoli’s shop just now and saw several customers in it. She is a layman, but her methods for business are so brilliant. I never thought she would have such a good business when she first runs a beauty shop. Anqi, you must hold promotional activities to surpass her in business.” Her words agitated Anqi’s calm heart again. Anqi thought: “That is the case. She should have such a good business in such a short time. If things go on like this, all my customers will be attracted by her, then what should I do? No! I must hold promotional activities to attract more customers. I mustn’t lose to her.” Just when she was aching to act, she immediately realized that her situation wasn’t right, and that it was one of Satan’s tricks. So she silently prayed to God: “O God! Meina’s words urged me to fight for fame and gain. Satan uses my friend’s words to lure me to anger again. God, please protect my heart so that I can avoid being deceived by Satan and be able to stand witness for You.”

At that time, Anqi thought of God’s words: “Everything that happens to people happens when God needs them to stand firm in their testimony to Him. Though nothing major is happening to you at the moment and you do not bear great testimony, every detail of your daily life is a matter of 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.” God’s words made her understand that this matter did not happen by chance. It was authorized by God, and there was God’s good intention in it. Rather than say this was the temptation of Satan, it might be said that this was God’s test of her by means of Satan’s temptation to see whether she really had let go of her own interests and could live out God’s words. Through enlightenment from the words of God, Anqi understood that God wanted to let her bear a witness for Him and live out reality to manifest Him, honor Him, and make Satan fail in complete humiliation. With this in her mind, Anqi smiled and said: “Meina, now there is fierce competition in the beauty industry. Even if Xiaoli hadn’t opened a beauty shop, others would do it. She’s free to turn to any business she likes from her bad furniture business. Besides, how much wealth one possesses is preordained by God. Let it be.” These words stunned Meina. She gave Anqi a thumbs-up, and they looked at each other and smiled. Anqi actually knew she would have not easily put this matter aside without God’s guidance.

The days went by and nothing happened. One day, Anqi met Xiaoli and proactively greeted her. This embarrassed Xiaoli, and she said: “My furniture business was never very good, so I had no choice but to change career. However, it’s so hard to do business now, which made me hardly find a profitable one. Out of options, I decided to open a beauty shop and give it a try.” Anqi said, smiling: “It doesn’t matter. We work on our own businesses. More beauty shops on this street can attract more customers for us.” Xiaoli was quite surprised when she heard Anqi said this, and she had never thought Anqi would be so generous.

Later, Anqi went into her shop. A ray of sunshine came into the shop and warmed her heart. She could not help but sigh with emotion: “O God! Your essence is so beautiful and good. It was Your words that delivered me from my torment and gave me a relaxed and happy life. Thanks be to You.”