By Yang Laidi I’m Yang Laidi, sixty-two years old this year. In 1985, because my husband had health problems, our […]
Everyone Has a Bill That He Does not Have to Pay
Thoughts Provoked by the Story of the Bills
There was once a boy named Tom who presented his mother with a bill.
The bill says, “The sum Mom owes Tom is as follows:
Mom should pay Tom $5 for helping mop the floor; $10 for buying mom daily necessities; $15 for babysitting my younger sister; and $20 for being a good boy. That comes to $50. Your son, Tom.”
Then Tom hung out cheerfully after making out the bill. In the evening, he came back and found 50 dollars at his bedside. Just when he was pleased about the reward offered by his mom, he saw another bill beside it. And he picked it up and read it with curiosity.
“The sum Tom owes Mom is as follows:
Mom charges Tom $0 for having given birth to little Tom after months of pregnancy; for worrying about and looking after Tom when he is ill, $0; for teaching Tom to talk, walk, and eat, $0. Mom prays to God every day for Tom to grow healthily and happily, Tom should pay $0. In total, Tom should pay Mom $0. Love, Mom.”
After reading mother’s bill for $0, Tom was quite ashamed. He walked stealthily up to his mother, who was preparing the dinner, and buried his hot face in his mother’s bosom, cautiously slipping the 50 dollars into her pocket.
Having just read the story, I merely laughed it off. After all, Tom was only a child, for what reason should we not forgive him for his innocence? But then, on reflection, I thought most people’s morbid mentality was also mirrored by the ignorant child’s idea. In this society full of material desires, a great number of things can be sold at marked prices. And it is natural that we gain our due reward in exchange for the price we have paid. Sometimes, those that are supposed to be the expressions of love at last turn into merciless bargains owing to our selfishness.
My Relationship With God Is Revealed As One of Making a Deal With Him Through Labor
Some time ago, the work of the church was very busy, and I ran around from early morning to late at night. Once, I had to get to a place 30 miles away to meet a few brothers and sisters at 6 o’clock in the morning, so I got up early and set off at 5. Though the severe winter was gone, it was still cold. Especially at dawn, after a long night, there was a chill in the air, and the trees by the roadside were shriveled up. Despite my thick cotton-padded jacket under the dust coat, the wind still forced its way into my sleeves and reached my chest while I was riding the motorcycle. My legs were numb with cold. So, many times I had to get off and stamped my feet to warm them up. At that time, I couldn’t help thinking, “If not for the work of the church, I would never go outside so early in such cold weather. God may have seen all I did. And will He commemorate and bless me?” A sharp pang of guilt shot through me when I thought this way. I remembered the short story of Tom billing his mother. And a passage ofwhich a brother had shared with us in the meeting suddenly occurred to me too, “Many of those who follow God are only concerned with how to gain blessings or avoid disaster. … Such people have one very simple aim in following God: to gain blessing, and they are too lazy to attend to anything that doesn’t involve this aim. For them, believing in God to gain blessings is the most legitimate of goals and the very value of their faith. They are unaffected by anything that cannot achieve this objective. Such is the case with most of those who believe in God today. Their aim and motivation seem legitimate, because at the same time as believing in God, they also expend for God, dedicate themselves to God, and perform their duty. They give up their youth, forsake family and career, and even spend years busying about away from home. For the sake of their ultimate goal, they change their interests, alter their outlook on life, and even change the direction they seek, yet they cannot change the aim of their belief in God. They run about for the management of their own ideals; no matter how far the road is, and no matter how many hardships and obstacles there are along the way, they stick to their guns and remain fearless of death. What power makes them continue to dedicate themselves in this way? Is it their conscience? Is it their great and noble character? Is it their determination to do battle with the forces of evil to the very end? Is it their faith in which they bear witness to God without seeking recompense? Is it their loyalty for which they are willing to give up everything to achieve the will of God? Or is it their spirit of devotion in which they’ve always forgone personal extravagant demands? For people who have never known the work of God’s management to give so much is, quite simply, a wondrous miracle! … Apart from the benefits that are so closely associated with them, could there be any other reason for these people who never understand God to give so much to Him? In this, we discover a previously unidentified problem: Man’s relationship with God is merely one of naked self-interest. It is the relationship between the receiver and giver of blessings. To put it plainly, it is like the relationship between employee and employer. The employee works only to receive the rewards bestowed by the employer. In a relationship like this, there is no affection, only a deal; there is no loving and being loved, only charity and mercy; there is no understanding, only resignation and deception; there is no intimacy, only a gulf that cannot be bridged.”
Contemplating these thought-provoking words, I felt terribly ashamed at my thought of making demands on God and bartering with Him when I suffered a little. I realized that I had abandoned my family and job and endured hardship and suffering, not because of my noble character, my resolution to follow God, even less because of my love for God, but just for the sake of demanding God’s blessings and rewards, and buying blessing ofwith my labor and sacrifice. Wasn’t I conducting a transaction with God? Wasn’t I making use of Him and deceiving Him? At this moment, I truly felt myself a person who sought nothing but profits and lacked conscience and sense before God.
God’s Love Cannot Be Measured, and Is Far More Than I Can Repay
After back home, I went to the brother and communicated with him. He then combined a passage of God’s words to fellowship with me, which was edifying and helped me gain a better knowledge of God’s will. And the passage of God’s words say: “God created mankind; regardless of whether they have been corrupted or whether they follow Him, God treats human beings as His loved ones—or as human beings would say, the people dearest to Him—and not His playthings. Although God says He is theand that man is His creation, which may sound like there is a bit of a difference in rank, the reality is that everything God has done for mankind far exceeds a relationship of this nature. God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly provides for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about nor tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition. This is why, regardless of whether it is in the or any other books, we never find God expressing His thoughts, and we never find God describing or declaring to humans why He does these things, or why He cares so much for mankind, in order to make mankind be grateful toward Him or praise Him. Even when He is hurt, when His heart is in extreme pain, He never forgets His responsibility toward mankind or His concern for mankind, all while He bears this hurt and pain alone in silence. To the contrary, God continues to provide for mankind as He always does. Even though mankind often praises God or bears witness to Him, none of this behavior is demanded by God. This is because God never intends for any of the good things He does for mankind to be exchanged for gratitude or for it to be paid back. On the other hand, those who fear God and shun evil, those who truly follow God, listen to Him and are loyal to Him, and those who obey Him—these are the people who will often receive God’s blessings, and God will bestow such blessings without reservation. Moreover, the blessings people receive from God are often beyond their imagination, and also beyond anything human beings can exchange for what they have done or the price they have paid. When mankind is enjoying God’s blessings, does anyone care about what God is doing? Does anyone show any concern for how God is feeling?” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I”).
I was greatly touched by these words. God silently bestows the truth and life on us, and provides for us, and what He has done for us humans cannot be measured. We used to be ones who wandered and were lost in the world, and it is thanks to God’s salvation that we can come before God, so that we come to understand some truths, can discern good from evil, and beauty from ugliness, and can walk on the correct path to break away from Satan’s influence of darkness and march on toward a brilliant life. Recollecting the days of our first believing in God: How many times we have responded to God with silent tears in our prayers when we thought of His salvation and grace. How many times we have promised to give our whole lives to God. But after years of belief, when we sacrifice and suffer a little in our work, our selfish and greedy nature is revealed—we frequently take our devotion and sacrifice as the bargaining stock for God’s grace, demanding of Him to keep us so that our families always live harmoniously and peacefully, and moreover expecting Him to grant us a beautiful destination, and the blessing of the kingdom of heaven…. There are many items in our bill that we ask God to pay in our heart. In contrast, what has God demanded from us for all that He did for us mankind since the time of creation? God prepared the air, the sunshine, the rain and dew, various foods, and all the other conditions for us mankind to survive and to be able to thrive and reproduce. Moreover, after mankind was corrupted by Satan, in order to ensure their normal existence on earth, God issued laws and commandments and led man’s life for thousands of years. And later, in order to redeem mankind, who would soon be devoured by Satan, He Himself put on the flesh and was crucified for mankind. God also promised to return in the last days to do the work of judging and purifying man, bestow all the truths man needs to be saved, so as to thoroughly destroy Satan and take man to a wonderful destination…. God has never demanded anything from humans for all He did. He does everything so that we human race will live and enjoy His love forever.
Faced with God’s such profound love and ardent expectations, will we still make demands of God and claim grace from Him for the sake of our own self-interests or because of our expending and suffering? We know that God hopes we can pursue the truth, forsake our flesh and abandon Satan to practice His words, truly love Him and care for His heart to expend for Him, and obey His teachings willingly and happily, so that we will live out the likeness of a creature with humanity and sense to comfort His heart. That is our duty and responsibility as God’s creation, and only by living that way can we be worthy of all that God selflessly supplies and gives to us.