Faith and Life

The Musty Certificates of Honor

By Zhuanbian 

One morning when I tidied the room, I opened my father’s favorite cabinet and found all kinds of certificates of honor, some of which had turned musty for being kept too long. Once I was very proud of these glories my father gained. However, when I thought about his recent condition, I felt unutterably sad. Looking at these certificates, I lost myself in thought.

My father was a teacher of some note in my hometown. His articles once appeared in local newspapers and on TV and many schools would invite him to give lectures. For the sake of gaining those glories, he gave tirelessly. In order to write a good article, he always stayed up late, coughing from time to time, which often awaked me. Long-term overwork exhausted him, and he got a slipped disk and cervical spondylosis, which made him unable to sit for a long time. Besides, he got a lot of migraines. When we saw him being tormented to be in constant pain by these diseases, we all felt so bad. My mother always advised him not to work that hard anymore, but it didn’t work, for he thought as long as he could gain those certificates of honor, no matter how many pains he would suffer, it was worth it.

Now my father was in his late fifties, his eyes weak and his hair grey. With many illnesses, he went around to seek treatment, but didn’t get any better. However, those certificates of honor, which were exchanged with his health, couldn’t relieve his pain. It reminded me of the words of the Lord Jesus, “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).

Then, I saw God’s words say, “So Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts until all they can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision to both maintain and obtain fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds man with invisible shackles. These shackles are borne on people’s bodies, and they have not the strength nor courage to throw them off. So people trudge ever onward in great difficulty, unknowingly bearing these shackles. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind becomes estranged from God and betrays Him. With each passing generation, mankind becomes more and more wicked, more and more darkened, and so in this way one generation after another is destroyed in the fame and gain of Satan.

Only after reading God’s words did I understand: Pursuing reputation is a thought instilled in people by Satan and one way that Satan corrupts, harms and controls people. Satan has planted the poisons deeply within us mankind, such as “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” “One should bring honor to his ancestors,” and “towering above others.” Therefore, we seek nothing but fame and fortune and think that without reputation and position, we are insignificant in this society and our life is of no value and meaningless. In order to be highly regarded, we can endure any pain, pay any price, and even sacrifice our health. I thought of my father, who wrote articles from dawn till dusk in order for people to look up to him. He has been striving for reputation and position all his life. Although his efforts produced some returns and his vanity was temporarily satisfied, in the end all he got were many illnesses, emptiness and misery. These certificates of honor, which were actually worthless waste paper now, couldn’t help him alleviate his pains or recuperate his health at all.

Thinking of myself, I was actually pursuing the same thing as my father. From childhood, influenced by him, I pursued to tower above others. In order to gain respect from others and become a successful man like him, after graduation, I started my own business and opened a building materials store. I always accompanied customers in dining and gave bribes to them. Moreover, I also learnt to watch their expressions and fawn and flatter them, and even plastered some fake smile on my face when I didn’t know how to respond to their topics. Every day I shuttled between the construction site and social situations and I even had no time for a meal when I was busy. When my mother spread God’s gospel to me, I put her off for I thought I was still young and should earn more money so that I could enjoy due respect from my peer group … With these reasons, I refused God’s salvation again and again. However, at such a young age of 26, I had stomach trouble and joint pain from overwork. My joints would ache whenever it rained; a little heavy work would cause my lumbar vertebrae too painful to be straightened. Actually, I was walking the same path as my father. For the sake of reputation and position, I expended everything. Even when I was presented with God’s gospel, I didn’t seek. Fame and gain are indeed the shackles that Satan brings to us mankind, making us stray away from God and betray God.

I should learn a lesson and couldn’t continue down the wrong path. Then how could I cast off the bondage of reputation and status and obtain release and freedom? With this question, I opened up the book of the word of God and saw God say, “Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life, will one gradually break free from all heartbreak and suffering, shake off all the emptiness of life.” “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, try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to have no choice, and to become a person who worships God. In the past, because I had no knowledge of God’s sovereignty and was unwilling to submit to His orchestrations and arrangements, I scrambled for fame and gain with my own two hands. In order for others to look up to me, I rushed and busied like hell, bent all my energies and betrayed my personality and dignity. Moreover, I clearly knew what my mother preached was the true way, but I still refused to accept it. As a result, all I brought to myself was nothing but pain. Now God’s words showed me the path: In order to break free from all the suffering and shake off the bondage of reputation and position, I need to lay aside my old view of life and no longer live by Satan’s ideology. And I should accept God’s sovereignty and arrangements, pursue to know and obey Him, becoming a person who worships Him. Only living in this way has value and meaning. This is the right path of human life.

After recognizing these, I decided to break with my old life view, no longer striving for the fame and gain and position. And I was willing to follow God and walk the path of pursuing the truth. Later, I began to actively live the church life and perform the duty with my brothers and sisters. Of the brothers and sisters around me, some also had rushed about for fame and gain and sought to live a superior life before believing in God. Although they made a good living and had an abundant material life as they expected, they had the same feelings as me: Fame and gain cannot fill the emptiness in our hearts, nor can they be exchanged for our health, and even less can they bring us happiness. After accepting God’s salvation, they understood the true meaning of life from God’s words, saw through the fact that seeking fame and gain will come to naught, and realized only the life of believing in and worshiping God is meaningful. When they submitted to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, they were not bound by money or fame and gain anymore, and their heart gained the release and freedom they never had before. All this cannot be brought by money, fame, or gain. When they occasionally met some troubles and things that were other than what they wanted, they also felt distressed and sad, but they could see those things in accordance with God’s words, find the ways of practice from God’s words and encourage and sustain each other; therefore, unconsciously those problems and difficulties were resolved easily. Living in this big family, I don’t need to scramble against others and intrigue for fame like before. I feel very happy!

Every time when I see many people around me striving for reputation and position and undergoing Satan’s affliction but remaining unaware, I’m glad that I have got God’s salvation: I no longer repeat the tragic life like my father but live in the guidance of God, thereby obtaining true release and freedom. Thank God for His salvation!