Betrayal

Jeff had joined a company which distributed fertilizers on credit to poor farmers in one rural area eight years before. The scheme was such that Jeff’s company would be the preferential buyer of all the produce of farmers who used Jeff’s fertilizers on credit. And for the past seven years, the scheme had been successful, attracting new farmers. And everyone had been very diligent, selling their produce according to the contract. Jeff had grown to like this community very much. The farmers were very friendly. Jeff even found Warren, whom he now considered his best friend.

But this year, this eighth year, when a record ninety five percent of farmers in the area had joined the scheme, things had gone terribly wrong, Jeff thought bitterly as he walked towards the community complex with Zeke the Bouncer. This season, the rainfall pattern had not been normal. Rain started late. And they had had a dry spell in the middle of the season when crops needed more water. Then finally the rain picked up towards the end of the season, causing flooding in some low lying areas, and damaging whatever little yield there was. Needless to say, this year’s harvest had been a disaster.

Yet that was not the worst part, Jeff mused angrily. The worst part was that a new electronics company had come to that area and distributed its high-end luxury consumer electronics to the farmers on credit at very high prices. And unfortunately, almost every farmer had fallen for them. But unlike Jeff’s company, the electronics company was a lot more aggressive in recovering its credit. They had recruited spies who, it seemed, really helped them.

But what made Jeff so angry, and mostly at himself, was that he had not anticipated how the tough this year would be for his company. Most farmers, even those who had been good friends with Jeff for over the years, had fallen for the new expensive television sets, radios, and kitchen gadgets. They could not face Jeff out of shame. Even his best friend, Warren, was now avoiding Jeff. Jeff was extremely disappointed. He felt betrayed. How could people whom he now considered his family cause him so much grief?

This year, the unthinkable had happened. Jeff had not recovered one single instalment. Not one. Not even a pledge. And as time went on, it was clear that there would be none.

And today, Jeff had to meet Barry, the regional manager from the headquarters. Jeff had been dreading this moment. The moment when he had to come face-to-face with failure.

Never had he ever considered about using debt collection services until yesterday. Jeff found most debt collectors in the area to be unscrupulous. Yet today, as he prepared to meet Barry, Jeff had decided to hire Zeke the Bouncer, a tall menacingly beefy guy. Just to show headquarters he was doing everything he could to recover the credit.

Jeff and Zeke arrived at the community hall, and were given a meeting room that was next to the community clinic.

“When Barry arrives,” Jeff told Zeke, “please go out for a bit for us to have our discussion.”

“Sure,” Zeke replied in his deep voice which always startled Jeff.

A moment later, Barry walked into the meeting room, and Zeke went outside, closing the door behind.

“Welcome, sir,” Jeff said, trying desperately to compose himself. This was going to be a gruesome meeting.

“Thank you,” Barry said as they sat down. Barry was in his late forties with calm measured gait. His expressionless face and his measured tone made the encounter very ominous for Jeff.

“I have come here to investigate what is happening in your area the year,” Barry began.

“It has been a tough one, sir,” Jeff’s voice was unsteady. “The weather, as you know, has not been good this year. But also our clients have made very poor choices.” He explained about the electronics company.

“But why did you not inform headquarters about the new development?” Barry asked.

“When they came here, they appeared to be small, and I had underestimated their impact.” Jeff said.

The regional manager started writing in his diary.

“Just to let you know that I have been spending sleepless nights trying to recover our credit, sir. The farmers have been dodging me,” Jeff explained.

The director nodded his head and continued taking notes.

“I’ve just engaged the services of a local debt collecting service,” Jeff said while motioning towards Zeke who was standing outside the door.

“What has happened in your area is very disappointing, Jeff. We are considering several options for you,” Barry said.

Jeff felt very dizzy.

“I am sorry, sir, I will work harder to recover whatever I can. But it will be difficult,” Jeff said while resolving to be harsher than before to the farmers.

“Well,” the director said, smiling mildly, “we have decided to write-off all this year’s credit.”

Jeff jaws dropped.

“What? Really?!”

“Yes, we’ve resolved to categorise it as bad debt.”

“I can’t believe it,” Jeff said, “Thank you, thank you. I am so relieved. I promise to work harder that this situation should never occur again.”

“It is a shift in our approach,” Barry said, handing over an envelope to Jeff. “That is our new strategy. I want to have your views.”

As they stepped outside, Jeff spotted a familiar figure, a figure that had become illusive the past several weeks. Warren had just stepped out of the clinic and was heading the other way.

“Excuse me,” Jeff muttered as he rushed after Warren.

“Warren! Warren!” Warren turned with surprise which quickly morphed into shock.

“Why have you been dodging me? We were friends!” Jeff said while restraining Warren by the shoulder.

“I am sorry, Jeff. I took two TVs and a washing machine,” Warren explained, “It was a terrible mistake.”

Jeff thought about the many visits he had made to Warren’s house in vain, the sleepless nights he spent worrying about his career, and the humiliation he felt the whole community had subjected him to. He was very angry.

“I am sorry too, Warren,” Jeff said slowly, “but this community needs a lesson. And I am going to make an example of you,” Jeff turned to Zeke. “Zeke! Please deal with him.”

“Come on, Jeff.” Warren said, “You can’t be serious. I will work hard to make it up to you. You know me.”

“I obviously don’t know you well enough, Warren. Take him away.”

As Zeke the bouncer began to drag Warren away, Jeff turned only to realise the Barry was standing very close by looking horrified.

“And what is this all about?” Barry said, his face devoid of colour.

“Oh, sir, I didn’t realise you were still here. I am sending an important message to the community never to double-cross our company ever again,” Jeff beamed.

“Jeff, you are fired!” Barry spat out as he thrust a copy of the letter he had just given Jeff.

 

The paragraph that Barry was motioning at said: “We resolve to treat all our customers with dignity and fairness at all levels. Anyone not ready to tow this new approach should resign or else would be let go.”

 

Jeff could not believe what just happened to him. What went wrong? Jeff realised he had been focusing on his efforts and not on the company’s strategy. Because he was focusing on his efforts, he could not really understand the strategy that his company had adopted. He was focusing on his ego. If only he had focused on the grand scheme of things!

 

I tell this story only to illustrate a point. Walking by the Spirit is not primarily about you, how you feel or what you can do. Rather, it is about walking in the reality of the love of God revealed to you. It is about meditating on the love of God to the point that it becomes your conviction. The fruit of that conviction will be love, joy, peace, self control. The fruit.

Fruits cannot be manufactured. They grow. And in this case, the fruit of the Spirit develops as a by-product of walking in the Spirit. You don’t have to focus on intellectually forcing yourself to forgive others, being patient and so forth just because someone told you it is the Christian thing to do. It is definitely something you could try, but that is not God’s best for you. God’s best for you is to walk in the reality of His love on a daily basis such that forgiving others will come to you naturally.

I got motivated to write Receiving the Love of God to facilitate anyone who desiring to discover and experience the love of God in a flesh and relevant way. In it, I talked about the Love Path to Obedience. The Love Path to Obedience describes the ideal way one can obey God. It is a three-step process which is simple to follow.

  • You must experience the radical love of God as an individual
  • The more you live in that love, you will develop love for God
  • It is based on your love for God that you choose to obey God.

 

In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus taught about a parable of the unforgiving servant based on which I adapted the story of Jeff I just told. Jesus of course is telling anyone who wants to forgive not to focus on counting. Rather, that they should focus on how forgiven they are. When you are counting and depending of your own self-effort, you will get worn out and give up. When you focus on the power of God and His love for mankind, forgiveness would be such an easy thing to do. Forgiveness becomes a privilege we get to participate in. We get to do our Father’s business from an identity basis. It is who I am. I forgive because I belong to forgiving family, and my Father just loves to forgive. It is my chosen lifestyle.

 

Excerpt from Stewarding the Love of God

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