The Bookshop

library photograph

Walking into the bookshop, the man asked the proprietor, “Do you have a Bible?” “Yes. Try the next room on the middle shelf. However, there is only one in stock, and because of store policy, it is not for sale. But you may read it while in the store.” Puzzled, the man stepped into the next room to find it.

Seeing it on the shelf, the man began to have a conversation with himself. “I wonder if I can bargain with the shop owner to purchase this Bible. If I approach this situation with skill and cunning, he will sense a debt between us. This way, he will likely sell me this good book. After all, I make deals for a living. This should be easy. Surely, he needs to make a sale today.”

Easing toward the sales counter, the customer said to the owner, “Good sir, I see you are working alone today. I’m sure this makes it difficult to make progress with your duties while customers shop. May I be of service and shelve the books stacked in the corner. I am quite happy to help.”

The proprietor did not feel inclined to say either yes or no. With a nod, he allowed him to proceed. The man, sensing his opportunity, began shelving the books. An hour passed and all was done. Thinking the owner to be indebted, he again asked if he could purchase the Bible.

“Good sir, I cannot sell the Bible.”

“Sir, I have done you a great favor by shelving the books and therefore, eased your burden. By doing so, I believe I am entitled on two counts. First, by doing this chore, I think you owe me some payment. I do not need money, but I would like to purchase the Bible. A man’s sense of fair play suggests this is equitable. Are not policies meant to be broken? Do you not have a sense of indebtedness for my labor? Second, I believe I have proven my worthiness. By doing this good deed, I have passed the test of being a good man. If not for my kindness, the books would have remained unshelved because you did not have time. Do you not agree?”

“Good sir, I see you need a Bible and the words contained in its pages. God inspired his servants to write within its books and chapters the truth He wished mankind to know. Read it as though God is speaking and you will discover two of those truths. One is you cannot bargain with or incur a debt with God. He needs nothing you have but yourself. The other is seeking favor with Him is not a test. He accepts you as you are. The truth within is not for sale. It is free to all who seek it. Its price is prepaid. Please, take it with you as a gift. Then, go and do likewise.” Thoughtful, the man left.

All quiet now, the proprietor placed a stack of books in the corner and one Bible on the shelf.

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