Fixed Price

“Again, the devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only you shall serve”‘” (Matthew 4:8-11).
I have never been a very effective bargainer. I usually don’t have a proper idea of the true value of goods, and am easily intimidated by sellers who seem to know just what they deserve and who may seem offended by my offers. Since I have been traveling in areas where bargaining in the open market is a way of life, however, I have learned not only to participate but even to enjoy it.
Once on the streets of Kathmandu I was offered a “Kukhuri” (Gorka soldier’s knife) at 3,500 Nepali rupees (about $50). I was actually planning to purchase one of them at some point, and having shopped a little I knew that their true price was closer to 600 or 700 rupees, or about $10. I offered 600, then kept walking. The vender followed me all the way to my hotel, gradually reducing his asking price, until just before I walked through the door and out of his reach he finally said, “Okay, I will take 600.” I felt good about having succeeded in buying something I wanted at what I felt to be a fair price.
In many stores, however, bargaining is not practiced. One offers less than the listed price only to hear the storekeeper respond, “Fixed Price”. Since that is the system that prevails in American retail business, I am usually pretty comfortable with it. Take it or leave it, the price is what it is. This system reflects a view of reality and a philosophy that is easily transferable to other matters.
Certain things are, or at least should be, non-negotiable. One’s honor, a nation’s security, truth, justice, genuine love — there is no price on these things, no bargaining or negotiating them away. Jesus’ reaction to Satan’s attempt to buy his adoration was the appropriate response. Jesus’ worship did not have a price — it could not be purchased. He worshipped God, and only God; no one else could receive his devotion. Not all the kingdoms of the world nor any other enticement could change his allegiance.
Cynics claim, “Everyone has his price.” Is that really true? Can we be bought? Can our faith, our love be purchased by enough money, or pleasure, or power? Or is it given to God who made us and to him alone?
Let us follow the example of our Lord and cry, “Away with you Satan! For it is written ….”

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