Shopping in Bangladesh can be a slow, tedious process. For one thing, you must go to a separate shop, sometimes in a completely different area of town, for each type of product needed. Then, unless there is a “fixed price” policy, there is bargaining to be done.
Finally, in many cases every item selected is tested to make sure it operates before the money is paid. When I first came to South Asia I found it strange to take light bulbs out of the packaging, screw them into a fixture and turn them on while still in the store. Now I catch myself wanting to do the same at Wal-Mart.
The desire for good value is universal. No one wants to be cheated. As the prophet Isaiah said, “why do you spend money for what is not bread?” That is, why buy what doesn’t satisfy, or do any real good?
Earlier this year I was with friends in Katmandu, looking at some items in a jewelry store. As we left, the owner of the store across the street tried to entice us into his store. He claimed, “I have good jewelry; the store which you just visited sells fakes.” My friends were confident in their judgment and paid him no attention, but the effort he made demonstrates the truth stated above – everyone wants to receive good value.
It is tragic that this universal desire often seems to apply only to things of a material nature. Isaiah did not contrast brands of bread or wine (Isaiah 55:1-3). He compared material food with spiritual. He rebuked those in Israel who paid premium prices for food, but were unconcerned with the needs of their souls.
The same misplaced priorities may be observed widely today. Many who claim to be Christians absent themselves from worship and fellowship at the slightest of excuses, whether for work, or pleasure, or convenience.
Bibles remain on shelves unread. Prayers of a few words may be offered at mealtimes, but rarely on other occasions. Decisions are made without considering whether God’s word gives instructions that should be heeded.
Material things are of small importance compared to one’s soul (Matthew 16:26; Colossians 2:20-22).
We also recognize that many are willing to accept almost any popular religious doctrine without question, although the same people would carefully examine a piece of fruit or an electronic gadget to ensure they were not buying damaged or inferior merchandise.
The Scripture warns, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This is not talking about light bulbs or food, but about doctrines, beliefs, and things of eternal import.