A Christian missionary in India had befriended a devoted Hindu, and had explained that salvation is a gift. Then one day the Hindu told the missionary he was going to crawl many miles on his knees to Delhi as a means of earning salvation. But before he leaves he gave the missionary a small, heavy box. "I have had this box for years", said the Hindu. "I keep one thing in it. Now i will tell you about it. I once had a son."

"A son?", the missionary responded. "Why you never told me you had a son."

"My son was an excellent pearl diver. On day he found the most beautiful pearl, one of the largest ever found off the coast of India. But he had stayed under the water too long and he died soon after he recovered the pearl. I have kept the pearl. And now I want to give it with you."

"This is an amazing pearl", the missionary said. "Let me buy it. I'll give you 10,000$ for it, or if it takes more I will work for it."

"Friend", the Hindu said, "this pearl is beyond all price. No man in all the world has money enough to pay what the pearl is worth to me. I will sell it to you. You may have it as a gift."

"No, I cannot accept that. As much as i want the pearl, I cannot accept it that way. I must pay for it or work for it," said the missionary.

The old diver was stunned. "You don't understand. Don't you see? My only son gave his life to get this pearl. And I would not sell it for any money. It's worth is in the life-blood of my son. I cannot sell this, but I can give it to you. Just accept it as token of the love I bear you," said the Hindu.

The missionary could not speak for a moment. Then he gripped the hand of the old man. "Don't you see," the missionary said in a low voice, "that is just what you have been saying to God."

The Hindu looked searchingly at the missionary and slowly, slowly he began to understand.

"God is offering you heaven as a free gift. It is so great that no man on earth could own it. No man on earth could earn it. His life would be millions of years to short. No man is good enough to deserve it.


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