One day a king said to his minister, “In my kingdom I have many poor people. I feel sorry for them. After all, they are also human beings, just like me, only God has made me a king. I am so rich and I am living in a palace. I have so many servants and everybody is at my command. I enjoy all kinds of earthly pleasures. I feel sorry for these people who do not even have a house to live in. I really want them to have decent homes. I don’t want homeless people in my kingdom. I want to give the poor people money to build houses.”
So the king asked the minister to make an announcement about what he wanted to do. Thousands of people came to the palace to get money to build a house. They all said they were homeless, and the king believed them because he knew that there were many poor people in his kingdom.
The minister was very wise. He said to the king, “You do so many things for your subjects, but many times they don’t properly use the things that you have given them out of your compassion. Often they misuse what you give them.”
“Explain this to me further,” said the king.
“Certainly I will,” said the minister. “But first I would like to ask you a question. Do you not think that if you do something for me, then I will do something for you?”
“Certainly!” said the king. “It is give and take.”
The minister said, “There are many times when we want to do things for others. But first we have to know whether or not they deserve it.”
“What do you mean?” asked the king.
The minister said, “Thousands of people have come here to get money to build houses. But let us see how many of them actually deserve it. Will you listen to my request? I want to tell them that if they work for you for two hours a day for only one week, then you will give them money for a house.”
The king said, “Who is such a fool that he will not work for two hours a day for one week to get a house? Everybody will agree. I am very happy that this is your request. I am more than ready to give them everything free, but if you want them to prove that they deserve it, I am happy that you are making such a simple request.”
“Yes,” said the minister. “One week will fly away in no time. Then we will give them money to build a house.”
O God, after the minister made the announcement, out of the thousands of people who had come, only one hundred stayed to work. The others all left because they didn’t want to work for two hours a day for one week.
The minister said to the king, “It is only these hundred who really deserve the money. I don’t really want them to work. I just wanted to see if they were willing to work. Please give them the money. These people really need the money and truly deserve it.”
So the king gave money to the hundred people who had stayed.