The preacher disapproved the merchant's lifestyle. He believed that had the merchant remained faithful to one wife, then the merchant would have been a better husband and father to his children. He disapproved the way the merchant carried out his business. He called the merchant stingy for always appearing to be without ready cash when the preacher approached him for alms. He told his congregation that they should emulate him, remaining happy and satisfied with a single wife. He told them that they should be generous in giving alms to the poor.
Then one day, the preacher was given a pair of shoes by a stranger.
"Wear them for a day, and may God give you guidance."
The preacher put on the shoes. It was tight and uncomfortable. However, as God wills it, he couldn't take it off after wearing it. The shoes took him into the merchant's house.
The merchant's wives waited for him.
"Our husband, the merchant left orders that you are to manage this household on his behalf. As you are a preacher and a servant of God, he trusts you more than he trusts other men."
The preacher was confident that he could perform the task better than the merchant. He did his best to be fair to all the wives and their demands. Yet at the end of the day, the unhappy wives said," The merchant has always treated us fairly upon marrying us but you have paid more attention to the demands of some wives and children, and neglected the needs of others. You still have a lot to learn."
The shoes took the preacher into the merchant's warehouse. The merchant's workers were waiting.
"Our master, the merchant left orders that you are to manage his business on his behalf. As you are a preacher and a servant of God, he trusts you more than he trusts other men."
The preacher was confident that he could perform the task better than the merchant. He did his best to be honest, friendly and firm. Yet at the end of the day the unhappy workers said, "The merchant had always been kind and generous with us, but you have been strict and stingy. You still have a lot to learn."
Night fell. The preacher returned to his own home. He was very tired. The shoes had been very uncomfortable to wear. His own wife was waiting for him at the door.
"You look exhausted. Where have you been all day?"
The preacher told his wife everything that happened to him that day.
"Well, each of us wears different pairs of shoes. They only fit us and nobody else comfortably. It has been difficult being in the merchant's shoes, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it has. I had thought that wearing the merchant's shoes would be easy and comfortable but I was wrong. Wearing these shoes has taught me a great lesson. I had judged a person using my own standards, not God's. I had not known the problems faced by the merchant, yet I have judged him harshly. Indeed, I have no right to judge a person based on what I myself believe is right, for everything that happens, happens under His will. If God has decided that the merchant is to have many wives and many children or to be rich and successful, I should not question His decision. Instead I should be thankful that He has only tested my patience with one wife, and to test my faith in Him with far less challenges than what the merchant has to face everyday in his life. Instead of criticising the merchant, I should pray that he continue being a good man."
The preacher prayed to God for forgiveness. After prayer, the shoes became loose and he could easily take them off.
The next day, the merchant returned home. The preacher greeted him warmly, asked for forgiveness and they became good friends and good neighbours.