Once there was a very rich businessman. He visited the temple and prayed there everyday. He carried on with this schedule for 20 years after which he died.
By chance his servant also passed away the same day. Both reached the doors of God's place at the same time. The rich man saw God coming to the gate bare-footed. He was happy and thought,"I was a true follower of God. So he will welcome me personally." But to his surprise, God welcomed the servant and did not even look at the rich man. Then God ordered his soldiers to take them both to heaven.
A little upset, the rich man went up to God and said,"I used to go to temple daily and worship you. I have not committed any sin. Do you agree with me?"
"Yes, I do," God replied. "That's why I am sending you to heaven."
The rich man continued,"But I never saw my servant praying. So why the grand welcome for him?"
God replied,"I agree that you prayed for long hours. But you always took me as a 'giver' and 'defender'. You looked upon me as a supreme power that lives in temple. I fulfilled all your expectations and always stood besides you. Your servant never went to any temple and never prayed. But he thought that I was always with him and used to share everything with me. Like, whenever any guest came to your house, he would say,'Oh God, now I'll have to make another cup of tea.' In this way, he became my best friend. A best friend is the one who shares each and every thought and feeling with you. That's why I gave him Sudama welcome."
Thus we need to take a lesson for this story. The businessman gave God the respect and prayed to Him daily. But the servant endeared himself to God with his whole-hearted acceptance of God's presence every moment in his life. God values true relationships and such friends are always welcome into his abode.
P.S. - This story was published in a newspaper 3-4 years back. The cutting is still available with me. Just thought to share it with all of you.