"Bad, Bad," says the buyer,
but when he goes away, then he boasts.
The savvy shopper does not reveal how much he truly values the object he wants. He is critical of the object. He points out its flaws. He doesn't need it and certainly can't afford what is being asked. All the while he inwardly prizes it. When he does acquire the object, he then may boast of its value. This is how we normally conduct business. We look for a "good deal." We try to get the best bargain we can.
But then there is that rare object whose value is so clear that one would be ashamed to bargain for it. Indeed, the buyer is only too ready to pay full cost. So it is with the gospel, the pearl for which the knowing buyer eagerly gives all that he possesses. Such a pearl the "savvy" buyer cannot buy. It is not available to bargain hunters, even though it is the greatest of all bargains. Even when we give away all that we possess, its value is such that we grow only the richer for possessing it.
The gospel is not an object to haggle over. God cannot be bartered with and certainly not over the matter of the value of his Son's atoning death. He offers the gospel, but not for bartering. He offers it free, but will only give to those who recognize its costliness. And those who obtain it boast only in the Lord's great mercy to them who do not deserve such a gift.