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The Emperor's Seed

Once upon a time, there was an old emperor in China. As the time was approaching for him to meet his Maker, he decided to choose a successor. Being a righteous man, he knew his children were not suitable for the throne. He therefore began to seek a righteous man to rule the kingdom. He also planned to train him up while he was still young. So he summoned young boys of ages from 10 to 12 into his palace. He told them, "It is about time that I step down and choose the next emperor. One of you will be the chosen one." The kids were astonished by those words!

The emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today. This is a very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back one year from now. You will have to present what you have grown from this seed. I will then judge the plant that you bring, and choose the next emperor!"

Ling was twelve. He was there in the palace that day. Like the other boys, he too received a special seed from the emperor. He went home excitedly and told his mother the amazing story. She helped him to get a pot and some fertile soil. Ling lovingly planted the seed into the soil, and watered it carefully. Every day after school, he would faithfully water the soil and watch for growth.

After one month, some of his friends were sharing and discussing about their seeds turning into healthy plants. But Ling’s seed remained unchanged. Nothing grew out of the soil. As the months went by, Ling felt like a failure. While others were boasting about their plants, he was worried that he might have ruined the emperor’s seed. This was a serious offence. Everyone had nice plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends. He just kept waiting hopefully for his seed to grow.

The period of one year was up. All the youths brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling must present his pot too. His mother had always taught him honesty and integrity. She told him to bring the empty pot to the palace. He did it obediently though he was afraid. This might be the end of hislife.

The boys brought in all kinds of plants into the palace. Some were full of flowers, and some were full of fruits. In all shapes, sizes and colours, all the pots were wonderful to behold – with the exception of one. Some boys teased Ling for his empty pot. Some felt sorry for him. Ling positioned himself somewhere further away from the throne.

When the emperor arrived, there was complete silence. He greeted the young people, "Welcome back to the palace. This is the day you have been waiting for! I am seeing the fruits of your labour. Great job! Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"

The emperor began to survey the whole room. He spotted Ling with his empty pot at the back of the room. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. "This is the end! The emperor is going to punish me. I'm a failure! Maybe he will chop my head off today!"

As Ling stood before the throne, the emperor asked for his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. The other boys were wondering why the emperor had specifically summoned for Ling. The emperor looked at Ling, and announced to everyone there, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"

Ling couldn't believe his ears. How could this be? His pot was empty! Then the emperor explained, "One year ago, I gave each of you a seed. To tell you the truth, all the seeds were boiled. It is impossible to grow them. All of you except Ling have deceived me. When your seed did not grow, all of you substituted another seed for the one that I had given you. Ling was the only one who had the courage and honesty. He brings me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the righteous one who will be the new emperor!"

A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:20). God is seeking for faithful men. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Our faith must be obedience-based and not outcome-based. God promised to give Abraham a son. Abraham tried to create the outcome. The result was Ishmael. Today, we are still witnessing the consequences of that decision. But God was faithful, He eventually gave Abraham Isaac. He still counted Abraham as obedient and righteous.

True obedience is the only thing that matters to God. We are called to do His will, and leave the outcome to Him. Some of the faithful men and women, in Hebrews 11:39-40, had trusted God and won His approval. But none of them received all that God had promised them. God had better plans and rewards for them.

Jesus didn’t come down from the cross. His legions of angels didn’t rescue Him. He died and was buried. But that’s not the end of the story. The apostle Paul described Jesus in Philippians 2:8-11, "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

To the world, the crucified Christ was a failure. But to God, the crucified Christ was a success. Jesus Christ is named Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful (Rev 17:14).

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy with Jesus, but to trust and obey.


Written on:
21 July 2004