Talks: The Emperor’s Seeds

Contributed by: Phil Trotter, 29 January 2013

An emperor in the Far East was growing old. He knew It was time to choose his successor. He had no children, so had given considerable thought to how he might find the right replacement.

He called all the young people in the kingdom together one day and said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The kids were shocked. But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today, one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, look after it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge what you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!”

One boy named Ling was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully.

Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about 3 weeks, he heard some other youths talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks went by. Still nothing.

By now, several others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. 6 months went by; still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. It seemed every one else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing.

Ling didn’t say anything to his friends. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow. A year finally went by and the time came for the youths of the kingdom to bring their plants to the emperor for inspection.

Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot but his Mother said he must be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his Mother was right.

He took his empty pot to the palace. When he arrived, Ling was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes.

He realised some kids were missing and guessed they hadn’t grown plants either. Oh why didn’t he stay away like them. Ling put his empty pot on the floor. Many of the other kids laughed at him. A few looked sympathetically on, but said nothing.

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor as he walked passed each one.

Finally, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. There was a lot of commotion, many kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down.

He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!”

Ling couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, “One year ago, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, look after it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, perhaps you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. In this year, Ling alone has shown me that he has grown the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”

~ Author Unknown

“A person reaps what they sow. The one who sows to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all.” Galatians 6:7-10