An old Emperor in the Far East decided it was time to choose his Successor. He commanded all the youths of the kingdom to report to the palace that day. When they had gathered, he said, “I have decided to choose one of you to replace me as the next Emperor.” Everyone gasped as he explained, “I am going to give each of you a special seed. A year from today, you must return with what you have grown from this seed. I will then judge what you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the nation!”
In the crowd, a boy named Ling received a seed. He hurried home and told his mother the whole story. She helped him plant the seed and instructed him to water it carefully. Every day he cared for the plant and waited for it to grow.
Three weeks later, some of the youths started to talk about their plants. However, Ling’s seed did not grow. A year passed, and Ling told his mother that he would not take his empty pot to the Emperor. Nevertheless, his mother encouraged him to take his failed seed and to be honest about what happened. Ling felt ruined, but he agreed to go with his container to the palace.
Ling arrived and noticed that everyone’s seed had grown into beautiful foliage. When the King appeared and surveyed the room, Ling hid in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the Emperor.
However, he noticed Ling’s empty pot and ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling shook, terrified of what would happen to him. Then the Emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a unique seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. Nevertheless, I gave you all a boiled seed, which would not grow. Thus, when you found that the seed would not sprout, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with 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!” (Adapted from the story the Emperor’s Seeds.)
Merriam Webster’s Thesaurus interprets goodness as, “a person of such genuine goodness that his friends are inspired to lead better lives.” Someone who displays integrity is a person of character. Goodness is more than kindness; it grows and becomes a cement foundation in which someone’s reputation stands. It does not waiver but remains constant.
Ecclesiastes 7:1a, states, “That a good name is better than a good ointment,” (NASB). In his sermon, “Best is Better than Good,” (linked here) Pastor Rick Holland of Mission Road Bible Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, says, “A good reputation is how we’re known. The mere mention of a name brings to mind a bevy of reputation. Think of Florence Nightingale, Billy Graham, and Jesus; there’s a whole world of thinking when you hear those names. However, when you think of Charles Manson, Stalin, Hitler, think how powerful are those names. Your name represents in the minds of everyone who knows you, everything they know about you. There is nothing more valuable that we own than a good name. It’s humbling.” (paraphrased)
When asked, most people will say they are moral people; they have not murdered, raped, robbed banks, or kicked their neighbor’s dog. However, when left alone, people may watch pornography, lie on their taxes, cheat their bosses of time, and lust after their friend’s spouse. Worst of all, “good people” may malign a friend’s character for no real purpose besides wanting to bring them down a notch. It’s all evil, under the guise of “little sins.”
Fortunately, God understands that we cannot succeed on our own. He aspires us to goodness, by creating us with a conscience that raises red flags when things are wrong and rests when things are good. Therefore, pray as Paul did in Ephesians 3:16, “that He (God) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” (NASB)