The Empty Pot

The Empty Pot

(Summary of an ancient Chinese tale. Originally recorded by Demi.)

A story is told in China of a young boy named Ping. He loved flowers and whatever he grew would always blossom into a beautiful flower. In the kingdom where Ping lived, the emperor had no son, and he needed a successor. The emperor, who also loved gardening, distributed flower seeds to boys throughout the kingdom. Whoever grew the most beautiful flower from his seeds would become the next emperor. Ping carefully planted the seed from the emperor in a pot with rich soil. He watered and cared for the seed, but nothing happened.

Other boys planted their seeds and had blooming flowers in their pots. They laughed and taunted Ping who still had just an empty pot. Ping changed the soil and fertilized it with dried fish, but to no avail. Finally, the day arrived when the plants were to be taken to the emperor. Amidst the excitement, Ping was despondent, for he still had an empty pot. His father reminded him that he had done his best and he needed to present it to the emperor.

The children of the kingdom arrived at the palace with all their beautiful flowers. The emperor examined the boys’ plants with a scowl on his face. He frowned even more deeply when he saw Ping’s empty pot. “You brought me an empty pot!” he exclaimed. Ping hung his head and said, “I’m sorry, Emperor. I tried to grow the seed you gave me, but nothing came up.”

The emperor stroked his chin and smiled. Then he said to the people, “May I introduce you to the new emperor. You see, the seeds were cooked so they would not grow. I’m not sure how the rest of you grew plants, but they didn’t grow from my seeds. He has been honest and noble.”

The moral is clear. When we are honest, we will sometimes stand alone amidst pressure from those around us. It may seem that honesty will cause problems, and there may appear to be a better route. However, when the pot is empty, maintain your integrity, for our heavenly Father will reward you in due time.