July 27

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The story is told of an aged Chinese emperor who had no heir to succeed him. He issued an invitation to any young man who wished to be emperor, to come to the palace on a certain day to undergo a certain trial. About 200 young men came. The emperor came out, carrying a large basket full of seed. He gave them this challenge: each man was to take a seed and promise to return in 6 months’ time to show what he had cultivated. The condition was that, no matter what happened, each one must return to the palace in 6 months’ time. One young man named Yan Nan took a seed and carefully sowed it in a plant pot. But after one week there were no green shoots. He realised that the seed must be dead, and dreaded the day when he must return to the palace. The day came and the palace was filled with young men bearing pots with beautiful plants. The emperor inspected each man’s offering, including Yan Nan’s empty pot. At last the emperor announced, to everyone’s shock, that Yan Nan was the winner. The emperor explained that, unbeknown to anyone else, he had baked the seeds in an oven till he was sure that they were all dead! All those who had beautiful plants were liars! The truth is that God pours out rivers of grace on the humble, and passes by the fake displays of false spirituality. The Christian life is not a life of pretence – it is a life of incredible honesty and humility. The wonder is that there is no need to pretend, since God is able to make us abound with fullness of life.