Centuries ago in China a teacher would call one of his students to the front of the room. He would hold out both hands and explain to the chosen student that one hand held a valuable gold coin and the other was empty. He would invite the chosen student to choose one hand or the other. If the student chose the coin, he would be allowed to keep it. But if he chose the empty hand, the teacher would strike the boy with his clenched fist. If the student decided not to choose at all, he could return to his seat.
This ritual was practiced each day in the teacher’s classroom. Because the students knew of the teacher’s strength and skill as a fighter, they were afraid to make a choice. They knew that to be hit by him would really hurt.
On the rare occasion that a student would choose a hand, the teacher would ask, “Are you sure?”
As the student looked more closely at the teacher’s hard fist and even harder scowl, he would invariably change his mind and hurry back to his seat.
Finally, Chin was called to the front of the room. Chin’s father had died in the wars five years before and his family was having trouble getting by. Chin needed that gold coin.
The instructor held out his fists. Chin studied both hands for a long time. His classmates stared at him, expecting him to simply return to his seat as each of them had done. Finally Chin pointed to the teacher’s left fist.
“Are you sure?” the instructor asked.
“Would you like to forget about your choice and return to your seat?”
Chin shook his head no.
The instructor’s fist shot out and struck Chin squarely on the chin, knocking him to the floor.
Chin lay on the floor looking up at his teacher in a daze. Then the instructor turned both fists over and revealed that each of them held a gold coin.
“You can not expect anything for free,” the teacher told his class. “There is a price that comes with everything.”
The teacher helped Chin to his feet, smiled, and placed the gold coins into his hand. He never repeated the exercise again.
People today are afraid to make choices. Like the students in the classroom, they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of pain. They are afraid of commitment. They are afraid that it might cost them something.
Life is full of choices. And contrary to popular belief, the best things in life are not free. They are always costly—but worth it.
The Bible sets before us some very clear choices:
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
Do you have the courage to step out from the crowd and choose the way that offers the greatest reward?
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
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- Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021Help us, O Lord, to conquer all harshness of judgement with your gentleness; to quench all meanness of spirit with your generosity and to defeat all indifference of compassion with your fervour. Teach us to be courageous in loving, patient in suffering and attentive in prayer; through Christ our Lord. Amen. Clement XI (1649-1721)Creator God, in […]
- Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021