Focus: Living honestly
Proverbs 10:9 (NKJV) He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.
There is a simple but complex little story I learned as a young child that makes an important point where honesty is concerned. It is called, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, adapted by Hans Christian Anderson. I will paraphrase it.
There once was an Emperor who was all caught up in himself and his power. He loved fine things and always wanted to appear wiser than anyone. He hired two swindlers posing as tailors, who promised to create for him the finest, best suit of clothes, from a fabric that was supposedly only visible to people who were truly wise. In other words, anyone who couldn’t see the fabric would be considered unfit for his position or ‘hopelessly stupid’.
Of course, the Emperor couldn’t see the cloth, but pretended he could because he was afraid of appearing as though he was not wise enough to be worthy of his position. Naturally, his court advisors did the same.
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As the story progresses, the day finally arrives when the swindler/tailors announce that the Emperor’s suit is finished. They arrive at the palace and pretend to dress him for a very important procession before his subjects, who also play along as though the Emperor’s new clothes are amazingly beautiful.
During the presentation, a child in the crowd who is too young to understand the willingness of adults to participate with pretense innocently declares that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all. Others in the crowd begin to speak out, agreeing with the child.
The Emperor secretly fears that what is being said is true, yet he continues with the procession.
This story, though not taken from the Bible, carries several profound truths. Probably the most obvious lesson to be learned is that when our intentions are not honest—we are only fooling ourselves by passionately trying to appear wise.
One spiritual application could be that through selfish motives we allow ourselves to become comfortable with worldly ways and worldly people. Our own willful deception causes us to want to impress the wrong ones.
James 4:1-6 (NKJV), makes a worthy statement: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
In the Emperor’s attempt to appear wise, he became a fool. Even though others readily recognized his error, he was still unwilling to admit the truth because of his pride.
Another application of The Emperor’s New Clothes could be made in the area of our desire for acceptance. Sad to say, we often forget what is important and become deceived by our own thoughts and intents. We compromise the standards of righteousness—for fear of being rejected by people we want to impress.
Acceptance by God is the most important consideration in this life. He is displeased with people who operate in pride. He is able to give unmerited favor to people who are humbly willing to admit their weaknesses and errors.
Proverbs 3:7 (NKJV) says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”
Declaration: I will find new strength by admitting my weaknesses and errors. I will stop trying to impress people.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.