One year in the Eastern Han Dynasty, there was a serious famine in Henan.
One night, a thief sneaked into Chen Shi’s house and hid himself on the beam. When Chen Shi was aware of this, he got out of bed without haste, called his children and grandchildren to his room and said in a stern voice: “One must always restrain and encourage oneself no matter under what circumstances. Bad men were not born bad. It is only become they don’t restrain themselves that they develop bad habits and turn bad gradually. That gentleman on the beam is just a case in point.”
Much ashamed upon hearing this, the thief hiding on the beam promptly jumped down to the ground, kowtowed and begged for forgiveness.
Chen Shi enlightened him by saying: “Judging from your appearance, you don’t look like a bad man. Perhaps you are driven by poverty to steal. But you should carefully examine yourself and turn over a new leaf.”
Then he immediately asked someone to bring two bolts of white silk to give the thief as a present. The thief kowtowed and thanked him repeatedly.