When life gives you lemons give off a refreshing scent

Type “lemon scented” into the google.com Internet search engine and you’ll find over 178,000 sites featuring the phrase!

Apparently, everyone loves the fragrance of lemons! The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. ‘

Paul presents four qualities of Christ-likeness.

Being Christ-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose

I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and prayers of friends and family during Lois and my “dark night of the soul.” We couldn’t have emotionally and spiritually survived without Christ-like people in our lives.

Buried under a load of lemons tends to break our independent spirits. As I mentioned earlier, being tethered to an IV pole does tend to limit our independence. It causes us to humbly look to others for our basic needs: being pushed around in a wheelchair, having your spouse wash your hair, allowing others to take on church responsibilities that you feel you could do much better, etc. And this past summer, while undergoing radiation treatment, I was totally and completely exhausted, so Lois had to mow the lawn.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit

One thing that a load of lemons does is crush our pride and self-promoting spirit. Nothing like books that sell negative numbers to take you down a peg or two! Nothing like losing a client because you have, what my family dubbed, “radiation retardation.”

In humility consider others better than yourselves

Working in Christian publishing for the last thirty years, I’ve been able to meet some of the top authors and editors in the business. Some are prima donnas who demand huge speaking fees, first class air travel, and luxury accommodations. Others willingly fly coach and accept shamefully small honorariums to do what they can for writers and their readers.

Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others, taking the very nature of a servant

On the other hand, while working as editorial director at a Christian publishing house, a missionary found out that one of the top executives was traveling to her city in Africa. She asked if he could bring a box of books with him since she couldn’t afford the overseas shipping. He wrote back, “I’m not a delivery boy.” Somebody needed a delivery of lemons—and it wasn’t the missionary!

Paul writes that “we know that in all things God works” everything for the good of becoming more Christ-like. He has the assurance of this, not simply by faith, but by what he actually experienced. We know this because he doesn’t use one of his favorite words for know, ginosko, which means “to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of.” He uses eido that means to “perceive with the eyes, to perceive by any of the senses.” Rather than intellectual assent or theorizing, Paul has personally experienced God’s working in his life and others. He doesn’t hope. He doesn’t believe. He knows God works this way!

Maybe I’m slowly beginning to know it! And, as I’m buried with the lemons of life, that “lemon-fresh” fragrance of Christ oozes out from under the pile.

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Your Turn

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How can you learn to give off a better fragrance?


by: James Watkins

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jimwatkinsJim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella! He is • author/contributor to over 30 books and over two thousand articles• acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House• conference speaker throughout North America and overseas• editorial adviser for ACW Press• instructor at Taylor University• minister of communications at The River Community Church, and • child of God. The first six titles note what he does, but not who he is. “Whether I succeed or fail in those jobs, I know that my identity is secure in being an unconditionally loved child of God.”

About Be the Light Editor

Martin Wiles is a minister, author, freelance editor, and English teacher who lives in Greenwood, SC. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and is the author of Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.