It has been said that a colored pastor announced to his
congregation, "This is my text for today: 'If somebody gives you alemon,
make lemonade' ".
And I might add, You can't make a lemonade without sugar. And, furthermore, if
you make a lemonade share it with others.
Three decades ago, when one found himself in a sour or unpleasant situation,
it was said, "He has been handed a lemon". So the colored brother
merely meant, "If you find yourself in a situation that is unpleasant,
turn it into an opportunity to do something that will bring
pleasure--something that is useful". And what I mean, is, You can't do
this without sweetness in your disposition. And, furthermore, try, under such
circumstances, to serve, not yourself, alone, but also your fellow.
Some time ago I missed a bus connection at a certain city, and was forced with
the unpleasant situation of having to spend three hours. I believe that all is
of God, and I feel sure that I was stranded there because God wanted me to be
there. It has been said that if you believe that all is of God you will be
able to find God in everything. There is no truer saying. I turned at once to
the job of finding what God had for me to do there. Soon I found a man who
needed me very much, for he was in a troubled state of mind about some members
of his family. God enabled me to say the correct thing to him, and when I left
him he was happy. And you may be sure I was happy, also--much more so than if
I had not missed the bus.
I read of a woman who was forced to go to a hospital. When her pastor visited
her, she said, "I wonder what God has for me to do there". If she
had not believed that all is of God, she would have been fretting, thinking
that, now, she would be hindered from doing the Lord's work. But she felf sure
that the work of the Lord for her to do, was right there in the hospital.
I recall four weeks I spent in a hospital five years ago. I did not doubt, nor
have I doubted since, that God had just as much use for me in the hospital, as
He ever had for me in the pulpit. The question was, What is the work? I soon
found that it was to magnify His grace in my conversation with the doctors and
nurses. The physician was so much impessed, that he asked, "Do you live
by faith?" When I answered in the language of the scripture, "The
just shall be living in his faith", he said, with a deep longing, "I
wish I knew how to do that". I feel sure that God has showed him how.
God enabled Joseph to make quite a bit of lemonade when he was handed a very
big lemon. In jail he trusted God, and was prepared for the great and
necessary task of storing up food and afterwards distributing it to others.
Banished from his people--a very sour lemon, indeed--Moses was prepared by the
Lord, to afterwards face the anger of Pharaoh, and, finally to lead the
Israelites out of bondage.
In the cave, hiding grom the wrath of Saul, David gave advice and counsel to
those poor people who gathered to him there.
Daniel, kept for seventy years a captive in Babylon, was worth immeasurably
more to the great kingdoms which held him, than all the free men in the realm.
Yes, and his writings are of inestimable value to us today, while millions of
free men have existed without bequeathing anything of real value to mankind.
Did I say "free men"? DANIEL was the FREE one--free to make lemonade
of the huge lemon that was handed to him, (and he had plenty of sugar to
sweeten it), while those who thought themselves free, were slaves to that
which rendered them unable to bless themselves and mankind.
One of the biggest explosions that ever occurred to me, was when my Pharisee
bubble burst. I was so "good" that I could not tolerate many people.
I could see the faults of others, and it was no trouble to talk about them. I
was too "good" to fellowship with numbers of saints, and my
magnifying glass was constantly picking out their faults, and telling about
them was one of the sweetest morsels that I ever tasted.
Before I knew it I was precipitated into a fault, and the humiliation and
astonishment was almost more than I could bear. Yes, the bubble burst with a
terrific explosion that, figuratively speaking, set me to rocking on my
foundations. I, who, yesterday, had seen myself as the best person in the
community, now regarded myself as one of the most depraved. Nor have I ever
been able to regain my self-confidence.
After I had taken time to "get my bearings", I saw that it was one
of the best things that has ever "happened" to me. But, what a lemon
it was! I began, immediately, to make a lemonade. My humiliation made me love
others--everybody! This love provided the sugar--the sweetness of disposition.
I found solace in the fact that he who cried "God, be propitiated to me,
the sinner", went down justified to his home, rather than the one who
thought he had no faults. I now saw that the majority of people were as good
as I. This gave me a tender feeling for all who fall under their load because
of weakness. This, in turn, made me gracious in my attitude toward all erring
ones. And for years I have been making lemonade from this huge lemon, and
literally thousands have been comforted by the tenderness thus generated in my
Was I worse after my humiliation than I was before? Far from it! I was better.
An unbeliever can be unfeeling and proud. He can be intolerant. He can kick
out the one who errs. If I want to be like an unbeliever, it is not good. But
I found that the way to be like Christ, is to have such pity that I can say to
the erring one, "Neither do I condemn you." just as the blessed Lord
I am still making lemonade from this lemon. I am sure that it will last all my
life. And I don't want it to be otherwise. Let the humiliation last!
In all your life, have you ever heard a saint ask whether or not he should
continue to live with his wife, because she is an unbeliever? Have you ever
heard a saintly wife ask such a question concerning her husband? There is no
reason to think the saints in Corinth asked such a question. It was generally
understood that Paul's teachings was different from the law. Provision in the
law was made for the divorcing of an unfaithful wife. In Greek,
"unfaithful" and "unbelieving" are identical. It is
natural that the saints should wish to know what Paul had to say on this
subject. Shall the faithful mate continue to live with the unfaithful one?
Paul says, "Yes, if the unfaithful one desires to stay", I Cor.
7:12-15. If this is not the subject under consideration, why should the
question of the cleanness of the children arise? No one would suppose that the
children of a man who is a believer and a woman who is an unbeliever, are
unclean. But this question might well arise in case one of the parents is
unfaithful to the marriage relation. Paul settles it.
I had occasion, some time ago, to talk with a man who was taking the message
to a husband who had put away his wife. I told him to tell the husband that in
putting her away, he had done what any unbeliever might do, when his pride was
wounded. And, in doing so, he had done RIGHT, so far as I could see. But it is
my policy to ask saints to do MORE than right. To do so, is not to do what one
OUGHT to do; it is to do what one has the PRIVILEGE of doing. Graciousness is
not a duty; it is a privilege. To take the wife back, would be to do, not as
the world does, but as Christ did, when He said, "Neither do I condemn
you". My consciousness of my faults and failures impel me to give this
advice, based on what I regard as the words of Paul in I Cor. 7:12-15. For,
while my faults might be different from that of someone else, they are faults,
nevertheless. And knowing my faults is a lemon. But I use this consciousness
to made a lemonade for others.
The sweetest lemonade Paul ever made was after he had been handed a lemon of
imprisonment. For two years he was in chains in Rome, and it was during this
time that he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, II Timothy, Philippians, and
Philemon. These comprise the highest teachings ever given to man.