II CORINTHIANS 2:14-16: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” NKJV
OBSERVATION: What is that smell? Have you ever been captivated by an odor? Perhaps it is as you walk through a garden and catch the breeze wafting a sweet fragrance of a flower that you have never smelled. Or, perhaps is a pungent odor that captures you unaware and all you can do is meet it with a stank face!
Smelling is one of our strongest senses. Just the hint of smell can bring back memories and previous experiences. When I was young our family would take a yearly trip from California to Michigan. Back then, we did not have air conditioning in our car. My mother would fill a cooler with ice water and dip wash rags in it for us to cool ourselves with. When we got to the hotel each night and our car sat overnight in the heat, there was an odor in the car in the morning. It was mildew. To this day, when I catch a scent of mildew, it takes me right back to our yearly family vacations.
This is also true about the emotional experiences we have in life. They leave an odor. It is not an odor that is sensed by our noses. Rather, it is an odor that is picked up by our soul and spirit. Paul focuses on this when he says,
- “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”
In Romans 12, Paul calls us to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to God. He calls this our spiritual service. When the sacrifices of the Old Testament were offered the Scriptures many times reference them as a sweet-smelling aroma to God. God sees the commitment and sacrifice of our lives to Him as a continual sweet-smelling aroma. However, the world sees it as something entirely different.
Have you ever wondered why someone can smell something and greet it with a smile, while another person smells the same thing and they greet it with a stank face? This usually has more to do with the experience that is tied to that smell than the smell itself. Some people greet the smell of certain foods with joy and anticipation. Others reject the same smell with the memories of their previous encounter and distaste.
So many times, as believers, we wonder why the world looks at our testimony with a stank face. We rejoice in the truth of God’s Word. We share in the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We find our joy in the presence and worship of Almighty God. We smell the sweet aroma of life. Yet, the same experiences are rejected with vehemence, anger, and hatred by our world. Why?
It is because what we sense as life – they sense as death!
To those who are called, chosen by God, our testimony is the hope of eternal life, the invitation to meet the Savior, and the source of joy and strength. Yet, to those who reject God’s Word, who harden their heart to the grace of God, who love sin more than the light – our message is the confirmation of their judgment. It is not that we are preaching fire and brimstone. It is simply that we are living and shining the light of God’s truth and love.
- “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:19-21 NKJV
So, what do we do? Do we hide our fragrance? Do we retreat because others reject our message? Absolutely not! We are called to be a pleasing aroma to God and to those who are called to life. It is the aroma of the love of God that calls the sinner to salvation. We need to shine brightly in a darkened world. We need to allow our fragrance to go forth so that those who are called to salvation may hear, may smell, may see, and find their way to Jesus Christ!
Paul ends these thoughts with this statement – “And who is sufficient for these things?” We cannot save anyone. We cannot change anyone’s heart. We are only called to allow the fragrance of life to go forth from our lives and leave the rest up to God. It is the Holy Spirit who leads the wandering heart to the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord!
- “And when He (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11 NKJV
Lord, forgive me for pulling back when other’s have rejected my life or my testimony. Give me the grace to live a fragrant life of Your love, truth, and grace. Grant me boldness to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all. When this testimony is not received, help me to endure the attacks, and walk in the assurance that Your Word will not go out void. Its aroma will reach those whom You have called and chosen!
In Jesus Name!