2 Corinthians 2:15-16a – For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. (NIV)
I was delighted when a friend returned from vacation in Florida and presented me with a large seashell. I immediately put it to my nose. Most people would put it to their ear, listening for the sea. But I am hard of hearing, and to put something against my hearing aid results in feedback, a high-pitched squeal that is startling. I knew that I wouldn't hear the sea, imaginary or otherwise. But could I smell it? I took a good sniff.
Whether or not there was a subtle salt-water smell, my imagination immediately transported me to a sandy beach. I pictured a turquoise ocean, hot sun, palm trees flapping in the breeze. I gently swayed in a hammock and sipped a cold drink from half a coconut with a tiny paper umbrella — a welcome scene on a cold, snowy day! No other gift could have brought me so much pleasure.
Coconut also connects me to pleasant sunny days. My toiletries contain coconut oil. I burn candles with the same fragrance. When I loaned my watch to my daughter in college, each time she leaned her chin on her hand she received a mental picture of me. Eventually, she realized that it was because my signature scent was embedded in the watch.
I have another identifying fragrance, too. A Christian carries the recognizable scent of Jesus. We Christians embrace it, and it often causes us to recognize a kindred spirit in someone we've never met before. On the other hand, it's offensive to non-believers. We smell like death to them.
Though we're unable to smell it physically, this spiritual aroma is the fragrance of an offering. We have come to the cross and put our old self to death. God is making us new, in the likeness of His Son. On earth, Jesus spent much of His life surrounded by clouds of incense and animal sacrifices that smelled like a barbecue. His own body was anointed with myrrh, spices, and perfumes. As we grow closer and become more like Jesus, we adopt this scent, a sweet smell to God.
Have you ever met someone and immediately felt rejected? Did you wonder what you could possibly have done to offend? The answer is that they can smell you, and they don't like the picture that it brings to mind. But the apostle Paul tells us that "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10 NIV). Don't be dismayed if you are rejected. We can be assured that Jesus' life is at work in us.
2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who … through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, use us to spread Your fragrance around the world so that others can know You. Amen.
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