05 July 2015
Reading: 2 Corinthians 2; Psalm 5
15 Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing. 16 To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NLT)
Have you ever been in a crowded elevator on a very hot day and found yourself standing next to a person who apparently was not a frequent bather and who hadn’t discovered deodorants? Have you ever been standing with a co-worker in a hall-way conversation when a classy lady wearing an expensive and appropriate perfume walked past? Both very notable olfactory experiences—one repelling and repulsive and the other pleasant and inviting.
Here’s what I think Paul is saying to me in these verses: Living the Christ-life in this fallen world is like wearing a very distinctive perfume. We Christians are not the “normal people” and we shouldn’t be surprised if the way we “smell” attracts the attention of those around us.
Paul says that people will react or respond to our aroma not merely according to how we are, but according to how they are! If they’re on the pathway of greed, selfishness, arrogance, and hate, we stink to high heaven! If they’re on the life-path of humility and hunger for God, we are wearing the Perfume of Life!
So what about us? We simply need to make sure the smell we’re giving off is the sweet smell of gracious, loving humility and not the acrid stench of arrogant self-righteousness. Then let the gentle breezes blow our perfume into the nostrils of everyone we meet. After all, it doesn’t require a lot of effort for a rose to smell like a rose!
Father, Paul’s metaphor of fragrance or stench, perfume or poison, really speaks to me today. May I, and may my friends who read this today, not stink up the place with selfishness, judgmentalism, and self-righteousness. May we fill our places with the sweet fragrance of compassion, love, and humility. May the open-hearted be drawn to you by the Fragrance of Grace! For Jesus’ sake! Amen.