Personally, I try my hardest to be a person that smells good. I don’t want any kind of odor from me to be a bother to you. I bathe regularly, wear deodorant, and, on occasions, will spray a little cologne on my neck. The point to all of this is: smells are a powerful thing. The slightest smell can trigger a memory from your childhood or bring to your mind a specific person. There are times that a stench can repel us and make our stomachs turn.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul makes the comparison of preaching the gospel to the power of smell.
Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 2:12-17
God’s plans for the preaching of the gospel are not always what we have in mind. God will open doors in some places and close doors in others. But Paul gives thanks in all circumstances that God chooses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ everywhere (verse 14). There are four times that Paul describes the message of Jesus as a smell (bolded words above). He uses words like “aroma” and “fragrance” to help us make a connection to the scent of a sacrifice offered to God. This word is littered throughout the Greek translation of the Old Testament to describe the sacrificial offerings presented to God in worship. Most times the word aroma is used in the Old Testament it is coupled with the word “smoothing”. When we transform our lives by the gospel, we become the sweet-smelling fragrant aroma pleasing to God.
It is not only God that smells this soothing aroma that permeates our land. The entire world can breathe in the smell of the gospel in our lives. However, some do not like the smell. To those who are offended by the message of Christ, the smell is revolting. These people smell death. To those that are being saved, they smell life. There is no neutral ground. Our work is to be diligent in fanning the soothing aroma all around our world. Let the message be fully proclaimed!
Paul concludes this thought with a challenge. He asks, “Who’s up to the task?” Certainly not those who preach to their own benefit. Nor those whose preaching is lackadaisical or ineffective. (I’m not talking about those who preach, and it falls on deaf ears. I’m talking about those who preach and half-heartedly prepare and present.) Only those grounded in Christ and His call to preach with vigor and determination are up to the task. Remember, it is God’s work, not ours, and we are all called to preach. We are simply the royal censer in God’s hands.
Today, we need to be reminded to be a pleasing soothing aroma to God and diligent proclaimers of Christ to the world. How do you smell?
I love you,