A few weeks ago, I took one more opportunity to go to the beach before our summer is technically over. The beach… In my last blog post, I began writing about my recent experience at the ocean during the beginning of this summer. Oh, how I needed a refreshing after months of feeling just plain worn out. The atmosphere at the beach is perfect for a time of refreshing. The cool water, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of the powerful waves crashing upon the shore, the wonderful breeze, and the fragrance of the sea air – I was taking it all in as I sat at the edge of the water reading the first two chapters of the book of 2 Corinthians.
In chapter one, Paul is addressing a certain situation that has taken place within the body of believers and sharing his heart concerning that situation as well as the believer’s response to it. He is transparent with the people and lets them know that he is writing out of much affliction and anguish of heart, and with many tears. As Paul shares his own heart, many human emotions are mentioned in these short passages; trouble, tribulation, affliction, suffering, sorrow, anguish of heart, grief, tears, along with having no rest in one’s spirit. Paul states that he and his companions had even experienced burdens that were beyond measure and above strength, burdens so heavy to carry that they had moments when they despaired even life itself.
Any one of us can identify with a few or more of these experiences of the heart. As Christians, we should never pretend that our lives are free of these very human emotions. We should never act like our lives are so perfect that these kind of things never touch us. Paul didn’t pretend. He was real.
In the reading of these passages, we quickly transition into chapter two where we find these very powerful words, “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.” – verse 14
Yes. In all of these things: trouble, tribulation, heart ache, sorrow, grief, heavy burdens, and all of the above, He leads us to triumph. He always causes us to have victory! And if that isn’t enough, even in the midst of these kind of challenges in our lives, He chooses to use us to disperse His tangible presence, and His manifest power everywhere we go.
“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…” – verses 15-16
We are the fragrance of Christ. The Amplified Bible uses words like sweet, discernible, vital, living and fresh, to describe this fragrance. Take a look at this translation and note the question posed in verse 16.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. 15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things?
Now there is a question that needs answering! Who is even qualified to carry and spread such a fragrance?
When we are up under these kinds of trials and dealings within our very own emotions, we don’t always feel like we can do a good job of representing Christ. We don’t always feel very sufficient to represent Him well when we are walking through despair ourselves, but the real credentials for diffusing His fragrance is found in the next verse:
“For we are not, as so many peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity; but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”
Because of a heart that reeks with sincerity, His fragrance is diffused through us. And this sweet-smelling aroma has the potential to become even stronger in us and through us in the most challenging seasons of our lives. Remember that, my friends. Don’t be like the believer who is bent on projecting an image of themselves as having lives that are perfect, families that are perfect, children that are perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect – as if this is what will impact and witness to others. Be real. Be genuine, even in your struggles.
God chooses us, imperfect people who often are going through situations in our own lives that cause us to experience every one of the emotions Paul began to express within those beginning passages. He chooses us to represent Him to the world around us. He chooses us to be carriers of His presence. He anoints us to disperse the sweet fragrance of Christ. And He does it because we are sincere believers, yielded to His purposes in our lives, ready to be an instrument in His hands. -But make no mistake about it, this comes with responsibility.
The Message Bible puts it like this: “Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God.” – And verse 16 goes on to say, “This is a terrific responsibility.”
Indeed, it is a great responsibility. People are watching our walk and they see how we respond to challenges and difficulties. They see our conduct and they listen to our speech. They catch more than a glimpse and even a scent.
Physically, I have a daily routine of cleansing myself. Like all of us, I rise up and shower. I wash my body, my hair and my face. I put on deordorant, fresh clean clothes. I brush my teeth. I do what I do to present myself each day in a way that I don’t stink. I don’t even think about it. I just do it. And when I have sweat all day long or gotten some dirt and mire on myself through this task or that situation, I will go through this same cleansing routine a second time within the same day. I can’t wait to get back in that shower or to change into fresh clothes. I like being fresh and clean! I like to smell nice too. We all do, but do we have a routine or daily habit when it comes to preparing ourselves spiritually so that what we are presenting as Christian people doesn’t stink? Do we make half the effort? What scent is upon us? Is it a sweet-smelling aroma?
What’s that smell? Oh. It’s a brother who is angry and he is telling another brother off. What’s that smell? Oh. It’s a sister who didn’t get her way and is now displaying a bad attitude. She has been hurt or offended and she is now walking in an unforgiving spirit. She is noticeably bitter. What’s that smell? Oh. It is a believer who has decided to retaliate for wrong done to him, rather than leaving it in God’s hands. What’s that smell? Oh. It is sister so-and-so gossiping and slandering even the leaders who are pouring their lives out before her. What’s that smell? Hmm. It’s a believer with a critical spirit, speaking judgemental words…
We are to be the fragrance of Christ. And this is indeed a terrific responsibility.
Let’s prepare ourselves well to carry and disperse the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. Let’s spread the sweet fragrance of Christ no matter what trials strike our lives, no matter what emotions touch our hearts. Diffuse His aroma! Disseminate that vital, life-giving smell. And thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph.
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