We had some friends over one evening this past week to share a meal with us. It was a warm, beautiful summer-like evening so we sat out on our deck to eat and the sweet aroma from our lilac bushes was coming our way, brought by a gentle breeze. What an enjoyable setting. A week earlier we loved to go out into our little orchard and take in the beautiful aroma of our apple trees which were in full bloom. It is a real treat this year, because last spring we had only a few blossoms. This season, the trees are loaded with blooms and smell so good. And, of course we look forward to some fruit at the end of the summer, whereas last year we got only two or three apples and a few plums.
I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s second recorded letter to the Corinthians where he wrote this: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His 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” (II Cor. 2:14-15). The picture is of a Roman conqueror leading his captives in triumph. Those captured would be paraded along with the conquering Roman officials and commanding officer in a chariot. The priests would walk behind swinging their censers with the sweet-smelling incense burning in them. To the conquerors the perfume from the censers was an aroma of joy, of triumph, of life. To the captives (who would be executed), that incense had the smell of death about it. Paul gladly considered himself one of Christ’s captives being led in triumph, to the glory of Christ.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle spoke of Christ’s triumph over sin and death, saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:54-58). Our Creator became our Redeemer through coming to earth, taking on a human body, and suffering the death on a cruel cross, but rising again from the dead. In doing so, He defeated Satan (Gen. 3:15 cf Heb. 2:9,14,15), conquered death ( I Cor. 15:20-26), and took the guilt of our sin (I Pet. 2:24; II Cor. 5:21). So, when we, by faith, put our trust in Christ as our personal Deliverer (Savior), we enter into His triumph, and can say with Paul, “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro. 8:37-39). AMEN!! When our heart is captured by the love of God and we believe in Jesus Christ and His atoning work at Calvary, we join the triumphal march of the saints of God, the soldiers of the cross. We become part of the body of Christ, the Church. And when we abide in Christ, our life becomes that “sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” Everywhere we go, we represent the triumph of Christ to those around. To those who respond and trust in Him, it will be the aroma of life; and to those who reject Him it will be an aroma of death.
What kind of “fragrance” is coming from your life? Is it the sweet aroma of Christ in you, or is it the stench of the works of the old, sinful, rotten flesh? Is your life directing people toward faith in Christ or driving them away from Him? Are you marching in the triumph of the victory of Christ over Satan, and sin, and death? In Acts 4:13 we read concerning the testimony of a couple of Jesus’ disciples, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as HAVING BEEN WITH JESUS.” How about you? Do those around you recognize you as “having been with Jesus” or “belonging to Jesus”? As believers, remember, that we are “ambassadors for Christ” and represent Him to the world around us. So, how do you smell?