If I’m correctly applying what I’m reading this morning, then I have an odor. If, what Paul says concerning himself is also true of me, than I emit a particular scent. Not a literal aroma (though some of us do), but a spiritual emanation. Not one picked up by one of our five senses. But one that registers before the throne of God. So, I guess the question I could be asking this morning is, “How do I smell?”
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
(2Corinthians 2:14-15 ESV)
In describing his ministry, “to preach the gospel of Christ” (2:12), Paul likened it to God diffusing, or manifesting, “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” The knowledge of God has a certain “air” about it. It possesses a distinctive savor, a particular aroma.
For some, those who have eyes to see and hears to hear (and, I guess, noses to smell), the fragrance is very attractive. It draws them to the Source. Creates a desire to fill themselves with the enticing aroma of the love and grace of God as shown in and through His Son. For others, though, it is a distasteful smell. It repels them. It is the smell of death (2:16). A foul odor that causes them to hold their noses and seek escape. But, regardless how it was received, Paul saw himself as a vehicle through which God emitted the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself.
But not only did Paul see himself as having a fragrance to those around him, but, led by the divine authorship of the Spirit, Paul writes that He also had a certain bouquet before God. That to God he possessed the aroma of Christ. Different Greek word used here. While a general term for savor or odor is used in verse 14–we emit a certain odor which is the knowledge of God–in verse 15 the word is literally “a sweet smell” or a “sweet savor.” It’s the same descriptor attached to the Old Testament sacrifices, a thing well-pleasing to God.
So Paul saw himself emanating a particular scent both to those around him and to heaven itself. For those encountering it on earth, it was either a life-giving aroma or, it had the stench of judgment and death upon it. But to those who picked it up in the heavenlies, it was a sweet smelling savor. The God who saved Paul and called him to represent the kingdom of heaven could breathe deep and take in the wonderful aroma of a life given to sacrificial service for the One who saved him. God detecting that Paul had put on the aromatic nuance of His Son, the One who “loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2).
So I gotta ask myself, “How do I smell?”
What kind of scent am I emitting to those around me? What are they picking up in the air when I’m around. Is it fresh and alive, and gospel-scented? Or, is it kind of stale, more like moldy religion?
And how about the God who so loves me? What’s He picking up? Is He breathing deep of that sweet smelling savor of sacrifice? The sacrifice of a life surrendered on the altar? (Rom. 12:1) The sacrifice of praise, the fruit of my lips offered in constant thanksgiving and praise? (Heb. 13:15)
Sounds a bit intimidating to be asking such questions, doesn’t it? Yeah! To Paul too!
Who is sufficient for these things? (2Corinthians 2:16b ESV)
Not us. At least not on our own.
While we can seek to cultivate the right mix of ingredients which might result in a pleasant and enticing perfume, God is the Perfumer. He takes the unique composition of “ingredients” we willing give to Him, and He works it to create a spiritual, one of a kind, “Designer” fragrance for us to wear. The ingredients we bring to the table are mixed with His grace and enhanced by His Spirit and are turned into an aroma worn for His glory.
Might we beware of the fragrance we emit. Might we desire to be a sweet smelling savor! That those we come in contact with would pick up on a certain scent coming off us. Something not quite of this world. Something that hints of the God who so loved the world. And, might we continually be an aromatic offering ascending to the throne. That God would detect the fragrance of His Son on us.
An aroma infused by grace. An aroma worn for His glory.