We’ve all experienced it. Our nostrils collide with a foul odor, a stench. Perhaps it’s the spray of a skunk…the incubator of a teenager’s room…the unplanned science experiment hidden among the 12 food containers in our fridge.
We grimace and cringe…we turn our heads…we plug or cover our noses.
And other times we catch the wafting of an aroma as it floats under our noses. Perhaps it’s freshly-baked cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning…spring wildflowers carpeting the field we walk by…a baby recently bathed and massaged in lotion.
We lean in…we inhale deeply…we follow and search to find the source.
II Corinthians 2:14-17
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.”
This Scripture compels the intentional Believer to consider the fruit of his or her life: Am I the radiance and compassion of Christ that is a fragrant aroma to God and other believers? Am I sharing the fullness of God’s Word through the overflow of my heart, intentionality of will through the words and actions of my life…even to those who will reject it and find it a stench because it confronts their life outside of Christ? Or, conversely, are my life’s words and actions a stench to God because they sound and look like the world…impulsive, self-serving, and divisive?
God chooses to lead us “in triumphal procession in Christ” to spread the knowledge and compassion of His Word, which is a fragrance. It is an aroma to God, an aroma to Believers, and a scent that can “grow on” unbelievers who allow it to permeate their soul.
Picture in your mind an old-school oil diffuser. This is a glass or ceramic container that holds aromatic oil. In order to diffuse and dispense the concentrated aroma to permeate the surrounding atmosphere, bamboo sticks are submerged at one end into the oil while the other end extends beyond the height of the container. The oil is contained until absorbed into the sticks (vessels) where it then moves up the extent of the stick until the aroma is released into the surrounding area. Oil must be intermittently added to the vase to keep the aroma constant. However, if oil is not added, it is eventually used up and evaporated, and the sticks become dry…no longer releasing an aroma. The sticks may even be removed and the bottle capped off to seal the oil and keep its aroma from escaping.
What a poignant illustration of the Christian! We are jars of clay in the Potter’s hand, to be molded as He sees fit for His purposes…not one of us is identical…all are created for different and individual purposes to work together in unity with other Believers. Some are more ornate than others, smaller than others, shaped differently than others, but all are equally valued and loved by our Creator...designed and fitted and filled for His specific purposes. The oil of His Spirit is in us as Believers…an aroma and fragrance that is meant to be shared with others. Through this illustration, we come to three prevalent conditions of the Christian’s life today:
1. Saturated Spirit: The sticks of your life (thoughts, motives, words, actions) are drenched with the continued supply of His Spirit and His Word, which releases the aroma of Christ to those around you, both those who are living and those who are dying.
2. Stagnant Spirit: You have not been growing in your relationship with God, and the oil in your vase has ceased to be replenished; thus the sticks of your life (thoughts, motives, words, actions) are dried up and not an aroma to God’s nostrils or a refreshment to others.
3. Seditious Spirit: You have removed your sticks (thoughts, motives, words, and actions) that are vessels of His fragrance and have capped off the oil…closing yourself off from the flow of His Word and sharing with others.
Consider your condition today. Take inventory of the oil in your soul as evidenced (or not) in your life. Open up and yield yourself to be poured into so that you are a saturated vessel for His presence…a fragrance of love and grace in a culture-stench of animosity and division. Go. Be the aroma of God.
Learning and growing with you ~