A Tale of Two Scents
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 - 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?
Here’s an Odd Question
How do you smell today? That’s a strange thing to ask someone. There are times when I smell rather pleasant, if I say so myself, like when I’m out on a date with my wife. There are other times when I’m quite sure I have smelled pretty awful to anyone within a country-mile of me, like after working in the yard all day or after a long walk on a hot and humid Florida morning.
But there is another smell that every true follower of Jesus Christ has. It is the aroma of Christ himself. Indeed, we are dressed in his garments and they give off his glorious fragrance. But sadly, this aroma doesn't smell the same to everyone.
The Fragrances of Life and Death
To those who “have put on” Christ, as well as those who are making their way to him to be fitted with his robe of righteousness, we are the “fragrance of life.” Only in Christ is there life – real life – for he is the author and sustainer of life and it is he who makes all things new. Those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and noses to smell, know the difference between life and death, and they want life.
However, in the nostrils of others there is a rotten, filthy stench about us. To those who are perishing in their own pride, wisdom, and efforts, we smell like death, for our very odor bears testimony to the One whom they have rejected, the One from whom they have fled.
The fragrance of Christ smells repugnant to them. They have grown accustomed to the foul smell of death that comes from the fallen and sinful patterns of this world and have found that fragrance normal, even pleasant. Paradoxically, life smells like death to them, and vice versa.
Love for Our Neighbors
We could sit in judgment of them, looking down our noses at them. Or, we could have compassion on them for their self-inflicted predicament. We should, of course, remember how terrible Christ once smelled to us, even if we didn’t know it and never would have said so.
I think the beauty of our own scent ought to bring forth humility, gratitude, and service on our part, for our scent is not our own, but Christ’s. Once we remember this we will know there is no time for judgmental hearts or mere pity. Instead, love for our neighbors should move us to awaken those who are running from (or simply
oblivious to) the sweet smell of real life – life in Christ and his beautiful fragrance.
Merciful Redeemer, you sought me, found me, and moved me from death to life. You have clothed me in the righteousness of Christ so that I am adorned in his clothing and have new life in him. My fragrance is his. I can only boast in him. I once was lost but now am found. I once was only able to discern in him the scent of death. Now I know it was (and is) the aroma of real, abundant, and everlasting life. I pray, holy Father, that you would give me the same compassion for those who do not know you, as you have for them. The same compassion you have for me! Help me resist the temptation to judge them for their outright rejection of you, their rebellion against you, and even their willful ignorance. Let my life always be consistent with the aroma of life that comes from you. And enable me to speak words of life that help them desire to be clothed in your righteousness as well. In Christ I pray. Amen.
This Week’s Prayer Guide
[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]
Petitions – prayers for yourself
· Lord, help me to faithfully participate in the life of my congregation and for the sake of my community…
Ø By my prayers
Ø By my presence
Ø By my gifts
Ø By my service
Ø By my witness
· Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
· Other needs
Intercession – prayers for others
· My family
· For those who serve in government, at the national, state, and local levels
· For those who serve in law-enforcement
· For those who serve in fire and rescue
· For those who serve in our nation’s military
· Other needs
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