How Do You Smell?
Paul ends 2 Corinthians 2 with an interesting example of the influence of the follower of Jesus to the world around him/her. He writes: 14 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. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 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. Science has proven the power of smell, with some claiming that smell is the most powerful sense we have, especially in terms of memory. We’ve all been in a room when someone walks in with an overpowering scent, whether it is pleasant or not. Ever have a dog that has been sprayed by a skunk walk into your room…it’s very powerful!
Paul is comparing the follower of Jesus to an aroma or a scent. In verse 14 we are told that the follower of Jesus is a powerful scent, an aroma that “diffuses the fragrance of Christ’s knowledge in every place. What an interesting picture of the potential power of Christ’s presence in His followers. We can fill the room with the knowledge of Christ. That is an incredible privilege. He then goes on to say that to those who are being saved, the followers of Jesus are an aroma of “life”, a pleasant aroma. To those who are not followers of Jesus, those who are perishing, we are an aroma of death. The fragrance is the same but it is being perceived as something vastly different depending on the receiver. Sort of like how the smell of liver and onions brings joy to some but to others it smells terrible. It’s the same smell, but it is received differently. We don’t have the ability to determine how our “smell” is received. It’s not your fault if your witness for Jesus is rebuffed or if you are persecuted for smelling like Jesus. However, we have a responsibility to be the fragrance of Christ, the privilege to “give off” the aroma of love, peace, joy, patience, wisdom, etc…that come from Jesus. So, how do you smell?