“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. II Corinthians 2:14-15
My Uncle Walter used to smoke cigars. As a child, he was the only person I knew who smoked cigars, so it was a unique – if not odd – aroma to me. Whenever I smelled cigar smoke, I thought he was nearby. I remember one time in particular when I was at a school football game to hear my older brother play in the marching band. I smelled cigar smoke and distinctly remember looking everywhere for my uncle, to no avail.
When we think of aromas, usually it’s with a pleasant memory of sweet scents—flowers, fresh air, perfume, home cooking, coffee brewing, or whatever each of us loves to have pass by our noses.
Cigar smoke is probably not what we would call a pleasant aroma but in my childlike mind it was, since it was attached to my uncle, whom I love. Not too long ago, I shared this with my now 94-year old uncle and he laughed heartily saying he was glad he quit smoking years ago.
According to Scripture, “we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” How are we to be this pleasing aroma? Certainly this has nothing to do with scents that may be associated with our presence but more about the Christian testimony that is present in our lives.
My hope is that my life leaves a sweet memory in people’s lives; when something reminds them of me, they will look around only to find it wasn’t about me, but about the message of the love of Christ. About passing on this love and sharing what Christ did for each of us.
Thinking back on the people who had the most impact on my faith, I remember demonstrated in each person the things listed in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
Years ago I wrote a song about this Scripture. One verse goes:
“The fruits of the spirit are a gift from our God,
We must be willing to receive the blessings of the heart.
Just close your eyes and say to him,
‘Let me be your own,’
and our loving God will hear you and you’ll never be alone.
Love and joy, grace and peace—
The world will not receive us but we still must let it shine…”
All my life, I have never been alone. God has sent people into my life to be his sweet aroma; to spread the Good News in front of me. But it was up to me to receive it, learn, and grow from it. I decided to be “one being saved” instead of “one of those who are perishing.” In the same light, I want everyone in my life to be “one being saved” as well.
We can decide today how we are going to be “the pleasing aroma of Christ” and what will linger when we are gone, either from a place or from this life on earth.