April 27, 2009

How do you smell?

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

I was struck with the odd dichotomy presented in Paul's description of how a Christian smells to those around him. If a Christian is living for God, giving evidence of the holy living we have been called to, he will be a pleasing aroma to "those who are being saved," while at the same time being the stench of death to "those who are perishing."

But we should not allow this to impact our behavior too strongly. We should not begin thinking that we're something special because the believers around us enjoy our company. And we should not take it personally and become depressed if non-believers avoid us. Both of these are to be expected.

I think the greater concern for those of us who claim the name of Christ should arise when we are accepted comfortably by non-believers. If we are truly acting as we should, the non-believer should be somewhat uncomfortable with us, unless he is under the wooing influence of the Holy Spirit.

And Christians should find us pleasing, if we are doing what we should. Of course, we may be an unpleasant odor to them too, if they are not seeking Christ's Kingdom but are pursuing their own agenda in the guise of "Christianity."

So, perhaps, each of us who claims the name of Christ should also consider what it means when others who have spoken their commitment to Christ become a foul odor to us (or we to them). Is the foul stench coming from them, or are we, in fact, not truly of the household of faith?


  1. In addition, we can be a foul stench both to other believers and to the world when we aren't walking according to our calling. Let's be sure, as Peter says, that we don't "suffer for doing wrong".

  2. Have you ever tried those Blade Plug In Air Fresheners?

  3. You're right, Mary. And that's what I was trying to get at about the cause for worry should we find that we have become a foul odor to other Christians.

    Tim - I've tried Glade Plug-Ins, which didn't seem to do too much. But since the Bible is self-identified as "the sword of the Spirit," perhaps BLADE Plug-Ins would be a better choice.

    I think you've just given me a great object lesson, should I ever get the chance to teach a Sunday school class on this passage.


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