The Bare Soul
November 13, 2011
II Corinthians 2:14 - But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
Years ago, when I was still in my sin, I remember showing up to work after an "all-nighter." Oftentimes, I would think a little Visine and some mouthwash would take care of any "tell-tale" remnants of the previous night's debauchery. My boss confronted me that particular morning, telling me I reeked of alcohol and cigarettes. He made it very clear this was unacceptable, especially the smell of alcohol. Even though I showered before heading in that morning, my pores still exuded what I copiously dumped into my body the night before. (Fortunately, I was near the end of my self at the time and would soon be turning toward Jesus!) While probably not to the same degree as trying to cover up the smell of stale alcohol, I think it's the same way when smokers believe all they need to do is to continue to chew mints to dispel the odor of smoke. It may work somewhat on their breath. However, the tar and nicotine clings to their clothes and hair causing them to continue to smell like an ashtray. I believe when people are unconcerned with spiritual matters, they tend to dismiss things of this nature in a rather cavalier way. However, for those of us who are either controlled by the Spirit of God, or for those of us who are under the conviction of the Spirit, we understand certain odors as distinguishing marks of the spiritually dead or those alive unto God.
Have you ever considered how we might smell, spiritually, to others? As stated in our lead verse, Paul remarked on spiritual smells and the sweet aroma of Christ in his second letter to the Corinthians. The context is interesting for he precedes his declaration of how we might spiritually smell with his quest to find Titus. We read what Paul has to say in the following passage:
Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? - II Corinthians 2:12-16
It isn't clear how or by what means Paul found Titus in Macedonia. This is a rather large area of nearly 10,000 square miles. Undoubtedly, Paul had some inkling of where Titus might be residing. Notwithstanding, the text doesn't give us any definitive conclusion. However, from the context and Paul's implication, it is easy to surmise that the apostle actually "sniffed" his companion out. Was there a particular scent of the fragrance of Christ wafting from Titus which Paul instinctively followed? Or, were there conversions along the way that his friend had effected in his sojourn, similar to spiritual "bread crumbs", if you will, that led him to his beloved Titus? Consider for a moment Christ's declaration that He was indeed the Bread of Life (John 6:48). Are there any smells more delicious than freshly baked bread? Growing up, many of us can remember that sweet savor filling the house, and often the neighborhood if the windows were open. Imagine a sweet smelling Titus with the sweet aroma of Christ, wafting Jesus' fragrance to all in Macedonia! Surely, some would have accepted the free gift of salvation and would themselves become broken bread for others. In this wise, I believe it is very probable that all Paul needed to do was to follow the scent of newly broken bread of these new converts to the apostolic source of Titus. What a delightful way to find his most trusted friend!
Paul also tells us in these verses how the fragrance of Christ (which exudes from His beloved church) will likewise be an offense to others. While we are an "aroma from life to life" for those who would accept the Lord and His salvation, we are similarly an offense to those who would reject Jesus' message of redemption. Those who are dead in their transgressions and sins are whom Paul speaks of when he states, that to some, we are an "aroma from death to death." The god of this world has not only blinded the eyes of the unbelieving (II Corinthians 4:4), but has also distorted unbelievers' sense of smell. Those whom we repulse upon this earth as having a repugnant odor are the walking dead. These shall inherit the second death which lasts for eternity (Revelation 21:8). They have lost their sense of smell regarding what is the true Bread of Life.
Some will gladly accept our message of salvation and be attracted to the fragrance of Christ within us. Some may resist for a season, having become convinced that what they once thought was a putrid smell is in reality the most beautiful aroma they have ever breathed. Jesus is always there to offer hope to the living. However, we must ask ourselves: What kind of aroma are we emitting? Have we surrendered sufficiently to Christ where our brokenness is apparent to all and the fragrance of the Lord permeates our respective lives? Or, do we still smell of the world and make no lasting impression on anyone for Jesus? I believe having no odor either way is probably the worst situation. We could compare it to being "lukewarm", where the Lord promised to spew these out of His mouth for their lack of conviction (Revelation 3:16). Beloved, if we call ourselves Christians, then we should characterize Christ. There should be constant, sweet aromas that waft from our beings that either attract those ordained for eternal life, or repulse those destined for death. May we be those who smell like fresh baked bread, wafting our aroma to the world. There are many who are hungry for reality, and it is our obligation to feed them Life!
Heavenly Father, may the Bread of Life who lives in those who know and trust You, be as a sweet aroma to a world hungry for reality. May we be broken bread, even as our Lord gave Himself for lost humanity. Grant us this request for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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