2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV)
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
How interesting that Paul uses the concept of smells and the triumph to depict the work of believers in the world. Part of the Roman triumph was the parading of prisoners and victorious generals through the streets. One element of this victory parade was the perfuming of the air.
Paul says that he, and other believers, are used by God in a way that reminds us of the triumph. We travel through the world. And everywhere we go, as we preach the gospel, we change the smell around us. To some people, the preaching of the gospel is the fragrance of life. To some, the message of Jesus smells like death.
Paul asks, “Who is sufficient for these things?” The implied answer is that we are not. God is so much greater than us that we could never be sufficient. We cannot change the world on our own. We lack the ability. I would argue that we cannot change anything for the good without that change being empowered by the Spirit of God for the glory of God. But, such change is the mission of our lives in many ways.
So, Christian, how do you change the smell of the world around you? Do you love your spouse and children if you have such in your life? That changes the world. Do you worship Christ with other believers? That changes the world. Do you show genuine love and kindness to your neighbors? That changes the world. Do you take food to people in need? That changes the world. Do you share the message of Jesus with those who do not know him? That changes the world.
Do note, please, that sharing the message of Jesus smells different to people. To some, it is life. To others, it is hateful and death itself. Our job is not to figure out who will like it and who will hate it. Our job is not to persuade people to change their mind. But, our job is to tell the truth in the world that God put us in. When we see someone receive the message with joy, we know it was the fragrance of life. When we see someone hate the message, we pray for them and trust that God is able to save them by his sovereign power if such is his will.
Lord, I, like many, am not sufficient for the task. However, I pray that you, by your Spirit, will empower me to spread the fragrance of the gospel. Help me love you, love my family, love my church, and love the lost. Help me to speak the truth and spread the gospel. I also ask that you allow me to see more who will receive the message as the fragrance of life.