Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You Stink!

                Our nose is a powerful tool. It can relish in the fragrances of flowers and spark in us memories from our childhood. An aroma can waft around us, and we find ourselves feeling relaxed and peaceful. Then there are those smells that you wish you could forget. For instance, the smell of rotting trash, or the smell of a mouse that crawled up into your furnace and died over the summer and rotted there until winter, then you decided to turn on the heat and the whole house became filled with the smell of rotted flesh. (Yes, that did happen to me)  Whatever the smell we either like it and want to smell it again, or we hate it and never want to have to experience that foulness ever again. Did you know that you have a smell? Not just a physical smell, but a spiritual smell. Basically, my sisters, you stink.

                “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. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 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?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
               
 When I read these words of Paul this morning, I found myself thinking about walking through the mall. The mall is full of different scents, some good and some not so good. The stores that pump out perfumes that make their way into the common areas, the smell of the food court as lunchtime approaches are some of the good aromas. Then, you have that other smell when you walk by the trash that needs to be changed, or into the restroom where someone has just changed their baby’s diaper. Paul tells us that we too have an odor, that we too have a smell that others sniff. Our fragrance is that which arises from our spiritual condition in regards to our salvation. We give off a fragrance, a smell of Christ as believers.
                Now to some Paul tells us this smells great! But to others is stinks. They are repulsed by it and reject it. The picture that Paul is trying to paint for us is one of a parade. During the time that Paul wrote this epistle the Romans were a conquering nation. After they fought a battle and conquered their enemy, they would hold a parade. In front of this parade there would be censor bearers. They would put the incense into these censors and they would burn them. Before you could see the parade, you would smell it coming. This is how the people knew the war was over and the enemy was defeated.
           
     At the end of the parade there were those who were captured during the battle. They were the prisoners of war. They would walk behind the parade, and the smell of incense would waft over them. This to them was a reminder that they were on their way to death. At the end of the parade, when they would reach the capitol city, these prisoners of war would be put to death, either by crucifixion or by being thrown into the arena to be eaten by the lions. So, to those that were not victorious the smell, the odor was death. But to the Romans it was an odor of life and victory.
                The same can be applied to our spiritual walk. To those that are in Christ, that are Christians, we give off the fragrance of victory. We give off the fragrance of Christ, and it is sweet and good to them. But to those who are not in Christ, we stink. We smell like death. To them the Gospel is a testimony of death. It is not the actual scent that we give off, but the idea that the sweet smelling fragrance of Christ reminds those who do not believe of their own sin. Sin had a distinct odor, it smells like death. When we are around unbelievers, we remind them of their sin and this convicts them. Therefore to them we stink.
                “In the same way, the message of the gospel is a message of life to some and a message of condemnation to those who reject it. The same happens to the present day to those who receive and to those who reject the Gospel. It is the means of salvation to the former; it is the means of destruction to the latter; for they are not only not saved because they do not believe the Gospel, but they are condemned because they reject it.” (Clarke, David Guziak Commentary, Blue Letter Bible)
              
  You are going to either smell good to people or you are going to stink. If you smell good, then people are going to be drawn to you. They are going to ask you what it is that is different about you. Those that are being drawn by God will smell you and smell Christ. Those that are rejecting Christ will smell you and think you stink- not because of you, but because they refuse to believe in Jesus Christ, and their rejection causes them to smell their own sin. When people reject you because of Christ, do not be disheartened, but rejoice. When you are a Christian you are a sweet aroma to God, and He delights in our fragrance. Who cares what others say you smell like. You may stink to some, but to God you smell divine.

                There are going to be those that are going to be drawn to Christ through our fragrance of Him, but then there are going to be others that are repulsed and run away. The sweet savor of the knowledge of Christ strikes every sense we have, and all will feel the power of the gospel of Christ; either to life or to death. You just focus on being that sweet aroma to God, and let Him take care of the ones who say you stink. Amen and Amen.