WHAT DO YOU SMELL LIKE?
Lord, use us in Your vineyard.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 2:12—3:6
Ministers of the New Covenant
12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.
14 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. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
God “uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14b).
The idea of being a sweet-smelling fragrance or “aroma” (2:14,15) is a powerful—we might say pungent—one. Paul draws from the rich imagery surrounding the Old Testament sacrifices, where burnt offerings were often said to give off a “pleasing aroma” to the Lord (e.g., Gen. 8:21; Lev. 3:5). As we give ourselves to God daily as “living sacrifices,” we too carry the fragrance of the one true God, who reveals himself perfectly through his Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 12:13). I was recently in an all-age service based around verses 14–16. As we left, we were each given a small bag of aromatic spice to remind us to be the aroma of Christ wherever we go. I kept mine with me in my pocket long after it ceased to have any fragrance. It helped me to remember as I go about my day that people I deal with should “smell” something different—the wonderful aroma of Christ.
Not that everyone will respond positively to this distinctive aroma. Praise God that some will. As Jesus makes a difference in our lives—at work, in the community and in the home—some people will be attracted and ultimately experience salvation for themselves. However, that same smell will be the stench of death to others. They will recoil both from it and from us. We should not be surprised by this, as Jesus himself both attracted and repelled. “And who is equal to such a task?” (16). Of course, none of us is. Yet, as Paul goes on to remind us, as Christian disciples we have within us “the Spirit of the living God” (3:3). It is he, and he alone, who makes us “competent” and even “confident” in the ministry God has given us (4–6).
Praise God that he not only calls but also equips. Pray for his help as you seek to give off his “aroma” today.
Lord, thank You for causing us to respond favorably to Your aroma those years ago. Cause others to be similarly affected as they behold us in our daily living.
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