“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. 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” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV).
Many years ago I knew a woman who, in her twenties, had worked with artist Little Richard. I don’t remember much of anything she told me about him, except this one thing. “Little Richard,” she said, “wore copious amounts of women’s perfume.” She went on to explain that “he wanted to make sure that people never forgot him when he left the room. You could still smell that perfume for hours after he exited.” Those who met Little Richard never forget him.
I also remember reading stories about the great men and women of God who have gone before us. One such man, Smith Wigglesworth, was similarly unforgettable. Once he boarded a train and sat down. He said nothing; he didn’t look around. He simply prayed for the people on the train as he was wont to do wherever he went. The train car went silent. Finally one of the passengers went up to Wigglesworth and said, “Sir, you convict us of sin!” Wigglesworth then led them all to faith in Christ.
The same thing happened again as he was being given a tour of a factory. The owner of the factory was forced to shut down the factory as conviction had fallen on all of his employees.
There are many more examples of such events in the lives of Wigglesworth and many other giants of our faith. It seems that, like Little Richard, they carried with them an unforgettable fragrance, one which spoke volumes to those who came in contact with them. These are examples of 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, our lead text.
It’s difficult for our minds to comprehend the concept of “the aroma of Christ.” The thought that something other than our words and deeds might alert others to the presence of God in our lives is foreign to us. And when we do begin to grasp it, we become aware that we also have an aroma, consistent with the lives we lead, with whom we put in charge of our lives.
If we are daily, hourly, minute by minute, living out the two Great Commandments–“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)–we will be filling the world with the sweet smell of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Those around us who are Christians will identify the scent and be drawn deeper into faith, becoming more mature and spreading the aroma of Christ wherever they find themselves. Those who don’t know Christ will be convicted of sin, and will either move toward faith or further away still.
Most of us are pretty self conscious of the way we smell physically, Like Little Richard. But we don’t always consider the scent we are spreading spiritually.
Are you spreading the “aroma of Christ” to a lost world, or is the fragrance of self so overwhelming that the world only smells you?
**Image from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284991.php