The average human can detect up to ten thousand different odors. Smells can evoke powerful images–the smell of mothballs can take us right back to when we were eight years old and playing in Grandma’s attic. The scent of pine transports me back to walking across campus in Nacogdoches.
As followers of Christ we have been given a very unique fragrance. And whether we intend it to or not, our very presence in the lives of others always leaves a lingering scent. When we are kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it, it smells wonderful. When we help a person in need, the fragrance lingers long after we’ve gone. Paul says that regardless of what we do, our fragrance should always remind people of Christ. “But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:14-15)
In the days when Paul wrote much of the New Testament, it was a very common occurrence (especially among Roman rulers), that when they had taken their army and had overcome the enemy, they would come back to their own village or community in a processional. The watchman on the wall could see them coming for miles. The commander in chief would be on a horse, a white horse specifically, and leading his army. Behind him would follow the captives from the conquered city. His soldiers would gather beside them to keep them in line and several of them would roll huge vessels of incense that would continue to burn as the parade would march through town.
The vessels of incense were included in the march so there would be a reminder that there had been victory. The scent of victory lingered in the air; it was a very thick aromatic and sweet smell. All day long through the street remained the reminder that there had been a victory.
Paul bases this scripture on his military experience which included the lingering fragrance of incense. We are to be the aroma of Christ, that’s why we’re here. As the “fragrance” (lingering evidence) of Christ’s victory, we are called to spread the reminder of the Conquering King wherever we go. Paul reminds us that the Lord always leads us into triumphal procession, but do we always follow where He leads? We are guaranteed victory if we follow Him since He always leads us in that victory march. There is no other path that guarantees victory!
Regardless of what you are facing in your life, there is victory for you. It has been set aside for you. Christ only marches in victory; He is the Sovereign Victorious One. Be the evidence that He has overcome the world and allow the lingering aroma of His victory to remain everywhere you go. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:57)
As you go about your business today, what kind of fragrance will you take with you? Pause for a moment to ask God to help you be a sweet representative of Christ, leaving His delightful aroma lingering in the air behind you.
Dear Father, may Your victory be witnessed in my life bringing glory to You. Help me to touch, in some small way, each person I meet today. Help me to leave behind a fragrance that reminds them of You. In Jesus' name, Amen!
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