On my way to my daughter’s babysitter, a.k.a. grandma, I drive past a store called “de Oil Shop.” The store sells aromatic body oils and incense sticks. They have a unique way of attracting people to their store. Sometimes in the morning or afternoon, they will actually light up one of the incense sticks they sell, and secure it to the wall next to their shop. Therefore, whenever you drive past, you are hit with the wonderful aromatic scent of the incense. The hope is that the smell of the incense would entice you to come in and see what else they have for sale, and maybe even make a purchase. I have to confess that many times I was tempted to park and buy some of that incense!
This ingenious marketing ploy also reminded me of my walk with Christ; what “scent” am I giving off? No, I am not talking about body odour, or the smell of my breath; I am talking about what the apostle Paul said when he wrote, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Is my life a testimony to the work of Jesus living in me, and thus a pleasing scent to those around me; or is my life an offense to others, revealing that I am still very much living in self-reliance?
The only way an incense stick gives off its scent is when it is lit with a flame. As it smolders, it releases a wonderful aroma. It is no different with us. When we are in the flame of affliction, we too give off a “scent.” The scent we give off will depend what we are made of as well. If we are filled with selfish ambition, strife or pride, then the flame will reveal the stench of our flesh. But if we are filled with Christ Jesus and His love, then when the flames of hardship and difficulty arise, the scent is exhilarating to both believer and unbeliever. Jesus was an irresistible fragrance to God, because He was filled with a sacrificial and godly love and He is our example, as it states in Ephesians 5:1-2: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Now be aware that not everyone enjoys the spiritual scent that comes from being filled with Jesus. The same thing happened when Jesus was on earth. The next verse in the 2 Corinthians passage quoted earlier says, “to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:16). The reason why some would not enjoy the scent of Christ is because it reminds them of their rebellion against the King and is an offense against their own love for sin. Paul mentions this in his letter to the Romans: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20-21 ESV).
However, those who are intrigued by that sacrificial scent unto God may just be receptive to finally come into “the store” and find out where he or she too can have that “scent.” That “scent” is only found through believing in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary!