Christ's Lingering Fragrance - The Crosswalk Devotional - June 16
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- 2022 Jun 16
Christ’s Lingering Fragrance
by Annie Yorty
"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. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?" (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NASB 1995)
Over a month ago, my daughter wore a new shirt, one with tiny, sparkly sequins sewn throughout the fabric. Today I opened my dresser drawer and something shiny caught my eye. You guessed it! A gold sequin from my daughter’s blouse nestled among my jeans.
That’s not the only place I’ve found the sparkles. I spotted them on the front porch, in the silverware drawer, on my car seat, in the clothing hamper, and even in my shoe. Though I’ve cleaned my house (I promise, I do vacuum regularly), they keep gleaming from my area rugs and winking from the hard surface floors. And let’s not even talk about the collection I’ve discovered in the washer’s rubber gasket and the dryer’s lint collector.
It’s a wonder there are any sequins remaining on the shirt. And all that was from just one wearing. I wonder if our lives should be a bit like those shimmering sequins reflecting the light. Does evidence of Jesus keep shining in the places we’ve been? Have we influenced anyone for Christ by our presence?
In 2 Corinthians, Paul compares this idea of lasting influence to fragrance. First and foremost, he says, we need to pass the sniff test with God. Does a “Christ-like” aroma emanate from us? Research reveals that mothers recognize their own babies by scent.1 Likewise, God knows the aroma of His Son, Jesus. If we’re sticking close to the presence of Jesus, His glorious fragrance rubs off on us. This pleasing aroma then rises from us to God.
But anyone who has ever baked chocolate chip cookies knows that smells also permeate every bit of airspace in your home. In the same way, the sweet aroma of Christ wafting from us should infuse the atmosphere wherever we go. Paul says those we meet will sense Jesus in us and respond.
Responses to the fragrance of Christ will vary. “To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:16 NLT).
Who wants to smell like death? I don’t think that perfume will ever be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue. But apparently, that’s what some people will discern from the presence of Christ in us. His righteousness is an affront that spotlights the doomed state of their souls. Others, however, will bask in Christ’s life-giving perfume. They will deeply inhale the scent of life and be saved.
We do not control the perception of our Christ-like fragrance. Instead, we focus solely on faithfully disseminating the aroma of Jesus.
And what is the aroma of Jesus? A hymn writer once wrote that if the ocean were filled with ink, we could exhaust its supply just by writing about the love found in Jesus (The Love of God, 1917)2. But Philippians 2:8 distills Christ’s character into two words: humble obedience. Jesus, though He was God, chose to allow His Father to lead every thought, word, and deed.
We have the same mandate. As we yield in submission to God’s Spirit in us, our characters reflect more and more of Jesus. We will desire and be empowered to obey God’s directions. His character, His fragrance, will cling to us and penetrate the senses of everyone we meet.
In Ephesians chapter five, Paul provides some practical ways the Spirit, in cooperation with our submitted will, helps us exude Christ’s fragrance. Our speech, Paul says, must transform from foolish and coarse talk to thankfulness (5:4). He also explains that we must reject greed, which leads to the worship of false gods (5:5). In this chapter, you can read many other examples of fragrance-producing attitudes and actions that are pleasing to God.
I don’t know how many sequins were sewn onto my daughter’s glittering blouse. Though it’s hard to imagine, the sequins will eventually run out as she continues to shed them.
Fortunately, we need never conserve the fragrance of Christ. His supply is limitless, so we can liberally soak ourselves in it every day. When we do, His cloud of sweet perfume will rise pleasing to God and life-changing to people.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Does the influence of Jesus linger heavily in the air after you’ve left the room? How can you more accurately manifest the aroma of Christ’s character?
For further reading:
1. Kaitz M, Good A, Rokem AM, Eidelman AI. Mothers' recognition of their newborns by olfactory cues. Developmental Psychobiology. 1987 Nov;20(6):587-91. doi: 10.1002/dev.420200604. PMID: 3691966.
2. Lehman, Frederick M., 1917
Photo Credit: Unsplash/thoughtcatalog
Annie Yorty writes and speaks to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. She has written From Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed through Down Syndrome. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.
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