For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15.
Paul’s use of the phrase “the fragrance of Christ” would present an immediate analogy for his audience, but it should also be something with which we should identify.
During Paul’s time the Roman military paraded captives of war through the streets as garlands of flowers were carried and incense was burned. The aromatic perfumes wafted on the air as spectators and those in the procession breathed in their fragrance.
At the parade’s finale, many prisoners would be put to death. Thus, the aromas were pleasing and life-giving to the victors, but they were the smell of death to those who had been defeated.
In Paul’s analogy, he separates humanity into two groups: those on the path of salvation and those on the road to destruction. We who spread the gospel are members of God’s victorious army led by Jesus Christ. We are like the aroma or fragrance spread during the victory processions.
Both the victors and those perishing smelled the aroma; however, it had a very different meaning for the two groups.
For the victorious army and its people, the aroma would relate to the joy of triumph. But for the prisoners of war, the fragrance would be associated with defeat, slavery, and death.
This is why, after our personal salvation, God calls us to sanctification. His desire is for us to bear His fruit and enrich the lives of those around us, to be a sweet aroma to everyone.
Jesus said it like this: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
God’s grace is not just for us but for the blessing of everyone we know and love. And it isn’t limited to sharing the gospel; we can spread the light of Jesus through just a simple word of encouragement, a well-timed hug, or a listening ear.
At the end of the day, we should be “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” Let’s all live lives that are a pleasing aroma to God.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
–by Don Brockway