The word, aroma, falls easily off the tongue and evokes pleasant thoughts within our minds. If we close our eyes we can almost smell the heart-warming aroma of our mother’s cooking, wafting from the kitchen, and knowing with great anticipation that our favourite desert is being prepared for dinner. My grandmother’s house had its own special aroma that I always associated with her, a mixture of the lavender water she splashed on herself and the furniture polish she used that seemed to have been absorbed into her old furniture so it was always fragrant. I loved this strange combination of aromas because it always reminded me of how much she loved her grandchildren and how she loved us coming to stay with her. I was fascinated to discover that the dictionary definition of aroma was; a spice with a distinctive fragrance, an agreeable odor, persuasive quality or charm. So armed with this definition and our own memories and experiences of aromas, what does Paul mean when he urges us to be, “the aroma of Christ” and how do our actions in his name become pleasing aromas to our Heavenly Father?
Aromatic spices have been very much a part of cultures for centuries so Paul’s readers would have been aware of the deeper meaning behind his word. The use of perfume and fragrances are often mentioned in Scripture, the Song of Songs is sprinkled with verses about fragrant perfumes. God himself says he is pleased by the pleasant aroma of Noah‘s sacrifice (Genesis 8:21) and we know how spices enhance flavour, so when we belong to Christ our lives take on a whole new and strong flavour. People become aware that we are different from the rest of the world; we become distinctive by how and what governs our everyday actions. When we are filled with the grace of our Lord, our very presence brings about a change in whatever atmosphere we find ourselves. Sometimes the atmosphere may be one of despair. It may be one of anger. It may be one of sorrow. It is up to us to be that aroma of Christ in whatever situation we find ourselves. Henry Thoreau put it this way,
“Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere”
Aromas have the ability to stimulate a want that perhaps we were not aware we had. For example walking past that coffee shop and suddenly smelling your favourite blend, drifting through the door, is enough to immediately think, “I need a cup of coffee!”
Our Christ like aroma can have the same effect on those who don’t even know they need his love, by attracting them first to our sweetness then to the One who is so anxious to make Him known to them.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
While we are spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ to others, that same fragrance rises up to our Heavenly Father. Somebody remarked that the stench of evil is only obliterated by the sweet aroma of Christ.
When we exhibit this pleasantness in our own lives, I get a mental picture of the pleasure we bring to our Creator as if he receives a beautiful bunch of flowers from us, and on smelling the perfume, smiles at the gift from one of his children.
- A Sweet Aroma to God (momsfirstscreenn.wordpress.com)
- Fragrance or Stench? (marylhamilton.wordpress.com)
- The Smell of Grace to God is the Sweet Fragrance of Christ’s Sacrifice (darrellcreswell.wordpress.com)