Devotional 4 "What's that smell?"
Good morning! If you get a chance, grab your Bible...and maybe a HOT cup of coffee (for me!), and let's jump into a passage of scripture that has a remarkable truth.
Read 2 Corinthians 2
Try to pay attention to Paul's tone in this letter. What do you think he was thinking/feeling? Are there any clues as to what seems to be going on in the church of Corinth?
2 Corinthians 2 (NIV)
1 So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? 3 I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. 4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
Well, Paul doesn't waste any time at all letting the church of Corinth know what it is like to go visit them.
"So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you."
Ouch! Right from verse one, Paul exclaims how he had NO PLANS to go back for another painful visit with those guys! Have you ever felt like that? You know in your heart if you meet up with "them" or "her" or "him"- things are going to hurt!
I love what Paul does, though. He gets up and goes anyway. He knows it is going to be hard to see the church he loves and spent a great time building up in such a mess. He knows that it might make him angry or frustrated. He knows how it will go and yet-he goes anyway. Why? Because he loves them and because he has something to remind them of that they seemed to have forgotten.
In case you're wondering how his meeting went- it turned out awful! They were terrible to Paul. The Bible explains that they openly rebelled against him so greatly that he decided that it would be best for him to leave rather than to fall into a spirit of retaliation.
I know Paul was just a man. He readily exclaims that he sees himself as the chief of sinners. But, I'm still left scratching my head as to how a group of people could be in a starter church with Paul as the lead and get so far away from what he had taught them. What happened? What did they forget?
We see a glimmer of what they may have let fall to the waste side when you read verses 14-16.
Isn't smell such a powerful sense? I was talking with my family today about this. It is incredible how a particular smell can just transport you back in time. It can make you feel happy. It can make you cry. It can make you sick! "Smell" is no joke, right!? It's a time machine and it has a memory like an elephant.
What smell sticks out to you in your life's journey? Is there a smell of something that causes an emotional reaction or a memory?
I had the best time asking my family this today. Here are some of their responses. Maybe it will help trigger your's.
Charity- "The smell of carnations. The smell of a carnation takes me back to every funeral I've ever been to! It's awful! On the other hand, the smell of lilacs just picks me up and sweep me back to my childhood. We had a beautiful tree outside of our little yellow house and I would sit under it in the spring and summer and just enjoy!"
Matt (My hubby)- "Movie Theater Popcorn...because it reminds me of every fun date that he and I have had together at the movies."
Jo (My Son)- "The smell from the register when the heat or the cool air is blowing out it. It reminds me of my childhood home with the big metal registers and watching our cat warm himself in front of it. If it was warm, it was probably Christmas Break...if it was cool it was likely summer break."
Donna (My mom)- "The smell of freshly cut grass. The smell of freshly cut grass reminds me of my dad and when he would faithfully mow our lawn."
Duane (My dad)- "Freshly baked bread reminds me of my grandmother's house. It always smelled like warm bread. The smell of cleaning fish. It's not my favorite smell but it reminds me of all of the fish I cleaned with my dad."
Have we triggered any memory for you? Tell me in the comments!
I think one of the most profound things that people do after the loss of a loved one is to find something that the deceased was wearing recently or the pillow that they daily used, and they hold it close to their nose and breathe in. That act is so very telling about our human makeup. The left-over smell of our dear ones is so powerfully comforting. It's such a treasure.
I believe the church of Corinth had forgotten that they also, had a smell.
Now, I don't know how you usually smell or how you smell right at this moment! But, did you know that you have a spiritual smell? You smell like something to God. You also spiritually smell like something to the people you are around. Look:
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.
Huh. We smell to God? That's weird, right?- but not if you let yourself imagine Him like you, knowing that certain smells activate your mind and emotions.
Let say, today you choose to live another day in forgiveness towards someone who has hurt you in the worst ways. Or, how about when you hold your tongue from lashing out and defending yourself when you know you are being misunderstood? When you give your parking space in a full lot to the other car. When you get up and choose to read your Bible and pray when you'd like a few more minutes in bed! Or on those blessed occasions, when you actually get to share the Gospel in a straightforward way with someone that you care for that is lost.
Imagine...when all of that is happening (and more) for the cause of Christ and His will in your life- the GOD of the UNIVERSE takes a deep breath and says, "Ahhh...that's smells wonderful! That smells like Jesus. That makes me so happy because that is MY favorite smell."
I think of Stephen being stoned for the Gospel and as Jesus, Himself, stood up in heaven as a witness at that moment. There must have been the most beautiful smell wafting through the throne room. One of those smells that can bring tears to your eyes because it's so deeply meaningful to you.
I could just sit here forever with those thoughts. Thoughts of God and Jesus and the possibility that my life is a pleasing aroma to God because of Christ. Isn't it wonderfully reassuring?
But...we have to look at the rest of that verse.
15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life
If you are a true child of the King, you will not only be smelly to Him...You will find that you are smelly to others. A piece of that reality is very hard and sad in the above verse. People are going to spiritually smell you one of two ways and their response is very telling about their future.
When you lay your life on God's altar and you, by grace, surrender and obey, there are going to be other Christians or seekers that will be blown away by your fragrance. It will smell glorious to them! It will be alluring. It will smell like "home". They will spiritually wake up a little bit more because it will remind them of something. Life!
But, to those that are suppressing the truth of God that is written on who they are, you will stink. You will be one of those frustrating smells, like when you know a mouse has died in the wall and you just can't get to it! They may tolerate your smell. They may even try to get you to cover up your smell. But in the end, they won't want to be in your vicinity. And once again...smell proves to be a powerful sense. They won't want to smell you because it reminds them of something that deep down they fear is coming. Death.
Be smelly today! Tell your heart the truth that when you are discouraged or wondering if this whole thing is worth it, God is breathing deep and the smell of you in Christ is pleasing Him in a way only you and Christ can.
Keep at it. When you are faithful, your smell ministers life into your brothers and sisters in Christ. It's the best stuff! Bath and Body Works should be jealous!
Keep praying. Pray and pray and pray some more for the people who seem to hate everything about you in Christ-including your smell! I believe that God allows us to truly see people in that condition so that we will be able to cry out on the behalf and to hopefully take part in what He is planning to do in their lives. To be a part of the miracle. You don't want to miss that!
Don't feel like you have a smell at all or at least not one that seems to bother anyone? Send me a message and let's have another hot cup of coffee together. There's an answer to that and I'd love to be able to talk with you about it.