“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. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16a, NIV)
To put it mildly, I stunk! After having endured an entire week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with only one shower, I was totally ripe. Part of a team preparing a Northwoods camp for opening day, we worked hard during the week. Cleaning, digging, sweeping – even building a new latrine – trying to make the place cozy, yet woodsy. And private enough to find God.
Despite the physical labor, I deemed it too cold take a nightly shower. That’s easy to do when your shower is a tin pail with holes at the bottom hanging on the wooden beam of an unheated, freezing bathhouse. Soon my odor began to announce my presence. When I arrived home, no one wanted to stand by me, get near me, have anything to do with me until I went home and took a shower.
Knowing how badly I can smell makes me shutter when Paul says we are the aroma of Christ. How many times have I failed to be God’s sweet smelling perfume, but truly stunk the place up? How often have I turned people away from Christ because of my malodorous, sinful condition? Or worse, my lack of love, my failure to give grace?
I want people to be drawn to God by my sweet perfume – the love of Christ – that permeates my words, my actions, my life! I long to do something extraordinary for Him…stirring people to move closer to God, not sending them away with the stench of my failures! Who would already know Jesus if I lived my life faithfully serving and doing His will?
That’s when I remind myself God never gives up on me. Even when I sin, He still has marvelous plans for me…plans to advance His kingdom, not reduce it.
This is a constant struggle. I will always wear the scars of my past failures – times when I could have been more patient, more kind, more caring. Times I neglected helping one of his beloved sons or daughters. Times when I could have loved as Jesus loved, but instead created the stench of my toxic indifference.
God’s grace will cover me. Through the poignant love of God, He saves me from my failures. I pray every day to shower in grace, bathe in it, perfume myself with it until I am ready to go out into the world and draw people closer to Him.
His grace changes my weaknesses, my betrayals into something He can use for His glory. He redeems my sins. And with His love, He can use me for what is good, true and perfect.
Whether I’m a sweet fragrance or something you’d rather forget, know this: No matter how broken you are – no matter how offensive your aroma is before man – God will always love you and cleanse you with His grace.
By: Myra Biernat Wells, UlitmateJoy