“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, UlitmateJoyLeave a Comment
Something in us wants to come off as being kind and nice; accepted and pleasing. I often wonder if Christ worried about how He smelled to the Pharisees and Sadducees when He faced them and called them brood of vipers, white wash tombs with dead bones inside. We (hubby and I) kept forgetting the sweet aroma that is pleasing to God is our obedience and that is why the world does not like that odor.
In street ministry, nice and pleasant does not always win points, or souls. The Holy Spirit had to teach me that aroma to God is not always that to others. Paul once asked his readers, “Now that I tell you the truth, am I our enemy.” Sometimes touch love, stinks.
God is loving, full of grace and mercy; yet, He is a God, of righteous judgments. This balance makes Him sweet. We understand when we fail, He is full of mercy, yet there may be a part we will not like; the part, which request obedience rather than sacrifice.
As parents and even supervisors at any job or responsibility under our authority, we understand part of love is the touch part. However, it is the sweet part because God trust us to do His bidding even when it is tough.
Yes, sometimes our smell is not from obedience, but disobedience; praise the Lord for His mercies for they are new every morning.
Dana Butler says
Myra, this post makes me wish I could get to know you. 🙂 Really like your heart.
Love the analogy. It becomes very visual or fragrant, shall I say…
Nancy Ruegg says
My favorite sentence from your encouraging post: “His grace changes my weaknesses, my betrayals into something He can use for His glory. ” Now there’s something worth shouting about! Our God is not just in the forgiving business. He’s in the transforming business. Even our failures can be metamorphosed into something glorious. WOW!
Lois Schulmeister says
Myra, As always your skill and talent with writing is outstanding. You peaked my interest immediately telling about your experience in the North Woods. I could visualize the trip just by your details and I think I could relate to your discomfort not having showered in several days. Loved the analogy of your story. Also adore the photo……….it is so becoming and your smile certainly displays the true you………loving, caring and personable. God is using your talents in many ways by the lives you touch.
Maureen Lang says
What a wonderful reminder of God loving us, despite our “natural” tendency toward waywardness. Thanks for the spiritual shower, Myra!
Loved this! I admit my “flesh” can be stinky because of my unChristlike attitudes or impatience. I tell myself living with a life of physical pain is no excuse for them. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Sometimes His sweet fragrance oozes out from my life like from a crushed rose and I thank Him, again for His mercy and grace.
What a great analagy. I definitely want to have a sweet fragrance about me. I fear there have been too many moments where I have been less then sweet smelling. God has given you an amazing talent, thank you for sharing it with all of us.
Oh Myra, you’ve done it again! I am so proud that I know you! Very nice piece of work, full of gratitude and attitude.
See you soon!
Beautiful analogy, Myra! “How many times have I failed to be God’s sweet smelling perfume, but truly stunk the place up?” This heart-check question is something I must ask myself throughout all my days. Thank you for the beautiful reminder and encouragement of God’s cleansing grace to me, to all of us.
Kym McNabney says
Very powerful words. Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful analogy! I am feeling rather stinky today, so thank you for this encouragement. 🙂
Geri Bennett says
What wonderful words – and so true! Thank you for this blog – we all need reminded that God’s gift to us in Christ is ENOUGH: enough to cover our screw-ups, our lack of attention, and every other way we think we’ve failed!. In Him, we are made strong!
Thanks again – great post!
Beth Williams says
These words resoate with me. I can be ugly-spirited, thinking ill of others & acting a little unChristlike at times. I never used to think about how that affected others view of Christ.
Lately I have tried to temper those feelings with thoughts of “think of what they are going through now” “Try to emphathize with them” and usually that turns my feelings to a better mood.
I try and truly want to be Christ to the world. I would never want anyone to say “why be a Christian if they act like that–what’s the point?”
Thanks for an encouraging post!
Michele Hunter says
Truly beautiful words and a beautiful message, Myra!
What a beautiful reminder of what I am, compared to what God is. Far from perfect am I, and I rest in knowing that He is able to cleanse me from the stain of my sin, trans’scented’ : ) by His Grace.
Bernice Otoo says
This is great Myra. i was pushed by the words”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.”
I WANT IT TO BE MY PRAYER TOO.