Fragrances (2 Cor 2:14-17)

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16, KJV)

Of the five senses of man, the sense of smell can change opinions of things very quickly. Years ago, I took a job in a papermill in Savannah Georgia. I remember my first visit. As the airplane landed, I sensed an obnoxious odor of sulfur. The closer I got to the mill, the stronger the odor became. As I worked in the mill for a while, the odor became less offensive. In fact, I basically did not notice it. However, when I finally got our former house sold and brought the family down to Georgia, we drove right by the mill. I think someone in the car was on the verge of dry-heaving. Odors have a way of affecting people.

It is the same with sweet smelling fragrances also. Most of us have had the experience of going into a field of flowers, or a botanical garden and smelling the sweet fragrances. It was refreshing and you just wanted to carry that fragrance with you as long as you could.

People have odors also. Literally, some care for themselves and wear nice perfumes or after-shave. They are pleasant to be around. Yet there are others who do not care for themselves and carry about a pungent scent that is off putting. Some carry the odor of their environment with them.

Paul wrote that Christians carry an odor about them. However, it is not one that is sensed with the nose. It is a spiritual odor that has a profound affect on the people we meet. The word, “savour,” used in the KJV text, the Greek osme, refers to a fragrance or odor (Strong G3744). He indicated that God, through the witness of believers spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in every place. There is no greater or more pleasing aroma and you might think that this aroma would be so wonderful that all would be drawn to it. Yet, this is not the case.

In the text, there are two different Greek words translated as “savour.” One as previously mentioned is osme, a generic word referring to any fragrance or odor. Yet, a different word is used in the phrase, “we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.” Here the KJV correctly differentiates by translating the word for “savour,” euodia, which literally means a good-scent, a “sweet savour” (Strong G2175). The spiritual aroma that we spread is to some a “sweet savour of Christ,” while to others we spread “the savour of death.” It is not that we exude two different fragrances. No, we exude the sweet fragrance of Christ. Yet those whom we influence with this fragrance take it two ways. To those who are saved, it is a most beautiful fragrance, for it presents everlasting life. However, to those who are perishing it is a fragrance of death, for to them it presents judgment.

In my job at the papermill, I would often take on the odor of the sulfur that was in the air. It was unavoidable. Everyone else there smelled the same. Yet, as a believer, who stood for the Lord, I also exuded a sweet fragrance, the fragrance of Christ. It was noticeable by all. To some it was sweet yet to others it was sour. Realize this.

If you are a believer, there are two things to consider here. First, as a believer, you are naturally attracted to true Christian fellowship because other believers exude the sweet aroma of Christ, an aroma that draws you. Second, as a believer, you also exude this aroma and, as such, have a profound influence on everyone you meet. Consider these two thoughts in your daily walk.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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