A Sweet, Sweet Fragrance

By Marcy Barthelette

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. II Corinthians 2:15

Do you smell it? Farmers all around the area are baling and the scent of freshly mowed hay tickles the nostrils with a most pleasing summertime aroma. Unless, of course, you’re allergic. Allergies aside, our sense of smell is an incredible gift and one we should not take for granted, especially as we continue to deal with that thing called COVID, the loss of taste and smell being common symptoms.

Consider, if you will, the lilacs of early spring. After a long cold winter, their soaring fragrance heralds the promise of new life. This year their lovely purple clusters were covered in snow and yet their delicious scent filled the air. That’s quite a miracle in itself. And imagine yourself in an English garden where heritage roses waft their romantic perfume on light summer breezes. One of my favorite mid-summer garden fragrances is the Stargazer lily. Its spicy sweetness transports me to the open-air markets of the Orient.

I love deadheading my salvias throughout their lengthy season. Their pungent scent of sage surrounds my senses and brings my memory right to Thanksgiving Day when turkey and stuffing roast slowly in the oven. In September, when I visit our local market to find hundreds of mums filling the parking lot, I can only describe their fragrance as being immersed in fall. I know that scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns will soon make their appearance.

Consider the scent of icy cold watermelon on a warm summer day, hot dogs roasting on the open fire, and vine-ripened strawberries over ice cream. And who doesn’t salivate at the aroma of sizzling hot chili bubbling atop the stove in the cold of winter, or how about freshly baked bread or cinnamon rolls? Can anyone say no to a cup of hot apple cider or fudge just poured into the pan? Our sense of scent is truly a precious gift. 

His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. Hosea 14:6

The Bible refers to fragrance several times as a positive result of our relationship with God. When we acknowledge Him, worship His name, and show His love to those around us, we offer to Him a pleasing aroma. When we allow the world to cloud our judgment and then behave sinfully, we offend Him with a sickening stench.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend. Proverbs 27:9

I relish the thought that God likens our behaviors to scent. Whether savory or sweet, scent unlocks all kinds of mysteries in this life and even the offensive ones warn us to be wary of unseen dangers. Take a moment and close your eyes. Breathe in all the scents around you, see how many you can identify, and think about the kind of scent you would want to share with others and, likewise, with God. Do you want to resemble the skunk that carries its disgusting aroma everywhere it travels or do you choose to present yourself to God as a pleasing fragrance? He offers us the freedom to make the choice … I choose to try and be a lilac. What about you?

When we return to the greenhouse each day, it will restore us and bathe us once again in Jesus’ aroma so that people will know where we have been. They will glimpse Jesus in our faces, hear Him in our voices, and see Him in our actions; they will catch the aroma of Christ — His presence in our lives — emanating from us.

Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge

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