By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us always spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance of death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s Word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Certain memories stick with you forever. I had left the ravages of the harsh Chicago winters where I went to college to enjoy the sweet, warm weather in Washington, D.C., which was in the midst of its cherry blossom festival.

The enveloping weather and the luxurious smell of the blossoms made you think you were almost in heaven. A tremendous sense of well-being saturated your spirit.

Aromas can change your whole sense of being. The odors of death and dying can bring on your gag reflex and drive you from a dwelling wreaking of rotten smells. The aroma of death is revoltingly abhorrent.

On the other hand, the wholesome, sweet aromas of blooming, fragrant blossoms can change your whole perspective on life. That was the overwhelming sense that I had as I immensely enjoyed Washington in the midst of so many, many cherry trees.

Reminiscing on the memorable results of your nose at work, doing what it does so well, can heighten your sensory memories of experiencing living and dying, sweet and rotten.

So we radiate smell. To those who are dying in unbelieving coldness, the smell of death. To those who are living in believing warmth, the smell of new life. Jesus Christ, is a stumbling block, a rock of offense, to those who are dying. To those who are living, He is the fragrance of life.

What a dramatic difference! You can see this difference as you speak the gospel into a dying world. Some gag, and spit out epithets, while others bask in cherry blossom time. These dramatic, black-and-white responses only reverberate the truth of the Word of God. It crushes some, and it rejuvenates others.

Do not be disheartened by the response of the “gaggers.” It is a foregone conclusion. Be encouraged by others who receive the Word with gladness.

Recognize your aromas! They are a result of God’s providence, not your failures. Never lose heart in expressing the good news of Christ to a dying world. The good news smells. Wonderfully to some, rotten to others. Do not forget it!


“Fair are the woodlands, fairer still the meadows, robed in the blooming garb of spring: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing.”
(2nd verse of anonymous German hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus,” 16th century)

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