Let me begin with a seemingly awkward question. How do you smell? Now, before you take offense, I am speaking metaphorically. Scripturally, our bearing is likened in many places to an aroma. Steadfast faith in the resurrected Christ will be the smell of a rotting corpse to those who are themselves spiritual zombies. Whereas communing with Christ is likened to having perfumed robes, dripping with the potent aromas common in the ancient eastern cultures (Ps. 45:8).
This image is a helpfully palpable one. If you spend time in Matt Gray’s garage for a men’s forum, you’ll come home with the scent of cigars clinging to you. If you go into one of those perfume shops at the mall you’ll come out smelling French. Spend an afternoon working at a coffee shop or working in a mechanic’s garage and you’ll bear the scent of beans or gasoline. Your aroma processes before you and loiters behind.
Where you spend your time, and what you spend it around, will be discernible by those around you. If you dwell in God’s presence you will bear a sweet savour. Now, this aroma will be simultaneously offensive to those who are spiritually dead but unmistakably wonderful for those who share in the new life in Christ. However, if you live as a hypocrite, God says your offerings are a stench unto Him.
Reflect for a moment, though, as to what sort of aroma your life has borne this past week. Was it the fragrance of nearness to Christ, or was it the acrid notes of deception, manipulation, seething enmity, or simmering unrighteous anger? You cannot abide in Christ and not bear the fragrance of His presence; peoples’ response to it is outside your control. You also cannot live duplicitously and imagine it is a delight unto the Lord. So, I’ll ask again, “How do you smell?”
Prayer of Confession
You’ve made us priests, and as such the oil of Your Spirit, and the fragrance of the incense of our prayers ought to surround us like a cloud of glory. Where we have murmured and complained, where we have seethed with envy, where we’ve contemplated dark thoughts of despair, we instead surround ourselves with poisoned fumes. Blow upon us by Your Spirit, to drive away any foulness of heart and mind. And anoint us with the oil of gladness, that it may run down from top of our head down to the hem of our garments, and so may we be the aroma of life to those who are called and the aroma of death to those who are perishing.
You have called Your church to truth in the inward parts, so we now confess our individual sins to You. Selah.
We do this in Jesus’ mighty name, and Amen.