Friday, March 28, 2014

The aroma of a life

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ephesians 5:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "And walk in love as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us as an offering to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:2

For someone who loves perfume as much as I do, Ephesians 5:2 resonates. Here Paul calls Jesus' death a "sweet-smelling aroma." This aroma (euodia) metaphor has its roots way back in the Old Testament, and drifts, as smells do, through to the end of the New.

We find God's reaction to Noah's sacrifice after the flood described in terms of smell: "And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma" - Genesis 8:21. In many more places the writers described sacrifices as aromas. A ram offered in Exodus 29:18 was called "a sweet aroma, an offering made of fire." Loaves of bread burned were "..a sweet aroma to the Lord" - Exodus 29:25. (See also Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17; 2:9; 3:5 etc.)

In our reading today Paul hearkens back to this aroma of sacrifice when he says that Jesus is to us "an offering to God for a sweet-smelling aroma" - Ephesians 5:2. In other words, the aroma of Jesus' death as a sacrifice in our stead satisfied God.

In 2 Corinthians Paul extends the aroma metaphor to the way we live our lives. He says the scent we exude (by how we live and what we say) communicates a message to those who have trusted Christ and to those who haven't:
"For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing:    
 To the latter it is an aroma [wafted] from death to death [a fatal odor, the smell of doom]; to the former it is an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]" 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 - Amp.

This life-aroma picture is pretty powerful, especially if we add to it that Old Testament aroma of sacrifice (bringing to mind, for example, verse like Romans 12:1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God..." - NKJV).

In another place, Paul calls the material gifts of the Christians from Philippi "a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18).

And finally, in Revelation, the prayers of the saints are compared to incense—the aroma-producing substance burned in celebrations of worship throughout the Bible (Revelation 5:7-9 and 8:3-5).

Whether we love actual perfume, or don't, these pictures of the perfumed life apply to all of us. I ask myself, is my life a fragrant sacrifice which pleases God? Do I spread the aroma of the gospel? Do I pray?

PRAYER: Dear God, I want my life to be a pleasing aroma to You and those around me. Please make me aware of areas in me that are foul smelling. Amen.

MORE: Sense of smell

The ability to smell is a wonderful part of our physical makeup. Here are some facts about this sense:

  • Everyone has his or her own unique odor-identity or "smell fingerprint."
  • A woman's sense of smell is keener than a man's.
  • Our sense of smell is least acute in the morning; our ability to perceive odors increases as the day wears on.

These facts about our sense of smell from the Sense of Smell Institute - Fun Facts with Professor Nosetradamus page (no longer online).

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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