Vol. 6, No. 8
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
~ Page 16 ~
To be distinctive is to have a special quality, style and attractiveness. A fragrance is a sweet or pleasing scent, an aroma that has a pervasive characteristic or quality. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life and who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Visualize a cesspool -- that pit for collecting filthy water. Visualize a bay, a lake, a river or a stream that is backed up, stale, putrefied, no movement of the water because there is no filtering and as a result there is this almost unbearable stench! It is polluted; there are flies, gnats and mosquitoes swarming all around it. This is a vile place! Visualize us when we were still in the world and you have a disgusting yet vivid and accurate picture of what we looked and smelled like to God before our spiritual transformation.
"Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision made in the flesh by hands, that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:11-12). "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another" (Titus 3:3). "For we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6).
Now visualize a waterfall, an ocean, a sea -- cool, clean, crisp, blue, pure, crystal clear. We are in that glorified spiritual state of cleanliness because of Jesus! "You were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11b). "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13).
What about us? What kind of fragrance or aroma are we to God? Our lives are to glorify and magnify his name daily. Through Christ we become that sweet smelling aroma to those around us and they appreciate being in our presence. Our aroma is to be so distinctive that even if they don't know what it is that makes us different, they notice that difference. "Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma" (Ephesians 5:1-2). "Indeed I have all and abound. I am full having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18).
There are numerous people, places and things competing for our attention daily. Jesus warns us about this in the parable of the seed and the sower when he tells us about the seed or the Word of God that is choked out by the thorns. He explains that portion of the parable in this way: "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (Mark 4:18-19).
One of the strongest warnings and predictions of entanglement is found in 2 Peter 2:20-22: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, a dog returns to his own vomit, and a sow having been washed to her wallowing in the mire."
People in the world have got to see, sense and feel a difference in us. When our glass is "bumped" by the issues of life, what do they see and hear. What spills over and out of our glass?
When there is prolonged or chronic illness (our own or somebody else's)
When death comes quickly or otherwise
When there are financial reversals (job and/or savings lost, retirement plan insufficient)
When grandparents become parents again
When there is a major crisis in the church
When the marital relationship has been strained to the limit (infidelity & divorce)
When children become unfaithful or have not obeyed
When family relationships are broken
When fire and flood destroy
When lives are lost through violence
When alcohol and drugs are abused
When there are home invasions (robbery and vandalism)
When there are sexual assaults
When accidents occur of all descriptions
When children are born with mental and physical defects
When children are born to unwed women
I pray every day!
I go to church every Sunday!
I give money to the poor!
I've read the whole Bible!
I do lots of good things for other people!
I'm a nice person!
Tribulations produce spiritual growth and maturity. We are growing when we choose to read, study and meditate upon the Word that gives us the power to become all God intended for us to be. Spiritual maturity is that spiritual fragrance that benefits us and all others when we become fully developed and complete. Paul put it this way: "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character and character hope" (Romans 5:3-4). "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).