2 Corinthians 2:14 through 2 Corinthians 2:17 (NIV)
thanks be to God,
\who leads us
spreads the . . . . . . . . .fragrance of the knowledge.
\everywhere \ of him
we are the aroma of Christ
\ to God
\ among those
\ who are being saved
\those who are perishing.
we are the smell of death; the fragrance of life.
\16To the one \ to the other,
who is equal to a task?
17Unlike so many,
we do not peddle the word of God
On the contrary,
we speak before God
\ in Christ
\like men sent
2 Corinthians 2:14 through 2 Corinthians 2:17 (NIV)
14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 17Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
I. March Ahead
In his book Forever Triumphant, F. J. Huegel told a story that came out of World War II. After General Jonathan Wainwright was captured by the Japanese, he was held prisoner in a Manchurian concentration camp. Cruelly treated, he became "a broken, crushed, hopeless, starving man." Finally the Japanese surrendered and the war ended. A United States army colonel was sent to the camp to announce personally to the general that Japan had been defeated and that he was free and in command. After Wainwright heard the news, he returned to his quarters and was confronted by some guards who began to mistreat him as they had done in the past. Wainwright, however, with the news of the allied victory still fresh in his mind, declared with authority, "No, I am in command here! These are my orders." Huegel observed that from that moment on, General Wainwright was in control.
Huegel made this application: "Have you been informed of the victory of your Savior in the greatest conflict of the ages? Then rise up to assert your rights. Never again go under when the enemy comes to oppress. Claim the victory in Jesus' Name." Huegel observed, "We must learn to stand on resurrection ground, reckoning dead the old-creation life over which Satan has power, and living in the new creation over which Satan has no power whatever."
In his 1942 devotional Abundant Living, E. Stanley Jones, Methodist doctor and missionary to India, writes: The early Christians did not say in dismay: "Look what the world has come to," but in delight, "Look what has come to the world." They saw not merely the ruin, but the Resource for the reconstruction of that ruin. They saw not merely that sin did abound, but that grace did much more abound. On that assurance the pivot of history swung from blank despair, loss of moral nerve, and fatalism, to faith and confidence that at last sin had met its match.
* In some meetings of the Salvation Army in Birmningham England one of the worst men in that city was converted. It was not long before some of his evil associates began to make fun of him, and such a conversation as the following ensued: "You say you are a Christian; who was the father of Jesus Christ?" "I don't know." "Who was his mother?" "I don't know." "When did he live?" "I don't know." "How old was he when he died?" "I don't know." "How did he die ?" "I don't know." "Well, you are a pretty Christian; you don't know who was the father of Jesus, or who was his mother or when he lived or when he died or how he died; what do you know?" Then the rough but genuine Christian man lifted his head, and looking those who were taunting him in the face replied, "I know that he saved me." --R. W. Dale
II. Make an Aroma
A. Of Christ
--- We need to smell like Jesus, so that the sweet smell will entice others.
* One three-year-old's explanation for being in the kitchen atop a chair, eating cookies: "I just climbed up to smell them, and my tooth got caught."
B. of Life
I am of the opinion that Christians should be a little like a
paper mill. Zig Ziglar tells of a story he once heard about a mama skunk and her babies. The skunk family one day passed close by a paper mill. (If you've never been close to a paper mill you'll get the drift of this right away.) One of the baby skunks, almost overcome by the odor sniffed the air and said, "Mama, what in the world is
that smell?" The mama skunk sniffed and answered, "I don't know, but we've sure got to get some of it!"
I believe as Christians, we need to live an exuberant, joyful
life so that when anyone sees us they sill automatically say, "I
don't know what that person has, but whatever it is, I've got to
have some of it.
C. Of Death
* Speaking of his ministry as an apostle, Paul wrote, "To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life." Charles Simeon commented on this text: "To some, we are an occasion of deeper condemnation. To others, we are the means and instruments of their salvation." One of the authors of Pulpit Commentary, R. Tuck, wrote, "There are only these two issues. The gospel must either take us by the hand and lead us up into the sunlight, or it must bid us away down into the dark."
What a warning this should be to the unsaved! To hear the gospel and trust Christ for salvation brings life. But to continue rejecting Him is to guarantee condemnation. It's a matter of life or death.
*OBSERVATION Guilt is often looked upon as bad. People are concerned that obsession with guilt will wreck one's self-esteem. But there are times when a guilty conscience may serve a useful purpose. That is, if we listen to it.
A STORY ABOUT AN ODORAN Last year, Leadership Journal discussed a tragic story that has impacted the lives of millions of people. The story, as originally told by Sara Mosle in the May 15, 1995, edition of The New Yorker magazine, goes as follows:
On March 18, 1937, a spark ignited a cloud of natural gas that had accumulated in the basement of a school in London, Texas. The blast killed 293 people, most of whom were children.
The explosion happened because the local school board wanted to cut heating costs. A nearby oil company had an oil pipeline close to the school. So the board decided to siphon natural gas, the by-product of petroleum extraction, from the company's pipeline to fuel the school's furnace free of charge.
London never recovered from the blast that turned the phrase "boom town" into a bitter joke. The one positive effect of this disastrous event was a government regulation requiring companies to add an odorant to natural gas. The distinctive aroma is now so familiar that we forget natural gas is actually odorless.
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO OUR LIVES? Because of the 1937 tragedy, natural gas that we use in homes and businesses now has a distinctive odor. That odor is added to protect us from deadly fumes. Without this odorant, we would never know about danger to our lives until it is too late. So the distinctive odor is very valuable to us.
A guilty conscience can also be valuable. It can be an "odorant" that warns us of danger. Unfortunately, we frequently ignore our conscience. Billy Graham put it best: "Most of us follow our conscience as we follow a wheelbarrow. We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go."
Graham's point is that we can ignore the prompting of our conscience in our desire to accomplish some goal or obtain momentary pleasure. Or, we can see it as a valuable warning sign--a sign of danger to our well-being. There will be consequences, either positive or negative, as a result of the choice we make.
If you were to smell the odor of natural gas in your home or office, to protect your health you would figure out what is wrong and get help, if necessary, to eliminate the danger. Treat your conscience the same way-- pay attention to its warnings, and obtain any help that is necessary to address what troubles you.
Daniel Webster, a famous man in American history, said that "A conscience void of offense before God and man is an inheritance for eternity." So recognize the value of your conscience. When it troubles you, that is a sign of danger, both for now, and eternally. Eliminate the danger, before it explodes on you
"I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live." Job 27:6
III. Manifest Ability
A. With Awareness of God
God is always watching us. What activity has He witnessed in your life in fulfilling His great commission?
B. With Sincerity Before God
True Christians are characterized by a genuine faith. A good synonym for the word genuine in 2 Timothy 1:5 is the word sincere. If you look in a dictionary that lists word origins, you'll find that it comes from two Latin terms -- sine and cere, meaning "without wax."
Years ago, a potter would often put his seal, or stamp, upon a completed vessel with the words sine cere. This meant that to his knowledge there was no flaw in that work. If a potter did crack a vessel, he would carefully patch that flawed vase or bowl by filling in the crack with wax. Then he would glaze it over. But it did not merit the stamp sine cere, "without wax," because it was not a flawless piece of pottery.
C. With Authority From God
---God has given us the authority and the commission to spread the Gospel and to witness to the lost. Some people take this as an optional part of the Christian life, and they ignore the command, and the authority and equipping God gives them to witness, and instead of witnessing, they make excuses for not fulfilling God's mandate.
* Often I have heard people say that they would witness for
Jesus if only they could talk or think like so and so. If they
just had someone else's ability, what couldn't they do for Jesus.
I have often wanted to reply by saying, "My friend, you would
not do a cotton-picking thing with someone else's ability if you
are not using the ability you already have. You're kidding
yourself, and that's not even being honest. The truth of the
matter is you already have the ability necessary to be a
successful witness for our Lord Jesus Christ. If you'll just use
what God has already given you, you will be given more to use,
but it you don't use what you have, you'll lose it.
- Zig Ziglar
One day a woman named Louise fell asleep in her bed, and dreamed a very fitful dream. She dreamed that someone in Hell wrote a letter to her, and it was to be delivered to her by a messenger.
The messenger passed between the lakes of burning fire and brimstone that occupies Hell, and found his way to the door that would lead him to the outside world. Louise dreamed that the messenger walked to her house, came inside, and gently but firmly woke Louise up. He gave her the message, saying only that a friend had wrote it to her from Hell.
Louise, in her dream, with trembling hands took the letter and read:
I stand in Judgment now,
and feel that you're to blame somehow.
On earth, I walked with you day by day,
and never did you point the way.
You knew the Lord in truth and glory,
but never did you tell the story.
My knowledge then was very dim;
you could have led me safe to Him.
Though we lived together on the earth,
you never told me of the second birth,
and now I stand this day condemned,
because you failed to mention Him.
You taught me many things, that's true,
I called you "friend" and trusted you,
But I learn now that it's too late,
you could have kept me from this fate.
We walked by day and talked by night,
and yet you showed me not the Light.
You let me live, and love, and die,
you knew I'd never live on high.
Yes, I called you a "friend" in life,
and trusted you through joy and strife.
And yet on coming to the end,
I cannot, now, call you "My Friend."
After reading the letter, Louise awoke. The dream was still so real in her mind, and sweat dropped from her body in pools. She swore she could still smell the acrid smell of brimstone and smoke from her room. As she contemplated the meaning of her dream, she realized that as a Christian, she has failed in her duty to "go out to all the world and preach the gospel."
As she thought of that, she promised herself that the next day, she would call Marsha and invite her to church with her. The next morning she called Marsha and this was the conversation:
Hi Bill! Is Marsha there?
Louise, you don't know?
No, Bill, know what?
Marsha was killed last night in a car accident. I thought
you had known.