Before moving on in 2 Corinthians, I want to say a few more words on this passage.
First of all, here is a helpful quote from F.B.Meyer: Nothing touches the sense more quickly than sweet odours, unless it be noxious ones; and they almost instantly recall some scene of the past with which they were indissolubly associated…the apostle wished that his life might be a sweet perfume, floating on the air, reminding men, and above all reminding God, of Christ. It was as though he said, ”I desire so to live that I may perpetually remind God of the obedience, sacrifice, and devotion of the Lord Jesus, so that my words and deeds may recall to His heart similar ones in the earthly life of Jesus.” A sweet savour of Christ! It does not consist so much in what we do, but in our manner of doing it; not so much in our words or deeds, as in an indefinable sweetness, tenderness, courtesy, unselfishness, and desire to please others to their edification. It is the breath and fragrance of a life hidden with Christ in God, and deriving its aroma from fellowship with Him. Wrap the habits of your soul in the sweet lavender of your Lord’s character.
Note a number of other points:
- In Christ, who triumphed gloriously at the cross, we are always triumphant (14a). Regardless of how we feel, this is a fact. We are on the winning side, even though appearances may sometimes tell us the opposite. This bears repetition. It is so important.You may need to preach a sermon to yourself today and remind yourself that you’re a winner, because your circumstances may be mocking you and shouting, ‘Loser!’ Paul faced circumstances in Corinth that were far from what he would have liked them to be. Nevertheless, he believed these words he was writing. (Preachers, take note: makes sure you swallow the same medicine you prescribe to others.)
- We are God’s instruments (14b) to carry Christ into the world, much as the body gives expression to the head. The head does not ‘reveal’ itself apart from the human body, but through it. That’s how it manifests its thoughts, ideas, intentions, desires etc.
- We smell of Jesus (15, 16), as previously noted. Christ is in us and His fragrance is on us. We are so close to Him that we are carrying His scent. So if you don’t have any opportunity to speak about your Lord today, don’t feel a failiure. You will be communicating Him in other ways, and people will take note that you are with Jesus, and that He is with you.
- Our ministry is divisive (16). Not everyone likes Jesus and not everyone likes His aroma. As Jesus Himself said that He had not come to bring peace but a sword (Matt.10:34 -39), so He in us divides people. We get these widely divergent reactions to Christians and Christian ministry. The incense carried by the priests meant life to the Roman soldiers but death to the prisoners who would end up in the arena with wild beasts. Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.758. We remind people what their end is if they reject Christ. This will never be a popular truth to the natural man, unless God changes his heart.
Prayer: Don’t let me be surprised if persecution comes, Lord, but fortify me to face it nobly with you and for you.