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Posted by Dr. Scott Solberg on Sep 16, 2020

The Smell of Life

SMELL IS A POWERFUL SENSE. Researchers of odor memory (I didn’t know there was such a thing) talk about how smells trigger vivid memories. Can you think of a smell that triggers a positive memory for you?  

For me, my mind immediately goes to the smell of my grandfather’s pipe. It is a smell that conjures up all kinds of warm and pleasant memories. That is interesting to think about because for some, the smell of smoke from a pipe is far from pleasant.   

It reminds me of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”    

Carson says of this passage, “Paul insists that he does not himself change, depending on his audience. He is the same aroma; he proclaims the same Gospel, the same discipleship, the same Christ, the same way to live. Whether he is perceived to be a sweet fragrance or a foul stench does not depend on some change in him, but on the people who must deal with him.” (For The Love of God, Vol 1) 

Nonetheless, there is a “fragrant” way of life that we seek to live. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul calls us to “walk in love,” and then he points to the example of the love Jesus showed us. He described this act of love as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”   

When I read this passage, I immediately thought of this prayer. It expresses the kind of “fragrance” I want Christ to produce in my life.   

“O LORD, all treasures of wisdom and truth and holiness are stored up in your boundless being.  Grant that through our constant fellowship with you, those graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within me: 

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart 
The grace to await your timing patiently and to answer your call promptly 
The grace of courage whether in suffering or in danger 
The grace to endure any hardship in the fight against evil 
The grace of boldness to stand up for what is right 
The grace of physical discipline 
The grace of truthfulness 
The grace to treat others as I would like them to treat me 
The grace of sensitivity, that I may refrain from hasty judgment 
The grace of silence, that I may refrain from thoughtless speech 
The grace of forgiveness toward all who have wronged me 
The grace of tenderness toward all who are weaker than myself 
The grace of faithfulness in continuing to desire that you will answer these prayers 
Amen and Amen.” 

May the smell of our lives trigger a vivid memory of God’s love. 

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