But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 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. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14–16, ESV)
Paul emphasizes the fragrance of a believer in Jesus Christ. Consider that for a moment: Christians have a certain smell. Let’s look at this closely.
First, Christians smell like triumph. Have you ever thought about that? We do not smell like losers. Believer, we smell like victory. That is a very different way of articulating our walk with God. Victory is coming!
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4, ESV)
We not only smell like victory, we smell like Christ. Christ through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. That is why we can walk into a room and people will just know without us saying anything that this person must be a believer. There is something different about this individual. It is because the fragrance of Jesus is distributed through us.
“We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved.” To those who know God or are coming to know him, we smell like life. We are also the aroma of Christ to “those who are perishing.” However, to them, we smell like death. Think about that for a moment. We smell like life to fellow believers and to those who are growing into a relationship with God. But to unbelievers who are refusing relationship with God, we smell like death. That is why Jesus said, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13, ESV).
The aroma of Christ is a sweet, exhilarating fragrance for the believer. The aroma of Christ is putrid death for the unbeliever who has refused Christ, and believers should expect to be hated by them. But hold on to the end! Our salvation—our victory—comes!
In your present relationship, what do you smell like? Are you the aroma of Christ to the person you are in conflict with? My hope is that when people experience your fragrance, they will experience the gospel of aroma. They will smell the forgiveness that is on your breath. They will encounter the smell of humility that only comes from knowing Jesus.
Lord, let me smell like you. Let my fragrance be life to all people, especially to those with whom I am in conflict. . . . Continue praying.