I knew I was in trouble the moment I walked through the double set of glass doors. I followed several ladies into our church this past Sunday. The entrance is merely a small hallway leading to another longer hall with classrooms. Entrapped in the tiny hallway was a mixture of five women’s perfumes, and a couple of men’s colognes. With the first breath of fragrance, my throat tightened. I walked the twenty feet and ignored the greeter I usually stop and hug who gives me a bulletin each week. By the time I got to my classroom, I literally was choking. I couldn’t talk without constantly clearing my throat. Asthma and allergies. I didn’t have an inhaler. I drank coffee.
I wonder sometimes why people pour on so much perfume and cologne. Do they really think they smell that bad? Some people have a particular fragrance they wear and even in their absence, everyone knows they have been in the room. My department director told me that her husband’s law partner wears so much cologne that when he rides with her husband to lunch, she can smell his cologne on the seatbelt when she buckles up four hours later. Sometimes I think folks are walking advertisements for fragrance factories. Is this necessary? It makes me think of my life. What do I leave behind when I’ve left the room?
“For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
I use to wear tee-shirts emboldened with all kinds of Christian messages and verses on them. I never went anywhere without my cross necklace. I had little fish-stickers on my car, and often carried Christian tracts to leave in the restaurant with my tip to the waitress. However, a few times I found myself being aggravated in line at the supermarket check-out while wearing the shirt advertising the peace of God. I recalled the fish sticker on my bumper when I failed to let another out in traffic, but went on my merry way. I had to keep my tract tucked inside my purse when I’d been rather impatient with a frazzled waitress who kept messing up my order.
I rarely leave a tract behind anymore…unless I’ve engaged the waitress or waiter in conversation about their lives, their needs, and shown compassion about their frazzled day, or inquired about the scowl which I felt revealed a headache or heartache. I’ve sometimes given my cross necklace away when someone compliments it. I no longer risk the fish on the back of my car. I’ve come to realize the best advertisement I have for Christ is who I reveal in my natural conversation and actions. If I impart no patience, no grace, no mercy, what will a tee-shirt explain? If I belittle or annoy another with rude behavior, or me-first aggression in buffet lines, then what will the message really say?
No. The fragrance of Christ is in the manifestation of His Spirit. Otherwise I become as a clanging cymbal, a noisy gong, a litany of worthless rhetoric.
LORD, help me be a better witness to Your love by being a living sacrifice of Your love. Make me aware of times my fragrance is but an odor. My words but empty tombs. My writing but whitewashed hypocrisy. Fill me today with your generous Spirit and keep me ever mindful of the fragrance You impart to me for others who do not know You. selahV