As I glance down at my bathroom vanity this morning, various perfume bottles catch my eye. Appearing in all different shapes and sizes, each one individually uniquely designed. And although the bottles are quite captivating, the real treasure remains inside. The bottles were created to hold something, much like you and I.
Throughout Scripture, we as believers are often symbolized as clay jars, perfume bearers, or empty vessels. God Himself has poured His presence, the Holy Spirit, into our lives. We are His dwelling place. However, we often misunderstand God’s intention as we idly let the time tick by. We were not created to be a decoration, sitting as a display up on a shelf. His intent was to be poured out, spilling lavishly on those around.
Read 2 Cor. 2:12-17. In our text today, we see the softer side of Paul, who otherwise often seems invincible. Today, he is preoccupied with the whereabouts of his beloved Titus (obviously, ions before cell phones and tracking devices). This storyline from v. 13 gets dropped until chapter 2 Cor. 7:5-7, so we will circle-back around in the upcoming weeks. For now, let’s keep marching ahead.
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. 2 Cor. 2:14
In the days of Paul, the Romans had grand parades to celebrate a militant victory. The general of the army would be perched high and lifted up on the first chariot. However, preceding him would be the spoils from the war.
Trials always precede triumph.
We often forget that our pain and suffering has a purpose. There is a victory awaiting us as we continue to allow the Lord to lead our way. Reflecting on the life of Paul, we see a man whose life was like a roller coaster. Twists and turns. Ups and downs. Often appearing to be travelling nowhere. But through it all, Paul continued to patiently endure with his eyes fixed on the final prize. He lived knowing heaven was awaitin’. He lived with certainty and spent his time well.
In the parade procession were incense bearers, spreading the fragrance of victory after the war. Y’all…we have a victory that is to be celebrated! It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The person who recognizes they are nothing without God will empty themselves of everything they once trusted. The things we once placed our identity on no longer matter. We will become destitute in spirit, trusting God to do a work on our inside.
And here is a great paradox…the more you let go of “you” to God, the more “you” you do become. You find yourself in laying your life down. You find your greatest treasure is living for Him!
When we start living for Jesus, our aroma spreads out. Life to some. Death to others. This is where it gets hard. Not everyone we encounter will like the way we smell. It is not up to us to decide.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:18 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 2 Cor. 2:15
What if we poured out Jesus from our lives, regardless of the response? What if we eeked out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? What if we laid down our pride?
Ponder for a moment: How can we live differently? How can we pour the aroma of Jesus out to this world?