“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.” II Corinthians 2:14
If you haven’t yet found that perfect gift for your beloved or other dear ones, here’s a thought: a fragrance. I understand this is not a new thought. Long before the royal houses of the Middle East and Europe drove the market for perfume, the Shulamite maiden of Song of Songs understood the value of fragrance in lovemaking.
But my granddaughter, who has been studying the art of perfumery, has enlightened me to the fact that fragrance can have powerful effects on the psyche and can create indelible memories and perceptions. (That may explain why the Frasier fir scented candle my friend gave me for Christmas has made it easy to imagine that my pre-lit, easy to assemble Christmas tree has just been hauled in from the woods and is thirstily gulping water in my living room.)
Before you rush to your local department store or corner drug store to sample the plethora of fragrances out there, let me explain. I’m not suggesting you stock up on perfume or scented candles, but that you consider offering another life-giving fragrance to your loved ones this Christmas: “the fragrance of Christ.”
While our cultural celebration of Christmas is more about perception from a worldly perspective—dressing my tree, my house, my gifts, myself—those impressions, like most perfumes, fade nearly as soon as the decorations come down and the gifts are put away. But, the fragrance of Christ in us—the very thing for which the whole world is desperate—gives a lingering impression that can take the mind and heart to the royal courts of heaven.
Although fragrance is a subtle, invisible kind of influence, it doesn’t wait to be invited and is not so easily contained or ignored. In the past, I’ve noted that my efforts to impress with my “precious words of life” have fallen on deaf ears. On the other hand, as Jesus’ Spirit diffuses something of His heart through me—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness—the impression is much more compelling. How slow I am to learn: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit!” (Zechariah. 4:6)
Those of us who keep company with Jesus have a priceless opportunity this season to give the gift that will leave a life-changing impression—the very essence of Christ—and the Love that gave Himself up for us by His death on a tree for our sin, “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
How will you diffuse the sweetness of our Savior—Emmanuel (God with us)—among your loved ones this Christmas? To others? And what memories will you create that remind them of the Love that became sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God?
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