I noticed it on Thursday. Something smelled wrong and it was definitely coming from the laundry room. I knew we had 10 puppies in the garage, just beyond the laundry room door, that did not give off the most pleasant aroma…but this smelled different. As the day wore on the smell got stronger. I started washing everything in sight. I emptied the trash. I opened up the windows. I looked behind the washer and dryer. I looked in the closet. But I could not figure out what was causing this terrible stench. As the evening wore on we all commented on it…and then we would forget about it…until we had to go near the laundry room.
However, upon my nose being assailed with an even worse odor–if that was even possible–on Friday morning, I realized that this smell was not going to vanish on its own. I started to panic a little because we were having a large Christmas gathering at our house that night. What was I going to do? I was going to have to solve this mystery…and sooner rather than later. So I did what I often do in these circumstances: I asked my husband to help me when he came to the house for a few minutes from the office.
Within a matter of minutes he found the culprit. When we were making room in the freezer for our recently acquired venison, someone had put a bag of chicken on top of the freezer and forgot about it. Boy, did that thing smell! It was put there on Wednesday morning and by Friday it smelled like the chicken had actually died right there on the freezer and was laying in the hot sun. We quickly discarded the offensive chicken and then I went about trying to remove all remnants of that terrible odor from my house.
There seems to be a spiritual parallel here, doesn’t there? If there is a bad odor surrounding me, then something is causing it. Let me give a few examples. If I am angry, there may be a deeper issue of selfishness at work. If I tend to yell a lot, there may be a deeper issue of lack of self-control. If I brag about my accomplishments and boast about my kids, there may be pride in my heart. If I arrogantly express that no one is going to tell me what to do, then there is probably a root of rebellion at work. If I entertain myself with the things God hates, then I am lacking discernment. If I am sweet and kind on Sunday, but not so nice the rest of the week, then I am a hypocrite.
Anger…indulgence…pride…rebellion…a lack of discernment…hypocrisy…they all give off a bad odor. They are not the fragrance of Christ. Paul talks a little about this in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. He says:
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death, leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
If our fragrance is from Christ, then those who are being saved will find our fragrance refreshing and wonderful. But those whose hearts are hardened will not like our fragrance. It will irritate them. We will be the aroma of death.
I think it is pretty clear that not only are we to dig out the roots of sin in our lives that give off a bad odor but we are to conduct ourselves in such a manner that we will give off the fragrance of Christ. A rather inadequate analogy would be that it is like the difference between being around a person who has just come from digging in a manure pile and a person who has just freshly showered and has applied a sweet-smelling perfume.
This incident has made me think about what sin is in my life…and what aroma I am giving off? Not only to those who do not know me all that well, but also to those who know me really well…my family. What about you? What do you smell like?