Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6 (NIV)
Ministers of the New Covenant
12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia. 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ, we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
How can the same Gospel be either the smell of death or the fragrance of life?
Thank You, for the physical sense of smell. The fresh smell after a spring rain, the new car scent, the satisfying aromas of fresh baked cookies or fried bacon all bring comfort, contentment and joy. Smells can trigger memories that can foster both good and bad feelings. Nearly forty times in the Old Testament, it speaks of how pleasing the aroma of a burnt offering is. This positive imagery of scent represents Your satisfaction in experiencing the proper worship of You. I pray that my sacrifice of praise and worship is a beautiful scent for you to enjoy. The sweet savor of people who are being saved from Your victory on the cross is pleasing to You. In this passage, Paul referenced the Roman Triumphal Procession. Among the procession incense bearers would swing censers and sweet-smelling incense would drift through the crowd. It was the smell of victory, but only for those who won. That same smell was detestable to those who were conquered. In the same way, the Gospel is a stench to the ungodly who despise Your Word and those who live in Your victory. The wicked love what You hate and hate what You love. They call evil good and good evil. Because Your followers are like a bright shining light, it reminds the world of Your righteousness, exposes their sin and their need to get right with You. We represent that bad odor of death and defeat and they reject it. Help me to not compromise the intensity of my dedication to You and Your Word in order conform to the world and make the smells of victory more tolerable to those who are evil. Instead, allow my actions and behavior be a strong scent of beauty that others, who do not know You, will notice as I share Your love and serve them in Your name. Help my life be a delightful fragrance to you as I cherish, appreciate and apply Your Word. Accept the sweet aroma of the sacrifice of my commitment to You and the dedication of my life for You. Let my prayers to you be as incense. Amen