Thanks be to God, who . . . through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? —2 Corinthians 2:14-16
The love of Christ in the hearts of Christians is a subtle, invisible, yet unmistakable aroma of the Spirit of God. Others may notice it even before you speak to them. They experience it in the acceptance and friendliness of your manner. What’s the source of this fragrance? It comes from spending time with God. It’s the love that clings to you when you come from being in God’s presence, through prayer and reflection on the Scriptures.
It’s the aroma of the Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 13—a patient, kind, selfless nature that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (13:7). This loving Spirit within you comes from Jesus, from spending time with him, resting in his love for you, and hearing his words of assurance and instruction in the Bible. This is the aroma your neighbors and the people you work with will notice about you. It’s what will attract them to you, encourage them to trust you, and make them want to spend time with you.
As our Scripture passage for this devotion points out, some people will not find the fragrance of God’s love appealing; instead they will find it displeasing. That’s okay—it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong; it just means they are fighting against God’s work in their lives. Keep showing them God’s love. When you wear a fragrance, you have to get close enough to people to allow them to smell it. What can you do to get closer to your neighbors—close enough that they can sense the presence of Christ around and within you? Do you share hobbies? Is there a chore you can do for a neighbor who is experiencing illness or hardship? Do you make time to have families over for dessert and conversation? Can you offer to take some of their children with you to the lake or to a good movie? Find ways to spend time and get to know the people God has placed around you—and let them get to know you. You must, as Paul did, open your heart wide to them (2 Corinthians 6:11). “And who is equal to such a task?” You are, if you take time each day to bathe in the fragrance of God’s love. That fragrance will be more compelling and inviting on you than the most expensive perfume.
Loving Father, I give You thanks for pouring out Your sweet fragrance upon me as I love others with the love of Jesus. Continually show me ways to reach into the lives of neighbors and coworkers so that those who come to know me, will also come to know how much You love and care for them. Stretch me into conversations and acts of kindness and compassion that I would not ordinarily do and empower me by Your Spirit to see others as You see them and to love as You love. Make me equal to this task so that You are glorified and made known in the lives of lost and hurting people.
–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise the righteous God whose face shines upon you (Psalm 4). Thank him for setting apart the godly for himself. Confess any unresolved anger that causes you to sin. Commit yourself to bringing to God gifts worthy of his name. Ask the Lord to surround you with his favor and spread his protection over you so that you may rejoice in him.
Pray that the Spirit may thrust believers into worldwide mission, impelling young and old, men and women, to go next door and far away, into science and art, media and marketplace with the good news of God’s grace.
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