But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
Paul gives a vivid picture here. Paul pictures a Roman triumph, in which the commander-in-chief has defeated a foreign country. This was the highest honor given to a Roman general. The triumphal procession or parade marched through the streets of Rome and ended at the capitol.
This is the order of the parade:
People carrying the goods taken from the foreign land
Princes, officials, and generals of the foreign land
Priests swinging their censers, letting out a sweet smelling aroma
The General on a chariot, dressed in purple
The General’s family
Finally, the army, shouting a cry of triumph
For the General and his army, the sweet smell that is coming from the censers that the priests are swinging is a smell, an aroma, or a fragrance of victory, triumph, and life, but for the captives it is a smell of defeat and death.
I believe this is also a great image for worship. What if we worshiped God with our lives in a way that was sweet smelling to Him? What if the smell of worship that filled our church services each Sunday proclaimed Christ is victorious? It would be a smell that also says Satan has been defeated and has no control over our lives.
I believe that sort of worship would be contagious — it would draw the community in to see what is so good. So my encouragement for us is to worship God with our lives. Let’s be sweet smelling aromas for Him.
Rev. Steven Brumbeloe, Associate Minister, Mt. Bethel North