When I was younger I had a great aversion to liver! If I remember correctly, liver was championed at that time to be very good for you. Therefore my Mom would do her due diligence to prepare it occasionally for the family. She tried all kinds of recipes. She’d bake it, fry it, smother it in onions or drown it with gravy. But however it was cooked I could not handle it. The smell of it was enough to send my stomach into fits and I usually ending up on my knees in the bathroom! The rest of my family could handle it, but it was definitely not one of their favorite foods either. I was thankful to God when my Mom finally gave it up as one of her menu plans. To this day I still find the smell of liver to be offensive.
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 tells us that the fragrance that emanates from us can be enjoyable and even life-giving to some folks while being a stinky smell that is offensive and repulsive to others. The New Testament in Modern English says: “We Christians have the unmistakable ‘scent’ of Christ, discernable alike to those who are being saved and to those who are heading for death. To the latter it seems like the deadly smell of doom; to the former it has the refreshing fragrance of life itself.”
This verse tells me that I should almost expect and be ready and not put off by a non-believer who does not instantly warm up to me or to my message about Christ that I share through my life and character as well as by my words. I have also learned the hard way to not be too surprised with a believer who might get offended because something I do, say or believe does not agree with their understanding of the Word or life’s experiences.
2 Corinthians 4:16 reminds us that “the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (MKJV) The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states that this “implies the continued renewal in the youth of the new man.” This is one of the reasons I have always been drawn to the youth in our church and community. They are hungry for knowledge. They are constantly developing. Many times they experiment with new ideas, new standards of behavior, clothing styles, language, political philosophies, and attitudes. Sometimes their actions are not positive and at other times they fit the mold of the model citizen! They are continually allowing their inward selves to be renewed! They are pliable and moldable and can easily become passionate about what they believe. That is why it is so exciting to see a young man or women on fire for Jesus. They are the visible representation of what Paul meant when he declared that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 MKJV)
The older we get the less pliable we become. I can vouch for that in the natural when I bend down to pick up something at the end of the day! The old body does not respond as fluidly as it did when I was eighteen! The same can be generally said about the knowledge, ideologies and beliefs that we hold within us. Each of us is a unique product of our personal experiences in life, natural education, biblical teaching or lack thereof and of the political/social environment in which we reside.
From my wife and my experiences over the last few years, I have come to believe that even Christians can have areas of their lives that are not always open or pliable to God’s instruction and love. We’ve seen otherwise strong and mature Christians who we know love us bristle when some of the actions we felt led of the Lord to take did not agree with the way they would have handled the situation. The actions that accompanied their response to us was not very pleasant for us. I wouldn’t want to say that they were like liver to me, but in terms of 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, the fragrance that they were wearing at that time was more than a bit repulsive to my olfactory receptors!
That one area of disagreement also seemed to open wide the door to criticism and judgment over many other subjects as well. It reminded me of my experience many years ago when I worked at Hewlett Packard and was “loaned out” with other managers from various private companies in the area for two months to act as a Loaned Executive for United Way. One of the areas of my responsibility for the 1987 funding drive was the State offices within Sonoma County. As part of that coverage I spent two days at the Sonoma State Developmental Center addressing groups of employee throughout the sprawling old campus.
This center “is the oldest center in California established specifically for serving the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. The facility opened its doors to 148 residents on November 24 1891, culminating a ten-year project on the part of two prominent Northern California women who had children with developmental disabilities.” (http://www.dds.ca.gov/Sonoma/History.cfm) Over the years the center did not always generate the most positive thoughts in people’s minds. To say the least… the place kind of freaked me out! The interior of some of the old buildings had a sort of stench that tried its best to turn my stomach! And when I was left alone to forage through the long dreary halls to find the various rooms where I would make my presentations, I became a little wary and I must admit, a bit touchy!
The whole atmosphere, the smell in the air and the fear that was doing its best to invade my mind made it hard to respond in the most positive of manners. By the second day I was able to pray through my fears and take authority over my mind and emotions and ended up actually enjoying the beauty of the old architecture and gardens as well as the wonderful people who worked and lived there.
I learned through that experience as well as the more current one with our relatives, that I want to always try and be the “refreshing fragrance of life itself” to those around me. I may be having a difficult day, but I still attempt to put on a smile and give a warm greeting when out and about. After all… if I am trusting in the Lord, then whatever caused me difficulty or even the thing that someone else did that was not the way I would do it will seem as nothing compared to Papa God’s love, His grace and His joy.
My job is to be a mirror of His love and life! Not to criticize, judge or try and change someone else. How about you? Have a great day. Be aware of the fragrance you are wearing and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to positivity influence today?”