Saturday, January 28, 2012
A Sweet Aroma
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
I love this passage of Scripture.
The great calling. The challenge. The imagery. It's all so beautiful.
Many of you who have read these verses probably think I am going to be writing on the first part of verse 1: "be imitators of God." Yes, I love that part of the verse (so much so that I wrote a blogpost about it here), but that's not what struck me several days ago.
The part that struck me was the end of verse 2: "an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." In this verse, it is describing Christ and His sacrifice, giving the word picture of a fragrant aroma or pleasing smell wafting up to the Father's throne.
I knew I had read something like that somewhere else in the Bible, but where?
After looking in the concordance, I found it: 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;"
In the verse from Ephesians, Paul was describing Christ as a fragrant aroma, but in 2 Corinthians, he uses the same analogy for us.
Like I stated earlier, I think that that description is beautiful. But what truly is that fragrance? If we are supposed to be the sweet aroma of Christ, where does it come from? Look at verse 14 again: "...and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place..."
The knowledge of Him in every place. That's it. That is the fragrance we are supposed to be. Wherever we go and whatever we're doing, we should be as a lit candle emanating the refreshing scent of our Lord. What an incredibly challenging thought. And there's more....
Continue reading in verse 15: "For we are a fragrance of Christ to God..."
To God? Why would we be a fragrance to God? I searched the Word again and found what I was looking for.
Think back, far back into His story (yes, history) and recall what the Israelites did that caused a fragrance to reach the throne room of heaven.
Sacrifices. The importance of sacrifices are seen all throughout the Old Testament.
Look at Genesis 8:21 for example, "The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done." This verse is referring to the promise God made to Noah after he came off the ark and offered a sacrifice to God.
Here's another verse from 2 Chronicles 2:4, "Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, dedicating it to Him, to burn fragrant incense before Him and to set out the showbread continually, and to offer burnt offerings morning and evening..."
Sacrifices were an important thing to the Lord. When Christ came, He died as the Ultimate Sacrificial Lamb, so that there would no longer be any need for sacrifices. Even though we are not held in bondage to making daily sacrifices in a physical sense, what does Paul exhort us to be in Romans 12:1?
"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."
There's the word again: sacrifice. And here is where we tie everything together. We are called to present ourselves unto God as a sacrifice, so that the fragrance of Christ may be evident to those around us, as well as to the Lord Himself.
Oh, that we might understand the importance of surrender, that we would lay everything upon the altar of Calvary. The "Church" of America seems to have all but forgotten this important truth. We are such a distracted people; it is absolutely pitiful. We find the little trinkets of this world so alluring and captivating, yet compared to the glory and beauty of our great King, it is rubble.
This brings me to yet another passage of Scripture. Read it all and read it slowly, allowing it to sink into your soul.
"'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the Lord of Hosts to you, O priests who despise My name.
But you say, 'How have we despised Your name?' You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled You?' In that you say, 'The table of the Lord is to be despised.' But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil?
Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly? says the Lord of hosts.
But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly? says the Lord of hosts.
Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you.
For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
But you are profaning it, in that you say...'My, how tiresome it is!' And you disdainfully sniff at it, says the Lord of hosts, and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand? says the Lord.
But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My name is feared among the nations."
Have you been honoring the Lord as He deserves?
Do you find the Lord's work tiresome?
Have you been promising complete devotion, yet giving utter complacency?
Would you give the same devotedness to the president that you give to your King?
Oh, that we might see Him as He is and give Him the sacrifice He deserves! Let us give Him our everything!
"Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every power as You choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee."
~Take My Life, Frances R. Havergal