A Sweet Aroma—and a Stench?

Charles Stanley

Have you ever had a negative experience when trying to share the good news of Christ? Some people just don't want to hear about Jesus. Although your concern is for their eternal life, they may think you are trying to shove your religion down their throats.

To help us understand why some people will have such a negative reaction to our faith, the apostle Paul used the analogy of a Roman celebration of victory. In his day, when a general returned to Rome after conquering the enemy, he made a triumphal entry and led a parade through town. He rode in a golden chariot surrounded by his officers and followed by his troops. At the end of the procession were the chained captives.

During this pageantry, clouds of incense floated among the participants and the assembled onlookers as pagan priests carried their censors. To the conquerors, this was the sweet aroma of victory. But to the captives, it was the smell of death, because they would soon be killed by wild animals in the arena. In the same way, believers are a sweet fragrance of Christ to one another as we follow in His victory over sin and death. However, to those who don’t know Him as Savior, we are a reminder of the judgment they dread.

Although some people will be repulsed by us and our message, we must continue to share our hope with gentleness and grace (1 Peter 3:15-16). At one time Paul hated Christians, yet he would be the first to affirm that the Lord can reach a hardened heart and change a captive into a victor.

Taken from “The Fragrance of Christ” by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).

Originally published December 15, 2010.

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