2 Corinthians 2:14–17
Paul had to deal with a Church overcome by vanity and a growing desire to gain honor and distinction at any cost. His absence from Corinth and the lack of leaders with strong spiritual backbone created a theological and administrative vacuum and a great opportunity for these individuals to move in and fill. The Church got inundated with leaders with personal agendas. Paul’s strong rebuke in 1 Corinthians gained some resentment, especially among these leaders and their followers causing the Church to split.
Anyone who holds a leadership position in Church can identify with this scenario. Rebuke a disgruntled, selfish, personal agenda carrier in the Church and you become the enemy; the bad guy in the movie. Paul decided this time to write a letter instead and deal with a faction that started a personal attack campaign against him. The terrible thing is that no one in Corinth came to Paul’s defense. Again, another scenario Church encounters too many times. We are a family, families have differences but, as a family, we must stand for what is right and against what is wrong. You must tune up your spiritual senses to perceive the work of the enemy even among some of our deceived members and deal with them. (Titus 3:10–11)
By writing this letter Paul is not shying away from these divisive attackers in the Church of Corinth. He chose to write this letter to test this Church’s spiritual backbone and their loyalty. (2 Corinthians 7:12)
Now, even after experiencing some of the most difficult times in ministry and the immense concern for the church in Corinth, Paul begins the passage of our interest today acknowledging God’s goodness through thanksgiving. Concerned about something in your life today? Be thankful.
Paul was always rejoicing in God’s care for him. He was convinced that God always leads us believers in victory through Christ and he gives us a picture to express this truth; the triumphal parades well known throughout the Roman world. Victors as well as prisoners of war would march through the streets as fragrant perfumes filled the air. The parade always ended with many prisoners being executed. For this reason, the aroma would have a different significance; sweet to the victors but repugnant to the defeated.
Through this picture we know that we are victorious only when the Lord leads. We are victorious over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:56–57) and victorious over all circumstances because of Christ (Philippians 4:11–13). Secondly, we are God’s sweet aroma pointing at the Savior. We spend much time telling and showing people how blessed we are but seldom do we use the opportunity to point at Christ as the reason for our blessings. Make the determination to use every opportunity you have to point people to Jesus. (1 Corinthians 2:1–2) Don’t be deceived and stand tall; you are God’s sweet aroma pointing everyone to Christ. Lastly; we are God’s sweet aroma honoring the Father with our lives. How is your attitude towards others? How is your speech? Have you help someone in Christ’s name today? You provide flavor to a world that is tasteless. You provide light to a world in darkness. (Matthew 5:13–16)
Just as the aroma in the Roman parade meant something different to the victor and the defeated, our existence and faithfulness to the propagation of the gospel have a different meaning to those with whom we relate. To those who are Christians or becoming Christians we are like a sweet perfume that reminds them of our common Savior, salvation and eternal destiny. To those who are not Christians we are the aroma of death and eternal damnation. To the first we are reminders of God’s wonderful work through Christ. To the religious, legalist and unbelievers we are reminders of a path they chose to reject; the truth for the lie. Who is adequate for such a task as this? Who is worthy of playing such an important role in human history and in the kingdom of God? It is unbelievable that God appointed us Christians to this role. But He did!
Does anyone avoid your presence because you like to include God, Christ and their goodness in your conversations? Do you feel left out because of your tendency to bring Christ into your conversations? Praise the Lord, don’t give up and thank Him. Like Paul, “preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching (you).” (Vs. 17)