What is that Smell?


Have you ever had to investigate a suspicious household smell? Maybe someone forgets to take out the trash or a little food gets trapped in the kitchen sink. Or maybe a child’s laundry doesn’t quite make it into the hamper and ends up under a bed or thrown into a corner of the closet.

One thing about this kind of odor—it can’t be ignored. Or covered.

Now, you may think you know where I’m going with this. “She’s going to relate this to sin. Stuff about odor always comes back to sin.”

Nope. Not this time (although there is an excellent life-lesson there…).

Let’s take a different path.

Have you ever noticed that you can tell where someone has been by the way they smell? I mean, there’s a major difference in our children’s aroma fresh from a shower, and their “fragrance” after playing outside for a few hours. When our girls would come home from basketball practice, there was no doubt that they had spent time in the gym and locker room. Those places have a distinct smell.

On a Saturday afternoon, it’s obvious when my husband has enjoyed time with his lawn mower and weed eater. He doesn’t have to tell me—I just know.

But enough about not-so-pleasant aromas. Let’s talk about the good ones.

Let’s talk about…my grandchildren (see what I did there?)

My husband and I are blessed with two little grandsons. Benjamin is three months old and Jack is a grown-up 16 months. Now, they have the typical baby-smells—unmentionables and spit-up and the like. But there’s something else. If it was possible to bottle it, a fortune could be made.

The fresh-from-God baby smell.

After a few hours of hugging, cuddling, kissing, smooching, tickling, and loving on these sweet, sweet boys, their beautiful freshness wraps around me and lingers long after we’ve been together. My clothes and skin actually smell like them. And my oldest daughter has mentioned that Jack-man sometimes carries the scent of my perfume.

We tend to carry the fragrance of whatever or whomever we spend time with.

Do you know people who seem constantly bogged down by envy, bitterness, and anger? Have you noticed that just being around them puts you at risk? Whether we want it to or not, the “odor” of contentious or combative people tends to cling to our spirits and bring us down.

This is also true of our activities. Do we “smell” like reality-television, too much YouTube, or the latest grocery-store tabloid? Do we reek of busyness, over-scheduling, and stress?

Or do we smell like Jesus?

…Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God… (2 Cor. 2:14b-15a)

I must admit that I tend to fall into the trap of becoming so over-scheduled that I give off more of the unpleasant scent of stress than I do the sweet fragrance of Jesus. In fact, I reached a point recently where a precious friend stood talking to me and my mind could not even focus on her words. Like an idiot, I stared at her until she turned me around and said, “Go home.”

Thankfully, this friend knows and loves me. She forgave my “unpleasant odor” before I even apologized.

But what about the rest of the world? If Christians are running around oozing fatigue and stress, how will we ever reach anyone with the aroma of Christ? What will set us apart from the chaos of our culture?

If the secret is found in where we spend our time, then it seems logical that time with Jesus and His Word will make the difference. Time with Him will wipe out the unpleasant odors, giving us the “exquisite fragrance” of our Lord—peace, joy, patience, love, and compassion. file0001145697964

Others around us will want to investigate—wow, what is that amazing scent? I want to know more!

As we walk through a new week, will we leave behind a fresh-from-God fragrance?


Father God, please forgive me for leaving behind the unpleasant odors of fatigue, busyness, and stress.  Convict my heart to come to You when I am overwhelmed. May I always seek to carry the beautiful fragrance of You.

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