Christian Living

Spiritual Life

My Not-So-Sweet Fragrance

Enjoying a peaceful cruise on the way home from work one evening, a car fast approached in my rearview mirror. Beginning to ride my bumper, I debated whether I had time to move into the right lane to allow him to pass before I needed to make my left hand turn off the highway. Turn approaching within a quarter mile, I stayed put. After all, I was going seven miles over the speed limit. And I was about to turn. What could he be mad about?

Continuing to ride my bumper, the driver swerved into the right lane, flashed his middle finger as he passed, then proceeded to cut me off and tap his brakes. “How dare he?” I thought.

Instead of heeding my mom’s advice to let unpleasant encounters slide off me like water on a duck’s back, my blood boiled. I hit the gas. 

Making the same left hand turn, we spent the next five miles aggressively trying to pass each other, bumper riding, brake checking and sharing an assortment of coarse language. On the curvy country road, it’s a miracle we didn’t cause an accident.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of rage even after I arrived home. “He started it!” I thought as I attempted to justify my actions. 

Walking around my now parked car to head inside, a glimmer caught my eye. Staring back at me was my gold Christian fish decal that I proudly portrayed on my lower left bumper. My heart sunk. 

The Apostle Paul states,

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV)

How often I miss the mark. Not only is my fragrance at times less than delightful and “not so sweet," sometimes it is downright awful. As Christ’s ambassadors, everything we do and say is a representation of Him, and our actions, whether good or bad, will be associated with Him. What a sobering thought.

I suspect nothing pains God’s heart more than to see His followers representing Him poorly to a world yearning for the unconditional love and redemption available only through Him. In talking with those who have rejected Christ or turned from their faith, many times the reason is, “because Christians are…” Judgmental. Selfish. Hateful. Uncaring. The list goes on. What they have observed in some followers of Christ left a bad taste in their mouths. 

While accepting Christ does not automatically make us perfect and without fault, when we daily remind ourselves that we are called to be representatives of Christ and commit our actions, words and attitudes to Him, our mindset shifts. Instead of showing impatience with the elderly woman taking forever in the grocery checkout line, we show compassion. Instead of participating in gossip in the workplace, we speak words of encouragement. Instead of engaging in road rage as I humbly admit I did, we show love and repay evil with good.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV)

While I often fail, I thank God that His mercies are new every day and trust the Holy Spirit’s good work in me.

As my mom told me every day before I departed for school, “Don’t forget who you ARE, WHAT you’re about and WHO you represent.” We have the privilege of spreading the fragrance of Christ. Let us strive to be a sweet-smelling fragrance that will draw people to our Lord and Savior. 

Copyright © July 2021 Emily Marszalek, used with permission.

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