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What’s That Smell?

A funny thing just happened. Some workmen were installing some carpet upstairs on the main floor of our home. A wonderful aroma was wafting up through the floor vents. “Is there a kitchen downstairs?” they asked. They wondered how they could smell something so good coming from the basement. Well, yes, that’s where we live. I was cooking brunch. The smell of home fries with onions and bacon permeated the whole house, I guess.

Smell is an important sense. When we are cooking or baking something delicious, our mouth waters in anticipation of the taste. The smell of fresh flowers brings a pleasant aroma that makes us smile. The smell of smoke warns us of danger. The smell of mint is invigorating. The smell of incense or a scented candle burning can relax us. A stench, on the other hand, is obnoxious and turns us away.

Did you know that God has a sense of smell? I recently read the book of Leviticus, and was amazed at how many times we are told that the sacrifices offered to the Lord according to His plan were “a sweet aroma to the Lord.” I underlined all 15 times where that phrase occurred. God is pleased with a sacrifice that comes from a pure heart. But when sacrifices were offered by people who refused to heed God’s words, this was the verdict: “Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet to Me” (Jeremiah 6:20).

In the New Testament, Paul has this to say about fragrance: “Thanks be to God who leads us, wherever we are, on his own triumphant way and makes our knowledge of him spread throughout the world like a lovely perfume! We Christians have the unmistakable ‘scent’ of Christ, discernible alike to those who are being saved and to those who are heading for death. To the latter it seems like the very smell of doom, to the former it has the fresh fragrance of life itself” (II Corinthians 2:14-16a, J. B. Phillips).

Are people around us curious? Are they asking, “What’s that smell?” Is it an odor pleasing to God? Pleasing to our friends and family? Why or why not? That’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?


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