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Two Scents

Elder, David “Doc” Kenser, gives us a daily reflection and devotion.


When one says that something smells good, that is not altogether true.  The truth is that while it may smell good to that individual, it may smell awful to someone else.  If it were true that things smelled objectively good, there wouldn’t be such a huge market for different colognes and perfumes.  Some love the smell of musk.  Others would say, I don’t like that, it smells musky.

What goes into the allure or repulsion of a smell is not just the scent itself but what the scent conjures up in the spirit of the one who smells.  For instance, when I moved to Scott City, Kansas in the early 80s, I could not believe the awful smell coming from the local cattle lots.  But, as a local beef producer pointed out to me, that was the smell of money!  To him it was the sweet smell of success; to me it was putrid smell of natural fertilizer pushed about by the endless Kansas winds.

When I fire up my grill and toss a couple of steaks on it, a savory smell of mouth-watering beef fills the neighborhood – to me.  To a member of PETA, it would be the ungodly smell of an innocent life, murdered and burned for the murderous appetite of a heathen.  By the way, to them PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  To me PETA stands for People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.  Objectivity is not the basis for savory verses smelly.

A biblical example of this truth is found in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.”  Christians are to be the pleasing aroma of Christ, which is the putrid smell of death to the enemies of God.

In ancient times after a victorious military campaign, the victors would have a procession leading back into their capital city.  At the front of the procession, the victors would be carrying burning incense that was the smell of victory to them but the smell of defeat to the conquered who were brought along in chains at the end.

This truth helps us to understand the great divide in our country today.  If you are pro life, you are offensive to those who are pro-choice.  If you support the traditional family, you are a stench to the same-sex crowd.  Atheists are nauseated by the scent of the God-fearing.  Christmas is both a delight and an affront, depending upon whom is being asked.

So, what does all this mean for Christians?  It means that every word, though or deed has two scents. To one it will be savory, to the other it will be sickening.  It also means that we cannot be attractive to everyone.  In choosing the path of Christ, we necessarily become putrid to the enemies of the cross.  And, if we try to straddle the middle, we become an affront to God: “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16).

The bottom line is that we have to make a choice: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).  Jus’ Say’n.

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