“You need to take a shower today,” I tell my teenage son.
He frowns. “Why?”
After thirteen years of bathing, you’d think he’d comprehend its basic purpose. I’ve discovered the polite response is useless. “You stink, son.”
“So? I’m not going anywhere today.” His mouth curves in a “beat that logic” grin.
I’m actually going to have to argue this out. “I don’t think you should be allowed to stink up the house.”
“Fine. I’ll put on deodorant.”
“Didn’t you use it when you got dressed this morning?”
I suck in my evaporating patience. “Deodorant helps prevent odor. I bought it so you could wear it everyday. It’s not a paperweight, it’s not a decoration for your dresser, and it’s not a ‘get out of bathing permanently’ card. Now, please go shower, and then put on deodorant.”
“Whatever.” He rolls his eyes and tromps to the shower.
When will this kid outgrow odor apathy? Is it a boy thing? I mean, I’m a girl. By the time I hit my teen years, my parents couldn’t get me out of the shower. And deodorant was self-explanatory.
I’m still shaking my head over this when I get one of those pokes from God.
My nose tunes in to physical odor well enough, but when’s the last time I took an appraising whiff of my spiritual odor?
Um, is that even possible?
Apparently Christians do have a distinct spiritual fragrance. The apostle Paul wrote, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
I’m guessing God prefers Christ’s aroma over Powder Fresh Right Guard, so how do I make sure I’m wearing the fragrance of Christ everyday? It’s not like I can buy a bottle of Jesus Perfume.
Surely as God’s child, someone who has accepted Christ’s payment for my sins, I have the fundamental fragrance, but humor my fancy. What if my actions, morals, and values also have an odor to God?
What if the materialism choking my house with possessions smells like curdled milk? Or my little white lies are morning breath in a world of no toothpaste? Or maybe my subtle, selfish tendencies reek like month-old anchovies.
Yikes. Maybe God’s up there going, “My daughter, I love you, but you need an odor check.” Or worse, He’s abandoned the polite approach and is instead thinking, “You stink, dear.”
“Just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2b), so should we love and sacrifice for others.
That word spoken in love when we’d rather snip, that action done for the sole benefit of someone else, that willingness to put another ahead of ourselves even when it hurts—these carry the fragrance of Christ’s sacrifice, whether we’ve showered or not.
Let’s face it. Deodorant can never cover the rotting anchovies in our lives. But Christ can, and the attitude of a living sacrifice never stinks.