Modern manufacturing and advertising salesmanship has become very ingenious in what they produce and encourage the public to buy – at least that is so in what we call the ‘western’ world. Many of these things are far from essential, for example, the expensive things that are promoted to make us smell nice, to create pleasing aromas of various kinds.

This thought came to our minds as we read the opening chapters of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians. Paul, after his strictures in his first letter about aspects of their behaviour, has a number of positive encouraging things to say. He writes, “I made up my mind not to make any painful visit to you” [2 v. 1], then adds “I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love I have for you.” [v.4] This is the spirit of a parent in dealing with a wayward child they still love. When there is need for deserved words, and even actions, of disapproval, all such must still be done with a loving spirit.

Paul says, “Thanks be to God who … through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved’ [v.14,15] What great examples of a loving attitude should we be toward one another. Even when we feel the need to point out behaviour that is not good, it is essential that we do this with a loving spirit.
But what of others who despise and even sneer at the name of Christ? Well Paul says, “we are (also) the aroma of Christ … among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” [v.15,16]. Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” [John 9 v.5] True believers represent Christ in this world and must do their best to be both a “light” and an “aroma” that is evident in the increasing darkness around us.

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