Recently, I came down with some sort of virus. I was sick an entire weekend. Thankfully, by Monday, I was feeling better. I knew there would be chores to catch up on. I decided to start with the laundry. I opened the laundry chute and soon, there was an avalanche of clothes in the laundry room. I think I did nine loads of laundry in one day! The house badly needed to be cleaned and we had zero groceries. I stood in my kitchen, thinking, “Do I really have to do everything?” I was frustrated and irritated. After all, I had been the one who had been sick!
At that moment, I had a choice to make. I could continue down the WIM (“Woe is Me”) path, which would happily feed my sinful flesh OR I could choose to take my eyes off myself and fix them on the Lord. Both “paths” would have resulted in getting the housework done. But my motives would have been very different. The WIM path would have included the WIM soundtrack, full of negative, disappointing thoughts. In the second scenario, however, I would have thanked God that I was able to rest and sleep throughout the weekend—exactly what I needed to recover—and been thankful for my husband’s sacrificial care.
This is just one example of the countless times each day we have a choice: we can allow our flesh, our sinful nature, to guide our actions OR we can fix our eyes on the Lord and choose to be a fragrant aroma to our husbands and others. And no, I don’t mean the kind of aroma we associate with lotions or perfumes. I mean the kind of aroma that Paul writes about in Ephesians. “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Eph 5:2 NLT). Paul exhorts us in another passage, “But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, he has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume. As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us” (2 Cor 2:14-15 TLB).
It’s really a lovely image to consider ourselves as fragrant aromas to others. What do we do when we smell something fragrant and soothing? I know that I seek out the source of the fragrance. I love the smell of honeysuckle in the spring; when it blooms I love finding the bush and enjoying its sweet fragrance. Likewise, I know from my family’s reaction how aromatic food grabs their attention. They can be in four corners of the house, but when they smell something that stirs their appetite, they make a trip to the kitchen to find out what I am cooking. Sweet, wholesome fragrances and aromas are soothing to our senses and draw people together.
So…how can I be a fragrant aroma to my husband? God’s Word tells us. First, I must offer myself as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Romans 12:1). This means that I give up what I want, my desires (i.e. my desire to be served) and place others’ needs before my own. That is a very big hurdle to overcome, it does not happen overnight. It happens by continually renewing our minds according to the truth of God’s Word (Romans 12:2). It means that every day, moment by moment, we die to what our “self” desires and ask God to give us hearts for what HE desires. Change occurs through God’s Word. The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more my mind is transformed. The more knowledge I gain of my Savior, the more I will spread the sweet fragrance of Christ. My husband will notice this fragrance more than Calvin Klein’s Euphoria!
I have not always been a pleasant aroma to my husband. Sometimes, I would imagine I have reminded him more of burnt meatloaf than Christ! But God does not give up on us, and I am so grateful to say that He is gently revealing what I need to see. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Phil 1:6 NLT).
Growing in Grace