“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
What does your life smell like at the moment? Can people around you ‘smell’ something unpleasant, or can they sense a beauty emanating from your being? We certainly can cover nasty smells for a while by applying some deodorizing spray. But eventually, the cover fades and if the cause of the smell is not dealt with at the core, the odor eventually comes back in full force. What good news we have that in Christ, our rotten sin-stench has been dealt with right at the heart. Our transformed life in Him can now be like a fragrant perfume – an offering that pleases the Lord and invites others around us to participate in this abundant life as we imitate Him!
In practical terms, how can we BE A Fragrant Offering to God?
You know, any offering we make to Jesus is a reflection of His offering poured out for us. If we are clean and smell good it is only because the stench of our sin has all been totally covered and absorbed by His precious blood, poured out as fragrant offering to God. So the secret to becoming a fragrant offering ourselves is to copy Christ in ever increasing ways. Like today’s verse tells us, LOVE is the key here – loving Him, others and ourselves in His name is the essence of our perfume! What matters most is faith expressing itself through love! (Galatians 5:6)
What if my offering is misunderstood or seems to go unnoticed?
Mary of Bethany, whom we refer to in this week’s devotion, has given us one of the most profound examples of what it looks like to pour out a fragrant offering to Christ. But to many people who witnessed Mary’s extravagant act of worship, her offering seemed like a complete waste. In the same way, some looking at Beth’s offering to Jesus could not see any beauty but only tragedy. I love this gem of a verse that I have discovered in the Old Testament. It illuminates for us what God plans to do with offerings poured out to him…
“All of us must eventually die. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him” (2 Samuel 14:14).
Rest assured that any life poured out as an offering to God is not going to be wasted and it is certainly not unnoticed by the only One who really matters. The pouring out will be costly and may not make sense to you or to anyone else at the time. It may even seem like a total waste. But be at peace. El Roi – the God who sees – will gather it up, spreading more blessing than you can imagine! (See our brother Paul’s example in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.)
Friends, in due time, others who are attuned to the sweet fragrance of Christ will get to ‘smell’ Him on you and be totally blessed. You know, the love (or lack of it) that we share around will be the ‘smell’ we will leave behind after we have departed this world – and it can linger for generations to come. So let us be filled with love, imitators of Christ in every way and follow the example of the many others who have left behind a lasting ‘Christ perfume’. If we do this, we will indeed BE A Fragrant Offering to God and to the world! And this stinky world sure needs it!
Inspiration for the journey:
Hey, if you are willing to ‘sniff around’ a bit, you can get a whiff of the perfume of the saints that still abides on the earth today. Many amazing testimonies serve as a sweet offering to the Saviour and a blessed example to us who are still on our way Home, still slogging through the smelly stuff. One perfume that still lingers strongly is that of Dr. David Livingstone, the great missionary to Africa. He once made this statement when asked about what he had sacrificed by following Christ and surrendering all to Him… “I have not sacrificed a thing!” To him, following Jesus did not seem like a sacrifice at all for the satisfaction and joy of fellowship with Jesus.
But there is even more we can smell out. In Mark 10:28-30 we read the account where Peter tells the Lord Jesus that they have left everything behind, giving up all to follow Him. He and the first disciples were wondering if it was all going to be worth it. Take a look at the Lord’s reply and I wonder if you can imagine the gleam in Jesus’ eyes like I can and smell the fresh air… “Yes Peter, it sure is going to be worth it!” Yes, one day Beth’s surrender and perfumed offering through such a heartbreaking trial will seem like no sacrifice at all! One day my surrendering through grief and the taking up of my cross will seem like nothing when I look upon the face of the One I love most and receive my reward. Yes, one day the pain of your poured-out, fragrant life will be worth it too. Take a deep breath and imagine… all injustices made right and made new. Reconciliation with our Heavenly Father and reunion with the precious ones who are with Him now. Ultimate joy, peace, purpose and rich love overflowing in abundant life that will extend throughout eternity. Imagine what it will be like to share our glorious inheritance together with Jesus Christ! YES! It will be worth it in every possible way! Breathe it all in again… mmm… now that smells good!
Songs to encourage you:
Pour My Love on You By Phillips, Craig and Dean
At Your Feet by Casting Crowns
This is My Offering by Third Day
A book to build you up:
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young