Don’t you just smell one of those forced analogies coming, like someone trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole? Actually, if you make the round hole big enough, the peg will just drop right in there, no probs. Here’s the big hole…

I made a delicious stew yesterday, and being one of those garlic lovers (in moderation-I don’t want to drive people away) I put a clove of garlic into the mix. Recovering the balance that wasn’t eaten from the fridge today, I opened the container and a strong odor not unlike skunk jumped out and slapped me in the face. It was enough to put me and my guests, in this case my family, off the meal.

I’m one of those weird people who like the smell of skunk in moderation, but not when it issues from food I’m just about to eat and serve up for others. Most people detest the smell. Almost all food, if it’s not fresh, can stink.

So now you see the square peg coming, no?

Sometimes us Christians, and for that matter people of any religious or philosophical persuasion, stink. We can put people completely off what we want them to enjoy, which for the Christian is, or should be, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We act and speak in such a way that people turn their noses up at the gospel before they even hear it. We might even fool ourselves into thinking we “smell” nice, when others are detecting something far less appetizing.


I’m not talking about the natural revulsion which many unbelievers have to the Christian faith. If we are hated because of what we believe, for being Christians, and for living in a godly way (2 Timothy 3:12), we know that we are living as we should:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:22-23 NIV).

Paul had my peg in mind when he put the above principle into relationship with our sense of smell:

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death, to the other, the fragrance of life” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

So then, some stinks are just plain healthy and wholesome.


The alternative to the aroma of a godly life is hypocrisy – an ungodly odor. If we’re upsetting and offending people for all the wrong reasons, if we are sour or bitter, and if people don’t want to be near us because we stink of hypocrisy, we are not pleasing our God, we are not gaining great reward, and we are fooling ourselves. An important part of the walk of faith is to keep a check on ourselves (not on others). We do this by measuring ourselves by God’s standards as found in the Bible (and not by ours), by prayer, by honest introspection, and by gauging the response of others to our words and actions.


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