Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

What is your stench?


What is your stench?

2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

This verse has been on my heart for the last week (verse 15) but in order for the verses to be understood appropriately then I added verses 14-17 to get Paul’s full thought as he wrote to the church in Corinth. As you may or may not be aware the Corinthian church was a very carnal church, it was very worldly and much of both of the letters written by Paul to the Corinthian believers were correction in practices that should not have been in the church in the first place. This is as relevant today as it was to the first generation of Christians.

When I think about these verses it brings me back to the early nineties and the bracelets that were popular back then such as W.W.J.D? (Which stood for What Would Jesus Do?) and was usually worn as an item of clothing such as a T-shirt or a bracelet, I liked seeing this as the wearer was reminded that his/her actions may or may not have been worthy of what they were called to as a Christian.

Mr. Short Fuse

I admit it, I am Mr. Short Fuse, I pray on a daily basis that I don’t lose it, if I am Mr. Calm to you that is due to the grace of God and a work of God in my life. Prior to becoming a Christian I was always in conflict, silly things ticked me off and often times had it not been for good friends I may have been involved in brawling situations that may have done me damage. I am fiercely loyal and if you came to hurt my friends or family, I would come out swinging. I might not always win but I would get my point across.

A time I remember was when my dad and I went to a charity football (soccer for the Americans) game between two Glasgow teams called Celtic and Rangers at the stadium that was the home stadium of Rangers. (Called Ibrox) It would take to long to do the background behind this but traditionally Rangers are known as the “Protestant club” and wear blue, Celtic are known as “the Catholic club” and wear green and white. Dad (a Rangers fan) wore a jacket that was predominantly green heading for the Rangers home end.

As we were crossing the road at a traffic light a snowball flew between me and my dad, due to the highly charged nature of the fixture, even although it was an over 35’s game or retired professionals, there were still 50,000 people in Ibrox for this fixture. Tickets were only 5 pounds and it was meant to be a family atmosphere, however traditional rivalry and tribalism took over and the thrower mistook my dad as a Celtic fan in the wrong end of the ground. I snapped and wanted to take the guy on, the red mist enveloped and I was at Defcon 1 (Highest alert status prior to a strike) in one fell swoop. Dad pulled me back and calmed me down but I was still annoyed going into the game.

What is the point of this? I wasn’t a Christian at that point of my life so I was acting based on what my flesh judged as the right thing to do. Something that is worth noting from a Christian point of view if we are talking to one who is living in sin, if they have not accepted Jesus as their saviour and being ministered to by the Holy Spirit, they will not have the same convictions as you.

However, if we are a Christian we should be looking to imitate Christ and that is really what I am trying to say. I want to act like him, I want to love like he did, I want to tell the world of his life changing power and lastly I want to stench like he does. We have to be sincere, want to immerse our whole lives in our Christian walk. This is the hard part, I have learned recently. A recent vote in my homeland did not go the way I wanted it to, but it made me realize that even although I was many thousand miles away, I was still spending too much time on things that were temporary and really had no eternal value. In heaven I doubt I will care if Scotland went independent or not.

Mr. Non-Perfect

I am also Mr. Non-Perfect, I am kind of glad that I am not, as I know me better than most folks and I would be the first to state that should I ever attain what I regard as perfection then I fear that piety and pride would sneak in. So i am quite happy to be “Mr. Non-Perfect” it keeps me humble. There are times in my life that I don’t handle things well, I don’t read situations the way one would expect and I am very prone to “brain farts”, lastly I know that I talk too much and quite often steamroller people in conversations, usually adding very little to the original points, I pray daily about things like this and we all have our inner wars.

What is a Christ like stench?

You have to have a heart transplant, you have to sort out your “kardia” (Greek word that is used in New Testament for “heart”) I was blessed to be given the opportunity to share and teach at an elderly home a week last Sunday and I shared from Romans 10 and shared about the heart of a Christian. We will not grow the way God wants us to if we are “tick the box Christians” and go through the motions in order to get things done and checked in order to get a “holy gold star”.

That is not real and genuine Christianity, real Christianity is hard, it is for me at least. It is a daily prayer life to make me more like Jesus, to love people both when it is easy and when they tick me off. To love people when I get hurt, to prefer others before myself, I am selfish and self-focused in nature and this stuff does not come easily.

Straight from the heart

It is not enough to just have the appearance of holy and to not let it escape your mouth, the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ tells us in the gospel of Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV version)

“10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

If we have a “potty heart” as I wrote earlier then eventually that will corrupt our whole walk with Jesus. We need to have daily “kardia” work. We have to be as Christ said “salt and light”. We are operating a guerrilla warfare in which we are the spiritual terrorists, (this world is no longer our home) and we have to infiltrate and show the love of Christ. We have to be different in order to show a living example of Christ. Some of the strongest and most powerful sermons that are preached are not from a pulpit.

This is a challenge as much for me as it is for you dear reader, let us go out and be the stench of Jesus.

God bless and I hope this was a challenge, please feel free to share, comment or like below

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