A Pleasant Aroma

A Pleasant Aroma

Isn’t it interesting how we associate certain aromas with specific times of the year? Pumpkin spice signals a season of thankfulness; cinnamon, pine, and peppermint usher in the season of giving.

Some smells are so lovely and inviting we automatically inhale deeply as soon as we detect them. Others are, shall we say…disgusting! Within nanoseconds of detection, windows go up, recycled air is blasted, hands cover nose, and we scream, “Skunk!”

Smells are powerful triggers, aren’t they? They can cause a visceral reaction instantaneously which makes it extremely important that we are aware of our own aromatic contribution to our surroundings.

Therefore, it is with much compassion as your sister in the Lord that I must tell you—and I mean this in the nicest of ways—You smell!

It’s true. 

You have a distinct spiritual scent that follows you wherever you go. 

Don’t believe me? It’s true. The apostle Paul explained this concept to the church in Corinth:

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. Who is equal to such a task?"
2 Corinthians 2:14-16a

In other words, to God, his children smell pretty amazing. To those being saved, we are an aroma that brings life. To those who are perishing, we reek of death. 

It’s a profound truth and responsibility that I never considered before.

Some will love our “scent” while others will hate it.

Most importantly, their reaction to my scent has little to do with me, and everything to do with Christ in me.

Photo of young Asian girl smelling daisies

A Legit Sixth Sense

When you carefully consider this concept, it makes sense. Haven’t there been times when you just met someone or passed a person in the store and you somehow knew they shared your faith?

What about the time you engaged the Starbucks barista in conversation, and you instinctively knew they were a Christ follower? Or the time you explained your engine noises to the mechanic while simultaneously realizing she was a fellow Believer?

I’ve always assumed it was “something in my spirit” that recognized the connection, but I never considered what the “something” was. Now, I know: My spirit has a sense of smell—a legit sixth sense!

I’m not going off the deep end here—I promise. I’m not seeing dead people. 

I’m simply using Paul’s analogy to help us think in spiritual terms about something we’ve all experienced: S.O.

You can think of spirit odor (S.O.) like body odor (B.O.)—it’s not as obvious to us as it is to those around us. And the aroma of our spirit depends a lot on where we’ve spent our time. 

Let that sink in for a moment: We carry the smell of our environment with us wherever we go—physically and spiritually.

Photo of lit cigarette balanced on a clear glass ashtray with a red lighter next to it. Cigarette is lit with a trail of smoke rising.

As a little girl, when I spent time with my chain-smoking Nana and Papa, you would know it as soon as I walked into the room, because I smelled like I’d been with them. 🚬

Recently, our teenage son was tending our friends’ chickens while they were out of town. After spending quality time in the coop to refill their food and water, surrounded by the little cluckers, he smelled just like them…all the way home! 🐔

Similarly, when we spend time in the presence of the Lord, we begin to “smell” like Him, too. It’s not a physical smell, but a spiritual aroma. We smell different than we did before, and it’s pretty distinct. ❤️

I guess you could say that we smell out of this world! Detectable only in the spiritual realm, our aroma identifies us as having been with Christ.

As Alvin L. Reid says in his book, Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}:

“As we live daily, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in front of others, we become the aroma of Christ to those we encounter.”

Now, here’s what’s interesting: According to Paul, the exact same aroma that smells like LIFE to some will reek of DEATH to others.

This could be challenging and uncomfortable—especially when it involves family.

Have you ever experienced stress or conflict with someone for no apparent reason? Like every time you’re together something comes up and boom! Stress. 

What if, every time you’re around, they are reacting NOT to you, but to your spiritual aroma? Consider this:

  • Maybe their reaction to you has nothing to do with you personally.
  • Maybe their reaction has everything to do with your relationship with the Lord.
  • Maybe, to them, you stink—not in the physical realm, but spiritually, your smell is more than they can handle at the moment.
Close-up of Black woman lifting blossoms to her nose and inhaling the aroma

In other words: What if, every time you’re around, they are reacting NOT to you, but to your spiritual aroma?


What would happen if, rather than take it personally, you recognize it for what it is; choose not to be offended; and instead, ask God to give you grace and empathy in the situation.

During these unsettled times, it’s critical that we remember two equally important truths:

  1. We cannot control whether or not others like our scent.
  2. We can control what—and who—we smell like.

When you walk closely with the Lord, you will be the aroma of Christ. ❤️

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