But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 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. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Cor. 2:14-16 NIV)
The word translated equal in this verse is the Greek word hikanos (ἱκανός), which means sufficient, enough, competent, ample in amount or fit in character, worthy. Who indeed is sufficient, competent, or worthy for such a task? What an amazing thing that we could bear, spread, be the fragrance of Christ. Duncan Campbell has written,
“This surely is the ultimate reality and the supreme wonder of human existence, that God can be glorified in us. In other words–we are to be ‘living epistles.’ After all, the greatest contribution you or I can make to the cause of Christ, is the impact of our unconscious influence, and that influence impregnated by the life of Jesus. We will have failed in our object, unless we bring back to our schools, our colleges, our homes and our common task, something of the uncommon fragrance of Jesus. So let us yield to His indwelling that Christ may be able to express His loveliness through us.”—The Price and Power of Revival, Duncan Campbell [emphasis mine]
“[T]he impact of our unconscious influence.” Isn’t it even more amazing, that God could do all this through us – spread the fragrance of Christ’s love and life – and we be unconscious of it! That His Presence, living in me, indwelling me, goes with me and leaves a fragrance of Jesus, inviting, welcoming, attracting – or, sadly, repelling.
Paul says in the above verse that God is spreading this aroma through us. No one is competent or worthy or sufficient in themselves. Jesus is the sufficient, enough, competent, ample in amount, fit in character, worthy One. As Paul says a little later, “Not that we are competent (hikanos) in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (2 Cor. 3:5 NIV). But rather it is Christ in me and you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) as we “yield to His indwelling” and follow Him in the triumphal procession, a willing captive, captivated by His love.
Godliness is the mark of a person whose life is centred in God – a person who has become a vessel of the presence of God. Wherever such a person goes, the atmosphere is permeated by a faint, but unique and pervasive fragrance. There may not be any preaching or other religious activity. Yet people become strangely aware of eternal issues. Teaching Letter No. 24: The Fruit of the Holy Spirit, Derek Prince
It all comes back to the Presence. Abiding in the Presence, the Vine. He in me and I in him. My life centered in Him. My eyes fixed on Jesus, not on myself. I stop trying to be “wonderful” but let Him be the Wonderful One. “Be still and know …” “Seek first the Kingdom.” Stop trying to gain approval, be somehow impressive, be something I am not. But just be what He made me to be – just be. And as that happens His love can flow through me and I will carry the fragrant aroma of his sacrificial love with me wherever I go (Ephesians 5:2).
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars, and the moon— all of these simply are as well— yet what a ministry and service they render on our behalf! So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.” In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense and reasoning, and Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father knows our circumstances, and if we will stay focused on Him, instead of our circumstances, we will grow spiritually— just as “the lilies of the field.”
The people who influence us the most are not those who detain us with their continual talk, but those who live their lives like the stars in the sky and “the lilies of the field”— simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold and shape us.
If you want to be of use to God, maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ by staying focused on Him, and He will make use of you every minute you live— yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of your life, that you are being used of Him. –from My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition, Oswald Chambers
Image public domain, Bureau of Land Management California