When’s the last time you drove your car past a skunk that someone else had previously driven over? I drove BY one just yesterday and that awful pungent odor stayed with me for at least a mile, uggh ! On the other hand what special smell that you really enjoy can you recall right now? For two sweet young ladies in our church, Arielle and Rachelle, they would probably say freshly brewed coffee ! Others of us may say the aroma of bread as its baking or your favorite cake. In my early college years i would sometime drive past the Stroehmann bread factory on my way home, Mmmmm ! The sense of smell can be a good or a not so good thing, ha !
This week I had asked for a small food shower to be done for a needy family who lives not far from our church. Last night many responded with all kinds of good things and as I took it over the man of the house was so grateful and emotional at the outpouring of love shown to them all. What does this have to do with smells? I believe such an offering smelled good to God !
In the Bible God uses the illustration of smell to preach to us about our hearts as we give. In one place we smell the odor of the skunk even as God’s people gave ! Listen to this: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord. . .bring no more vain oblations, incense is an abomination unto Me. . . I cannot away with !” (Is.1:11-13). Did you notice what God said to the Jews that still applies to us today? What purpose are your gifts? Why do you give? Is it to be noticed, to rack up points with God or others? To assuage some guilt? Because its expected? All these frankly stink to God – what does smell good is the right purpose, namely because we truly love the Lord and just want to give back in some small way in light of how much He has done for us. I like most incense smells and that burned in the temple was reported to have smelled awesome but to God, odor aside, it didn’t here because the hearts of His people had lacked love for Him. They were going through the motions without the Master going through them. How about you?
On the other hand, the great coffee smell, baking bread or whatever fragrance you prefer is the smell of the heart that gives right. Paul received a “food shower” of sorts from his Philippians brethren and his “thank you note” back is worth re-reading here, “But I rejoiced in the Lord GREATLY, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, wherein you were also careful but ye lacked opportunity. . . but I have all, and abound, I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet SMELL, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” (Phil.4:10-18) !!
A pastor may be very pleased at the heartfelt offerings of his congregation towards a poor family but God is much more as He equates such a sacrifice as a very enticing and fine smelling act of compassion. It is acts like these that we can do that are rooted in the heart of a genuine love for God that overcome the odor of the ripest dead skunk out there. So make the world smell a bit better today !!!