“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
(Please read 2 Corinthians 4:14-16)
Incense, noted for its smell, figured prominently in the Old Testament. Often referred to as “sweet incense,” it was burned daily in the tabernacle or temple on a special altar. God gave Moses the formula for making the incense and described it as “a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer” (Exodus 30:30, NIV), indicating that He enjoyed the odor. He also commented several times on the pleasing aromas of burnt offerings and other sacrifices.
God still seeks a pleasant aroma from his children. As our text indicates, Christians are to be the “aroma of Christ” and to spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. To those who accept that knowledge and believe in Christ, his aroma is the “fragrance of life.”
Our prayers also become a sweet smell to our Father. David pled, “May my prayer be set before you like incense” (Psalm 141:2), and John’s visions included the sight of golden bowls of incense, “which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:4).
And Paul thanked the Philippians for gifts they had sent to him, calling them “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (4:18).
So there are several ways in which we can provide sweet fragrance for God’s pleasure: through our prayers, by providing material assistance to others, by doing what we can to spread the knowledge of Christ, and by our very status as faithful believers and followers of Christ.
Bodily cleanliness is important, of course, and we don’t want to neglect it. But let’s spend even more time and effort on the fragrance that really counts with God.