Our ministry schedule has Jan and I traveling several times each month. Most of the time the host church or conference coordinator arranges a hotel room for our stay. In each hotel we visit, there are things available to us in case we forgot to bring all our toiletries. They are provided in little bottles that contain body lotion, hair conditioner, and shampoo. Normally, the quality of the hotel determines the quality of the items provided.
On one trip, we were staying in a well-known hotel chain. I decided to use the body lotion provided by the hotel instead of mine. Thinking they would have something of quality, I smeared it on not checking the fragrance. Well,…that was a mistake. It smelled like the cheapest of the cheap perfumed lotions. I asked Jan to take a whiff. She said, “That’s really bad!” Back into the bathroom I went to wash off the stench and reapply my own lotion. I learned a lesson that day. Smell before you apply.
2 Corinthians 2 speaks about our lives being a Christ-like fragrance that rises up to God. For the people we come into contact with the fragrance of Christ in us can be perceived in one of two ways. If a person is being saved it smells like life. If they are perishing it smells like death. Paul concludes his thought on fragrance by informing his readers that sincerity is what keeps us smelling like Jesus and not like cheap religious perfume. Sincerity can be translated as clear, pure or genuine. To show the contrast, Paul said he was not an insincere huckster who was trying to sell his “goods” to the Corinthian church. He said, “We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority knowing that God is watching us.”
The sweet fragrance of our salvation remains pure and pleasing to people when our lives and ministries are free from murky motives; the pollution of pride; and a disingenuousness that lacks authenticity. Anything that is not sincere will not pass the smell check. If any negative odor is being emitted from your life take the time to wash it off like I did with the cheap hotel body lotion. You will come away smelling to the world like God intended.
The day when I washed off the cheap body lotion and reapplied my own, I came out of the bathroom and asked Jan to check me out. She leaned into my neck, smiled and said, “That’s more like it!” Passing the smell test of sincerity will open doors of unique opportunity because we are no longer an offensive smell in the nostrils of the people God calls us to serve.