We are Christmas-a-holics at Chez Underwood. Our attic is full of decorations and we’ve been known to have more than 10 trees decorated for the season. In fact, last year, we decorated both our house in Georgia and “The Cottage” in Alabama. I love all the twinkling lights, handpicked ornaments and especially each of our Nativity sets. My daughter loves the outdoor decorations and putting lights up on the house. And my husband … well, he loves all of it. In fact, he loves it so much that our guest room is Christmas themed year round. In order to keep the Christmas-y vibe alive during the blistering hot summers here in south Georgia, he has invested in scented candles. The fragrances of Christmas draw you in when you are in that room … the thick evergreen scent melts into the warmth of cinnamon and you want to curl up in the Christmas throws and watch your favorite Christmas movie.
Scents affect us. The fragrance of honeysuckle can take us back to childhood summers. Walking into the kitchen with an apple pie in the oven reminds us of grandmother’s house. And just the hint of chocolate chip cookies can bring a smile to almost any face.
Scents affect God as well. Time and again in Exodus and Leviticus we are told that various offerings presented a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Paul reminded the church at Ephesus that Christ’s sacrifice was the ultimate fragrant offering:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
As we become more like Christ, our lives too become fragrant offerings to the Lord … pleasing aromas of the sacrifice of self. Just as Paul gave clear instruction on what we were to “put off,” he also offers us guidance about “putting on” the righteousness of Christ.
What are these traits that are fragrant to the Lord?
- Gracious speech – As we put away our foolish speech, we replace it with kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32).
- Discerning hearts – We lay aside the covetous desires of the old life and find instead wisdom and discernment about what is “good and right and true” (5:8-10).
- Thankful attitudes – Pursuing Christ, we move beyond the bitterness and anger of the flesh and instead diligently live in gratitude for the work of the Lord in us and around us (5:19-20).
- Personal sacrifice – The change is us is best seen as we give up our excess and instead live sacrificially, learning to submit to others and seek their best instead of our own (5:21).
You are probably thinking – much like I am – HOW is this accomplished? These changes are not small and certainly not simple. In fact, we are unable to make the leap into these traits on our own. By the grace of God, we don’t have to do this on our own … He gives us instruction and direction about how to “put on” Christlikeness, how to become that pleasing aroma to Him.
Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23-24 ESV
It is the renewal of our minds that changes us! Not our actions or thoughts or intentions but as Paul shares in Romans, we are transformed through Him, through obedience to Him, through living for Him.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV
We are called to present ourselves as living sacrifices … Oh that the sacrifice of our lives would be a fragrant offering, a pleasing aroma to Him.
How has God worked in you to renew your mind, to bring you more into Christlikeness?