But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things? For we do not market the word of God for profit like so many. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.
– 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 CSB
Paul is thanking God because he is trustworthy to lead his people triumphantly in ministry, even though this doesn’t mean everyone we minister to will triumph along with us. He places the aroma of Christ upon his ministers. To some the aroma of Christ will be a stench, to others, it will be the smell of life.
I am not in a season right now where I perceive my ministry as a “triumphal procession”. I see it more often as a labor of love or even a struggle with little results. I think Paul called it a triumphal procession because Christ has already won every victory that I am claiming as a minister of the gospel. The labor is not mine to make, the struggle has been completed by Jesus. All I’m doing is going around proclaiming his victories. Whether everyone agrees or is happy about it is of no lasting importance.
Lord, help me defeat my deep-seated desires for peoples’ approval. I often want to put on an aroma that is less polarizing and more palatable to the world than yours. But you alone have conquered death and sin and given humanity back our right to be in a relationship with our Creator. Only your aroma is worth spreading, and I can rest in your victories rather than feel overwhelmed by the lack of results I see. The results are yours. My work is triumphal worship, not striving labor.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.