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What’s that smell?!
Karen Spiegelberg
by Karen Spiegelberg
December 26, 2023

Taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell. Those are the five senses. Each is important in some way. The sense of smell has been called the underrated sense, until you stop and think about it. Smell is the sense most strongly associated with our memory. The smell of baking cookies can remind us of our grandmother’s home. But the smell of rotting food can remind us that we forgot to take the garbage to the curb. “What’s that smell?” we ask as we open the garage door.

The people of Corinth might have figuratively asked that same question of the apostle Paul when they received his first letter. There were many issues that needed to be dealt with—divisions in the church, open immorality, abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Paul had to confront them head-on, but his message was repulsive to their nostrils. It stunk. They didn’t want to be called out for their iniquities. In his second letter, smell what Paul says we are as God’s messengers: “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life” (2 Corinthians 2:15,16). 

So what’s that smell? It’s the sweet smell of the gospel message, and it wafts among us. Its odor attracts some and repels others. But let us never give up on breathing it in and sharing it with others. It’s even better than the smell of Grandma’s cookies!