While teaching fifth grade as a brand-new educator, we had an exceptionally warm start to March. We pulled out our shorts, capris, and t-shirts, opened windows, and spent extra time outside. I had 30 students packed into a very small room. The smell of spring in the air was overwhelmed by such a stink that if you were baking chocolate chip cookies in the same room, you wouldn’t know it. It was a far-from-glorious preteen aroma, and it was bad...really bad.
We covered all kinds of scenarios in my education classes, but addressing body odor on the job was not one of them. So I did the best I could because this could not continue. I distinctly remember standing in front of my students with the warm air sweeping the classroom and telling them, “I shower every morning and put deodorant on both armpits for my benefit and yours. For the sake of all of us, please do the same. And another tip…spraying perfume or cologne on top of stink doesn’t work. Let’s make sure we’re smelling good for one another.” I wish the message sunk in, but it didn't.
I could talk to students every day about good hygiene; I could give them their own sticks of deodorant and bars of soap. But having the right tools and the knowledge to use them doesn’t guarantee that they will.
2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” This verse reminds me that the fragrance we carry depends on the choices we make. We can’t be led if we don’t want to be led. We won’t make good "hygiene" decisions if we don't allow the Lord to cleanse us and pour His fragrance into us.
I’d like to say I always follow His lead and smell like Jesus everywhere I go, but I don’t. Sometimes I smell less than glorious. It’s so tempting to cover up a sinful nature with a knock-off version of his fragrance, like sprinkling on a little church on Sunday, putting some money in the offering, reading a Bible verse or passage in order to check it off a list of to-dos once in a while but living for myself the rest of the time. There’s something off with a bargain, pseudo-Christian fragrance that either fades quickly or makes my stink worse.
Let's ask ourselves and Him frequently, “How do I smell?". Am I wearing a scent that's more like the stink of the world or am I wearing the beautiful fragrance of the knowledge of our Lord and Savior?