Paul interjects an interesting concept of how God leads and uses us through life for His glory.
12 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
As I read this today, I am reminded of another verse that is very common in Romans 8, “28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Now, it’s difficult to say what exactly the “door” was that was opened for Paul. In its place it seems like he had an opportunity to go to Troas, or maybe even Macedonia. This isn’t the important part, however. The important part is that God guided Paul to do something and he was obedient to follow through. Paul’s intent might have been to visit Titus, but God had other plans. Has that ever happened to you? You feel the calling of God to do something: visit a location, start something new, say something to someone, and when it happens the result you expected is different? In this instance, Paul thought God was telling him to go to Troas to visit Titus, but instead, God had something bigger planned.
Paul had the opportunity to share the gospel with others while he was there. Certainly, if he had met up with Titus, the opportunity still would have existed, but would he have been too distracted to fulfill the purpose God had for him there at that specific time? This is why it is so important to not only listen to the leading of God through His Holy Spirit, but to be obedient to it; we have no idea what is on the other side that God wants us to accomplish. Part of the going without knowing is to build our faith and trust in God. In our world where knowledge is power, we want to know everything before we jump in. This requires no faith or trust. This is how we know God, by being obedient without knowing everything that lies ahead. It isn’t about what we are doing, it is about how much we are willing to trust God through it. Paul’s little story here in his letter explains the faithfulness and the glory of God.
Paul’s explanation in verse 14-16 about our presence as Christians in places is something we need to really take to heart. Being born again in Christ there are two things we exemplify: life and death. The death is to our old self, to worldliness, to the slavery of sin. Everyone can relate to this side, especially those who knew us beforehand, because we are born into it. We are born into selfishness, sinfulness, and without the presence of God. The other side Christians can identify with and non-Christians don’t fully understand. We are called into community with one another and when we are reunited, it bolsters the spirit as a fresh reminder of who we are. So many times I have met other Christians for the first time and God uses that reunion as the fragrance of Christ to refresh and renew others and myself. Both of these things are revealed through us by the guidance of the Holy Spirit who resides in us as believers and followers of Christ.
How often do we ignore these callings? How often do we miss the open doors God has put before us to walk through? How often do we decide not to follow what God tells us simply because we don’t know how it’s going to “pan out”? This is our problem from the very start. We refuse to believe and trust in God for His salvation, thinking it’s some trick for non-profit organizations to get our money. But what does Paul say at the end? He isn’t trying to peddle the Word of God like many. Yes, people will use God to try to make money, but their loss is eternal. But this teaching isn’t about money, it’s about the truth of God. It really saddens me how much people are afraid to enter into a relationship with God because of what other humans have done. If we can just realize that if God is really who He says He is, then we have nothing to fear! If God really exists, then don’t you think He is worth investigating to have the relationship with Him that He made available to us? I mean, we are talking about the being that spoke everything into existence.
I gain nothing out of trying to convince you to give Him a chance in your life, but you gain everything by being in a relationship with Him. I’m not talking about money or fame, rather audience with the One True God, creator of the heavens and the earth. You get to discover your true purpose for living and experience pure and holy joy for the rest of your life. Don’t you think it’s worth taking a chance?