A Fragrant Aroma
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
As Paul transitions out of what not to do, he tells us what to do. I think it is prudent to note that these aren’t things we have to do in order to be saved or receive God’s grace, these are things we get to do because we receive His grace. These are things to strive for that, as we read throughout the book of James, is a result of the perfection of our faith. Being in this sinful world and born of this world, we must make effort to break away from it. Being a Christian isn’t all peaches and lemon drops, it’s a tough life to live but, through refining in the fire, we are made perfect in Him.
The bible talks about being children of God a lot, I think we tend to skip over that. We just see it as “yeah, He created us, so we are His children.” It’s actually more intimate than that. Just as our children come to us, so too we are to come before the Father. One strong example that I am thinking of is actually one I try to repeat as often as I can. As kids, we ask our parents EVERYTHING, don’t we? Why this, what that, how this, who that…the list goes on and on. If you have kids or have spent any amount of time with kids, it gets pretty annoying doesn’t it? As children of God, we are to do the same to Him! Yet, we don’t. We go to other people, other sources and then we get the wrong impression of God. It would be like as a child, instead of asking your mom why you cannot have ice cream right before going to bed, you instead called up your aunt or uncle and asked them that question. They could 1) refer you back to your parents or 2) make up a response just to satisfy your question, even if the answer is not true. How often do we ask God Himself?
Verse 2 is sticking out to me in an interesting way. We read it as a complete sentence, with Christ as the example. I think we all get that. Suddenly, I am thrust back into my collegiate mind of writing papers and remembering that a phrase that is enclosed within commas should only be done so if when that phrase is removed, it is still a complete sentence. Let’s see what that looks like:
And walk in love, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. We suddenly hit “rewind” and are thrust back to Romans 12:1, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. With Christ as our example, He showed us the ultimate act of love: sacrifice. So too should we, as Christ followers, sacrifice all we have for God and His people.
The reference to a fragrant aroma comes from the introduction of sacrifices in the bible to the Jews in Leviticus 1:17, 17 Then he shall tear it by its wings, but shall not sever it. And the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the wood which is on the fire; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. Offerings to the Lord please Him greatly. So then, as we sacrifice ourselves, we please God. This is how we worship Him.
How can we give an offering to God today? We might immediately think of money, or even giving of our time to help someone in need, or doing something for others in place of doing something for ourselves. How about our hurts? What about our guilt and shame? When our God says He wants all of us, he means ALL of us. He wants our hurts, habits, and hang-ups so that we no longer have to suffer under them.
What fragrant aroma will you send God’s way today?