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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

January Reflection by Richard Parrish - Let’s Smell Better In 2019


“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. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” [1]


My resolution for 2019 is to smell better!

Many believe a New Year offers freshness. At the front end of 2019, we see it as a fresh start; an opportunity to correct what was wrong last year. We promise ourselves “We’ll do better this year.”

We long to experience positive change that will advance our positions, health, and relationships. We want unity to displace divisiveness in our nation.

However, deep down we recognize: The fruit of 2018 (and previous years) tends to sour quickly, and its stench is strong – despite one’s political affiliation, faith persuasion, or personal resolve.

Notwithstanding this awareness, we once again determine: This year can be different! We have a fresh opportunity to correct what’s wrong and improve our situation.

So, the resolutions begin!

“I will eat right, exercise more, become more active politically, work harder, network more effectively, spend less, invest more, and be a better father, mother or spouse.”

Have you ever wondered: “Why are most resolutions centered around self-improvement? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of self-improvement. I just find it interesting that the large portion of resolutions people make are personal.

“Smelling better” isn’t generally on our resolution list.

Maybe it should be!

I like the smell of something new. What is there about freshness that permeates our senses? The fragrance produced by a fresh rain floating upwards from the dusty ground is almost intoxicating to me. That smell is pleasant, life-giving… refreshing!

Have you ever purchased, or sat in a new car? Can you recall the smell? The scent of newness stimulates us.

My car is not new. Although it’s eleven years old, it’s still in great shape. It’s paid for, and that makes it even sweeter! However, over the years it has lost it’s “new car” smell.

Here’s what I know. Smelling good requires on-going maintenance. I need a shower more than once a week. And without my attention to personal hygiene, the fragrance that originates from me is not that pleasant!

However, having an attractive scent isn’t just confined to personal hygiene.

Paul, the apostle, reminds us, as followers of Christ, we are “…the aroma of Christ to God...” And, that fragrance is spread to others by our conduct.

In speaking with an individual recently, she told me of how she and her family had become dissuaded by the church.

As a child, she recalled how people who professed to follow Jesus treated her and her family. “The back-stabbing, unkindness and spiteful behavior became too much to handle,” she said. It was evident:

For her and her family, that type of behavior stunk!

The apostle Paul uses an image of a Roman processional. The conquering heroes would march in a parade line, demonstrating to the crowd the bounty, and their enemies they had captured in battle. As part of this ceremonial processional, incense was burned.

As the soldiers marched in the parade line, the fragrance of incense was inescapable. With each step taken, the spectators inhaled the aroma. It was impossible for those watching the parade to avoid the pleasant odor of the incense.

The closer the soldiers were to the source of the incense, the more they smelled like it. As a follower of Jesus, others are observing me. To radiate the aroma of Jesus to others (and to God) this year will require me to stay close to him.

Let’s smell better this year. Let’s make sure we are so close to Jesus that our lives will radiate the pleasant odor of Christ to those around us.


  • Do others pick up the smell of Jesus from me?

  • How close am I to Jesus?

  • What keeps me from getting close to Christ?

  • What practices will be helpful for me to exercise this year to stay close to the Lord?


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Co 2:14–16.

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