A colleague approached me in front of some coworkers and asked, “So what’s your attitude, as a Christian, to euthanasia?” Everyone stopped their conversation and all eyes were on me. I spent 20 minutes not in debate, but trying to share the aroma of Christ with those who didn’t know Him: His love, compassion, unchanging character, and absolute righteousness. As I shared about Jesus and His love, I prayed that my coworkers would get a whiff of the character of God—not the erudite arguments of a theologian.

Paul starts out his second letter to the church in Corinth with a number of exhortations, including: We are called to smell of Jesus wherever we go, not merely among other believers (2 Corinthians 2:15). It’s so easy to sound and look spiritual—to say Christian things using spiritual words on a Sunday morning; but when a nonbeliever, maybe an anarchist (like my work colleague), asks for a real answer to a hot topic, is our reply permeated with the beautiful aroma of Christ? If not, do we fudge the issue or launch into a fiery debate?

The apostle encouraged the early church to be so full of Jesus’ love that He couldn’t be hidden. The aroma of Christ would go before them, pervading all their conversations and lingering behind long after His chosen vessel had left their company. When we speak to other believers, it builds their faith and brings more life; to those who reject the gospel and sneer, it makes their spiritual death even more obvious as they willingly reject the Savior (2 Corinthians 2:16).

What a marvelous image and a challenging lesson for us! In all circumstances and in all conversations, may we “with sincerity and with Christ’s authority” reveal His fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:17).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Peter 2:1-25