Monday, January 11, 2021

Of Aromas & Fragrances

 By: Joanne Viola

Sitting in the early morning darkness, I try to sort through thoughts and emotions of the recent events which have unfolded in our country. There is no way to express the sadness for there are no words to adequately describe it all.

Walking back into the kitchen to pour a second cup of coffee, I see the bag, a Christmas gift of homemade potpourri, and decide today is the day to use it.

Emptying the contents into a pot, filling it with water, and turning it on to simmer, I wonder if the aroma will be as wonderful as last year.

Picking up my now full mug, I head back to the couch to read:

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. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 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? 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.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17, NASB)

I’ve read the familiar verses many times, in varied Bibles, but this time I took note of the different words which Paul used. Why?

“Aroma”, a noun, as defined in is “an odor arising from spices, plants, cooking, etc., especially an agreeable odor”. 

“Fragrance” is a noun and is defined as “a sweet or pleasing scent” (also

The difference between the two is very subtle. An aroma is usually a smell that tantalizes our taste buds, causing us to want to take part and taste. A fragrance is a sweet smell, one that is enjoyed, desired, and appreciated.

We are called to live lives which draw others to Christ. Our lives should create in them a desire to experience Jesus in their own lives, to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Our fragrance should remain in the room long after we are gone; a sweet smell that lingers leaving people glad to have been in our presence.

“Paul gives a picture of the Christian ministry. He sees believers as incense, giving forth the fragrance of Jesus Christ in their lives and labors … The way we live and work can mean life or death to a lost world around us.”

(from The Wiersbe Study Bible, page 1703)

We all give off an aroma. The question is whether we will be an aroma of life or an aroma of death.

As I continued reading, the smell of the potpourri filled the room and slowly brought a deep comfort to my soul. I found myself breathing in deeply in an effort to take in fully the beautiful scent.

May our lives, our words, and our presence
bring a deep comfort and assurance to those around us.








  1. Such a lovely article. I felt as if I could almost smell the homemade potpourri simmering. I've always loved this passage, but haven't visited it or read it in a while. I definitely want to be an aroma of life to those around me. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Karen, I hadn't thought about the verse lately until ... the aroma filled the house. Praying to be an aroma of life more than ever before.

  3. That's a thought-provoking distinction. We want to "smell good," but in such a way that others are drawn to partake of what we have in Christ.

  4. Fragrances are mood changes for me - soothing, lifting my mood, and thereby changing my day in a positive way. I want to be a fragrance like that! What a soothing reminder on how to gently shepherd making a difference!


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