Fragrant or Pungent?

Tiny lemon blossoms snowed down on us as we sat under our tree. At the end of our day, we breathe in the fragrance (despite our allergies) of sweet honeysuckle, lemon and orange blossoms, and confederate jasmine. Our yard in the spring is Dan’s favorite place to unwind after work. Together, we delight in the beauty of our irises and flourishing snapdragons.

The sun gleamed through knotholes in the fence illuminating the irises. Mystic, the black cat with stunning green eyes, lounged next to our planter box. Dan inhaled and smiled. “Ah, so pungent.” Startled, I asked.

“What did you say?”

Thinking I didn’t hear him the first time, he loudly repeated. “It’s so nice in the yard, and the air is pungent.”

“Honey, I think you mean fragrant. Pungent is a word that describes something bitter, sharp, or strong.”

Doubting my correction, he immediately reached for his phone to ask Google if I was correct.

Tap, tap, tap…


He looked at me sheepishly. “Um—the yard is so fragrant.”

Laughing, we both knew I wanted credit for the win. Instead, we fell into a holy rhythm of breathing the sweet fragrance in the yard.

Paul speaks of fragrance in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. “In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.” (The Message Bible)

I’ve been treated as stench. During the 2016 election, I said that Christian Nationalism is idol-worship. Church members devoted to a specific political candidate received my words as pungent.

Everywhere we go as followers of Jesus, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. It is because we give off a sweet scent that we are treated more as a stench by those who refuse to hear God’s truth.

Are you willing to share God’s fragrance—even if treated as a stench? Are you willing to speak God’s truth when church members worship a political candidate, pastor, or even their own church position above God? If so, you will find yourself in some smelly situations. That’s what happened to Jesus. Certainly, the Pharisees and Sadducees experienced Jesus as a stench when He called out their greed and worship of political status.

Sometimes, we may be a fragrant aroma, and sometimes we are a pungent stench. Will you step out of the comfort zone of sweet fragrance to become a stench?

Fragrant or pungent?

Sometimes we are called to be both.

cat photo – adele groeber on Unsplash

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