But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ, and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him.
For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.—2 Corinthians 2:14–15
Whenever the Romans won a major military victory they would celebrate with a spectacular parade. The commanding general would lead the procession in a magnificent chariot, followed by his soldiers, musicians, and other officials. Then, soldiers would lead the defeated enemies through the city in bondage. As a part of the celebration, the Romans would burn fragrances on altars, filling the entire city with a pleasant aroma. Even those who could not witness the triumphal procession could hear the victory music and smell the pleasing incense. Everyone would know that their army had been victorious. The special fragrance came to symbolize victory to anyone who smelled it.
Paul used this vivid imagery to describe the effect that Christians should have in the world. According to Paul, God permeates our lives with the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, our lives should demonstrate to others that Christ is victorious. As unbelievers observe our lives, they should become aware of the victorious power of Christ. As other Christians witness the victory Christ gives us over our sin, they can rejoice in the triumph of their Lord and gain confidence that Christ will bring victory in their lives as well.
The most compelling evidence that Christ is alive and triumphant is His activity in the lives of His people. It is a privilege to be the fragrance of Christ by which others learn of God’s life-changing power over sin. Your life ought to be convincing proof that God continues to work powerfully in the lives of His people.