2 Corinthians 2:14 – Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
Why was Paul so easily able to praise God even in hard times? Because trials don’t make or break a man, they simply reveal the contents of his heart. Paul was not defeated. No matter where he went in the service of Christ there was victory. And so he bursts out in thanksgiving. Paul borrows a figure from the triumphal processions of Roman conquerors. Returning home after glorious victories, they would lead their captives along the streets of the capital. Incense bearers would march along both sides, and the fragrance of the incense would permeate the scene. Paul pictures the Lord marching as a conqueror from Troas to Macedonia, and leading the apostle in His train. Wherever the Lord goes, through His servants, there is victory. The fragrance of the knowledge of Christ is diffused through the apostle in every place. Paul does not feel that he has suffered a defeat in his warfare with Satan, but the Lord has won a victory and Paul shares it.
When someone cuts you off on the freeway, the way you respond is not a result of their actions. Rather, it’s an indication of what was already in your heart at that moment. This explains why Paul and Silas could sing in prison (Acts 16:25). They weren’t praising God in order that He might set them free, for they had no idea their praise would open their prison door. Paul’s praise in prison, as well as in this Epistle, was simply the overflow of the praise already in his heart. Do you have praise in your heart no matter what is happening in your life? I heard this story about a woman who was praying to the Lord and all of a sudden she began to smell this amazing fragrance around her. They determined the odor was coming from the result of her prayers. What a wonderful thought! That your prayer life could be a well pleasing aroma for others to enjoy, both spiritually and, as in this woman’s case, literally. My challenge for you this week is to give God praise in all situations, even when it would be more natural to respond in anger or fear. When you wake up in the morning, start off with praising God for another day to experience His presence. When you go to the grocery store and can’t find the items you are looking for, praise God for the things you already have. Keep your eyes on the Lord, focus your attention on Him and listen for His voice to speak to you and guide you through. God bless your week.