V1212Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord,. Paul is not the self-confident and the overbearing apostle, one who easily tells how things must be. Some sections of his letters might give this kind of impression. The problem however does not lie with Paul but with the reader.
The fact that the Corinthians could not ignore an inspired letter Paul wrote to them doesn’t lessen the fact that he was a normal person with feelings and emotions like you and me. He was anxiously waiting for a report from Corinth, but it still didn’t come. Each passing day created more inner pressure and anxiety. Out of a heart full of love he wrote to them stern admonitions. That was necessary. But how did they receive that letter? If only Titus had come soon with his report from Corinth it could have eased his relentless anguish.
At a time when such feelings were tormenting him Paul was in Troas. But he was not simply sitting; he was working. A large field was lying before him. The Lord had opened a door for him there and that gave him many opportunities to preach the gospel. Many evangelists should be very grateful for such a field. They would reap a great harvest and bring in their sheaves with great joy. Paul’s heart and soul were for the gospel. He could unfold himself preaching Christ. Was he in the right place? He never had to doubt about it, for God confirmed his work.
Yet he was restless. For him there was something more which went beyond the salvation of sinners and that was the glorification of Christ which is the sole aim in the life of every believer. In this regard there is still something lacking in the Corinthians and hence this letter to them. If only they had listened to his letter Christ would be glorified. Otherwise Christ would be dishonored even more.
V1313I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.. Being preoccupied with this concern Paul leaves his working field and seeks to know from Titus. He must somehow know how it stood with the Corinthians. Have they accepted his letter as the voice of God? Have they gained insight?
After taking leave of the believers in Troas he goes on to Macedonia. I suppose he said good bye to the people who were newly led to the Lord by him. He must have given them the necessary instructions for their newly begun Christian life. It is possible that they tried to persuade him to stay for a little more time with them. But that was impossible. I wonder if he was torn apart in his feelings. Should he leave or should he stay? At last the Lord has given him an open door in Troas. Can he go away? On the other hand there was also his passionate desire to see the Corinthians whom he calls, despite their short comings, “my beloved children” (1Cor 4:1414I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.). He yields to his love.
V1414But 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.. Then he lifts up his heart and head and gives thanks to God. It is impressive to see what he thanks God for. He thanks God for leading him in triumph in Christ and for manifesting through him the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. Is this not a picture that shows the right perspective in the life of a servant of God?
Is this not applicable to your life and ministry also? Your life is wholly given over to Him and He is all in all in your life. Sometimes you are at the crossroads and you do not know how to decide with regard to your education, job, house etc. But God wants to guide you in making your choices. Before you take a decision it is important that you check your motives. You might have decided in all sincerity, but you can still get the feeling that you made a wrong choice.
Paul’s words here can give great peace of mind in such cases. God always leads us in triumph in Christ through the world. Here Paul uses a figure of speech. In the ancient times the commander of a victorious army returned to his country to conduct a triumphal procession. Everyone cheered him and all the soldiers who took part in the procession exulted in sharing the honor. In the same way Paul views himself in connection with Christ, the great Victor. He showed Christ everywhere he went. He knew that Christ directed his life and with Him he was more than sufficient for every situation. Is not Christ the Victor?
V1515For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;. When your heart’s desire is to magnify Christ in your life then that will be perceptible everywhere around you. People will ‘smell’ Christ. They will be confronted by Christ. They are compelled to take a decision: either for or against Him. Your life touches them and they cannot cold shoulder the manner of your life. From your life the fragrance of Christ ascends to God.
Imagine how it should please God to see people on the earth who remind Him how His Son lived on the earth. The whole life of the Lord Jesus was a fragrance to His Father. Every encounter with Him made people choose between the options. The aroma He spread convicted people. Nobody indeed lived for the honor of God. Christ did. We can also.
The same applies today. God desires that Christ is visible in our life, in our words and in our deeds. This will either provoke people to turn against us and against Christ or inspire them to turn to God and to accept the Lord Jesus in faith. The aroma of Christ thus compels people to make a decision either to be saved or to be lost.
V1616to 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 everyone who turns away from this fragrance, so to speak turns up his nose, the aroma is a smell of death. For everyone who takes a deep breath of this fragrance into his nostrils it becomes a smell of life. How important is your Christian life which provides a choice of eternal consequences before people!
Are you confronted with your inability to live a life with such big responsibilities? I hope so, for these are not light things. Paul feels the weight of this responsibility and exclaims: “And who is adequate for these things?”
V1717For 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.. But Paul didn’t adjust his life to his own standards – or the standard others would set. He was not peddling the Word nor falsified it and he did not commercialize with its interpretations as if he could do with it what he wanted to do and could explain it to suit his own advantage. He wanted to be sincere in all his conduct. He spoke “as from God”, not as from himself. His source was God and he drew from Him.
He was fully conscious of the fact that he lived “in the sight of God” and that God was watching him in all his acts. At the same time his eyes were fixed on Christ. This is the way you may see your life. This delivers from the unfounded fear of human opinions and the fear of failure in life.
Now read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 again.
Reflection: How can you be the aroma of Christ?