Please don’t be offended, but I am about to compare you to whale vomit.

One of the nastiest odors known to the human nose is called ambergris. It is a secretion that comes from the intestines of a sperm whale. Apparently, when the sperm whale swallows something it can’t digest (I’m thinking Pinocchio’s raft), it secrets this stuff to cover the object and help it pass. If the object is too big, the whale pukes it up. Either way the ambergris comes out of the whale.


I know it sounds like I’ve reverted back to being a 12-year-old boy who likes grossing out his sisters by taking about stuff like whale poop and vomit, but I’ve found something fascinating about ambergris. As nasty and disgusting as it smells, as it ages  it changes to an incredibly pleasant smell. How pleasant? For years, it was highly valued for use in perfume.

That’s right. Men, the perfume that once drew you to your wife may have included eau de whale puke.

A foul odor becomes pleasant. What was once disgusting is transformed into something pleasing.

A life of sin stinks. We put off the stench of death. But when we come to Christ, we are transformed. A life that was once repulsive has been transformed by the grace of God into something sweet and pleasant. People can  look at us—even knowing the harsh and foul environment we came from—and be attracted by the aroma of Christ.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2: 14-15).

We are the aroma of Christ!

During the first century, a victorious army would march through the city with a parade of the prisoners of war.  The celebration included sweet fragrances that filled the air. To the victors, the sweet smell reminded them of what they had gained, but to the defeated—who were often being marched to their execution—that sweet aroma underscored their impending death.

Christ is the victor, and we—the aroma of Christ—cause different reactions in people. Those who choose to follow Christ are drawn to the sweet fragrance.  Those who reject Christ are repelled, and that sweet smell is the smell of death to them.

I haven’t worn cologne in years, but I do want people to pick up a scent from me: the aroma of Christ. Join me, and let’s fill the air with something wonderful—the sweet smell of grace.

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