|But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. (2Corinthians2:14-16)|
He has been mentally re-living the hardships he had endured in his missionary activity along with the concern that his relationship with the Corinthians had broken down. The happy ending to the story was that he found Titus in Macedonia and that Titus had good news for him...
This is a fist-pump victory salute moment for Paul. It makes him think of the Roman victory procession... When the Romans defeated a city, they would lead a procession through the streets with the chief officers leading and the VIP captives would be with them in humiliation. They would burn incense and spices in honour of Caesar and the gods of war. The smell was victory for the Romans and defeat for the enemies.
Paul smells great victory in the healing of a relationship. It makes him think of Christ's great victory over sin and death. But he takes it further - he argues that our lives can become a fragrance.
As we experience God's resurrection, healing and grace in our lives, we can become a fragrance. This fragrance will be a blessing to many, but to Satan and his agents of destruction it is a fragrance of death and we can expect resistance.
But I want to come back to the fact that Paul sees a healed relationship as victory - it makes it clear how important the relationship was to him and how seriously he took his relationships. It's not the number of cities that he has preached the gospel in, not the number of people he has baptised, nor the number of leaders he has trained that gets Paul doing a victory dance. It is a healed relationship that gets him celebrating.
And, if you think about it, nothing gives off a defeat-aroma more strongly than bad relationships...