Maybe you have been doing what I have been doing the past few days – several tasks that needed to be done, but that I really did not want to do. Activities that were necessary, but that I did not enjoy. What was I doing, you ask? I was visiting multiple stores and malls to exchange some Christmas gifts for myself and the kids that did not fit!
Well, yesterday topped it all off. After three days of standing in long lines, and listening to frustrating and confusing reasons of why I could not exchange an item or get our money back, I was at wits end – and one unfortunate sales clerk took the brunt of that frustration.
You see, I had one last stop to make, which was merely making an even exchange of two pairs of jeans to change the size, and return two pairs of ear rings that I had bought my daughter that she did not really like.
When it was finally my turn to be helped after standing in a crowded line for quite a while, I handed over my items and receipts. After about ten minutes of two store employees studying my receipt and adding things up on a calculator, I finally asked what the problem was, and explained that I simply wanted to do an even exchange for the blue jeans, and return the two pairs of ear rings.
They both happily reassured me that there was no problem, and that they would take care of it, so I continued to wait, as the line of people behind me continued to grow. After another ten minutes or more of confusion of which I could not understand, the young man finally finished the transaction, and announced to me that I owed him $26.30. At first, I thought I had misunderstood him, but he continued to stand there waiting for me to give him the money.
I suddenly felt my blood pressure rising, but I managed to ask peacefully how I could possibly owe any money when I was leaving with the same two pair of jeans I had come in with, and had returned two additional items. He of course provided a lengthy and confusing explanation of their store policies, why I owed more money for items I had already paid for, and why he was correct.
Then with little patience and three days of frustration flaming in my eyes, I informed him that if he had told me twenty five minutes ago that he could not do an even exchange for two pairs of jeans that were exactly alike but a different size, and that there would be a problem with the return since I had purchased them at the same store but a different location, then I would not have wasted my time standing in this hot, crowded store for thirty five minutes trying to return them, and that I would just take my items to the original store. Hmmmmph! (I dont think any horns sprouted out of my head, but my daughters who were standing there with me during this ordeal, might argue that point.)
The face on the sales clerk said it all, as he excused himself and handed the transaction over to the manager of the store.
Friends, I am pretty confident that I was not smelling like God in that store. I am also fairly sure that I did not leave a sweet aroma lingering either! Isnt it funny how God puts us to the test and grants us opportunities to live out what we say and believe!
You see, it is easy to smell sweet and fragrant when things are going our way, when we are well rested, and when we are having a great day. It is easy to show patience, when our patience is not being tested. That is why striving to smell like God is a challenge, because it is not our natural tendency to be sweet, when emotions are tested and frustrations are high.
Love is not a feeling, it is a response, and is a genuine concern for anyone that we come in contact with, regardless of whether or not we know them or agree with what they are saying or doing.
Smelling like God can be as simple as a smile, a hug, making a phone call to someone who needs to hear from a friend, saying thank you, or sending an encouraging note to someone. Smelling like God can be as simple as having patience with our children and being kind to people who are not treating us kindly in return.
Smelling like God can also be as simple as having compassion on a sales clerk who has probably had one hundred customers get mad at him while trying to return a pair of jeans that were the wrong size, and responding with kindness and understanding.
Smelling like God requires loving others with the same kind of love that Jesus shows towards us, and that is the kind of love that will cause others to sit up and take notice.
If we are serious about honoring God with our life, we have to make a commitment to try to be a sweet fragrance to those around, in good times and bad. We have to be ready and willing to renew that commitment every day.
There is a simple saying that we have all heard before, that says “think before you speak”. Learning the art of not blurting out whatever emotions, feelings, thoughts and words that are on the tip of our tongue takes time, and most importantly, it requires the intervention of the Holy Spirit within us.
Ephesians 5:17,18 says “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do……be filled with the Holy Spirit”. (NLT) This verse truly reiterates that phrase of thinking before we speak – and – thinking before we act.
As you consider your New Year’s resolutions for 2010, ask God to help you see any areas of your life today that need improvement, and that are leaving a smell in the lives of others that is not a sweet aroma, and certainly not honoring to Him.
Through His strength and intervention, and our true desire to live a life that glorifies Him in all that we do,and say, we can learn to smell like God and be a pleasing aroma in the hearts of others in the coming year.
Psalm 23:3 He renews my strength.He guides me along right paths,bringing honor to his name. (NLT)
Psalm 86:11-12 Teach me your ways, O Lord,that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, (NLT)