We live in a sanitized world. We have clean water to bathe in… deodorants for our bodies… laundry soap for our clothes… dishwashers for our dishes…Mr. Clean for our countertops…flushing toilets….air fresheners… car fresheners… pet fresheners… carpet fresheners… and that’s a good thing!
But not long ago the world smelled like a very different place…
I was struck with a thought on one of our Christmas trips to Williamsburg…before electricity, everyone must have smelled like smoke. Fires were the primary way of keeping warm… of cooking… of heating water… even the street lights were big baskets of burning wood. And if you have been camping for a weekend, you know how the smell of smoke seems to sticks to everything!
In our culture and day we don’t often come across horribly bad smells… like rotting rats or rotting teeth or sewage flung out in the streets. If this is making you a little squeamish or makes you say “eeeeeuuuuu”! then you are making my point! We live in a very sanitized world!
Not so in the days of the Bible. Bad smells were a part of life. And good smells a wonderful relief!
The ancient Hebrews used this concrete image of “smells”… both good and bad.. to get across an abstract concept, something they often did as their language was very poetic and vivid.
The Hebrew word ba’ash (pronounced bah-AHSH) means “to be a stench or to emit a stinking odor”
This word was used to describe the odor of the Nile when all the fish died as a result of God turning it into blood.
The word ba’ash and it’s visceral imagery was also used to describe a person that was despised because of something horrible he or she has done.
As dead flies give perfume a stench, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Ecclesiastes 10:1
In other words, our odious deeds will outweigh honorable ones. So we must be on our guard to not let the stench of bad choices stick to us.
I think this is a verse we should all memorize! Bad behavior is not soon forgotten… it lingers like a stench! And that stench can often be transferred to those we are associated with.
Now this is why it is important to Christians. To a non-believing world, Christ smells like us! Our actions can have a direct effect on how others see Christ. We are His ambassadors to a lost and hurting world.
This gives me a very concrete way of looking at my behavior and the way others look at it too.
Maybe if behavior actually did “smell” we would be much more aware of it! On the other hand, thank God for his grace in that area!
So, here is my question for you to think about today… as I will too..
HOW DOES YOUR BEHAVIOR SMELL?