At our grandson’s bowling party, the attendants set up bumpers in the alleys and a stand to roll the balls down toward the pins. We needed to help the children position the stand, carry their bowling ball, and help them roll it down. Whenever their ball knocked down pins, we praised them for doing a good job, and they would squeal with happy excitement. In reality, they had little to do with this accomplishment because they needed assistance from someone bigger, stronger, and more knowledgeable than they were. Still, the children participated, and we were pleased to see them so happy.
Despite the persecution Paul endured, he was rejoicing in spiritual victories. He rejoiced that God used him to lead many to Christ at Corinth (II Corinthians 1:14). He rejoiced in their obedience in exercising needed church discipline (2:3). He rejoiced in the repentance of the one disciplined (2:6-7), and in open doors to proclaim “Christ’s gospel” (2:12). In this context, Paul says: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge in every place” (2:14). Paul was picturing the Roman Triumph, when a victorious general returned to Rome in a chariot pulled by white horses, parading those he had conquered to demonstrate his glorious victory. Often the general’s son would walk behind his chariot, therein sharing in the glory of victory. During this procession, Romans priests would burn incense that wafted a distinctive odor. For the captives, this fragrance meant slavery and, often, death in the arena. To the general, it meant a victorious homecoming. While Paul “laboured more abundantly” (I Corinthians 15:10) than all the apostles, he always attributed his victories to “the grace of God which was with me.” He acknowledged that his every triumph was due to his strong, omniscient Savior who sovereignly worked through him. As a son of God, Paul followed behind the Savior who allowed Himself to be the sacrifice for our sins and then triumphed over death. Every time Paul proclaimed the gospel to a lost soul, giving them the knowledge of salvation by grace alone, it was like a beautiful fragrance, or “savour,” being offered to the Lord.
We, too, can offer thanks for the triumphs in ministry that are given to us by the hand of God. Today, let’s make the gospel known to a lost soul and allow the fragrance of our ministry to be pleasing to our Savior.
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