TLP 111: Fragrant Parenting
You’ve likely never thought of your parenting as being fragrant, but it should be! Join AMBrewster as he teaches Christian parents what it means to be fragrant.
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You may use many words to describe your parenting, but I bet you’ve never thought of your parenting as being “fragrant.”
Well, today, hopefully we’ll see how our parenting can become fragrant and what that means.
But before I get to that . . .
As we near the end of the year, some of you may be considering giving year-end gifts to various ministries. If you’d be interested in supporting TLP, I’d encourage you to check out our Patreon page or click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP” link in the description.
We’d be honored to steward your resources to extend the reach of God’s Truth for families.
Okay, so what’s with the fragrant gimmick.
To be honest, it’s not a gimmick.
Many times in Scripture, God refers to things as smelling good. Numbers 15:14 describes sacrifices as having a sweet aroma. Revelation 5:8 says our prayers are full of odors, and even Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is called a fragrant offering in Ephesians 5:2.
But the passage I want to focus in on today is found in II Corinthians 2:14-17.
Today’s format will be very simple. I’ll read a portion of the Scripture, comment on it, and continue in the same fashion.
Let’s start in verse fourteen. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession,”
I think it’s so important that we not rush through Paul’s introductory thoughts. First, we see this delightful reflection that coincides so beautifully with our celebration of Thanksgiving: “Thanks be to God”!
Please don’t ever forget that anything good in your family comes from God, and He’s the one who deserves the thanks.
But for what is Paul thankful? He’s thankful for our triumphant procession. In Colossians 2:15 Paul speaks of Christ having “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” That phrase “in him” shows up here in I Corinthians. Here Paul is thanking God for our victory that only comes in Christ. Jesus Himself is the one at the head of the column leading us in victory as a triumphant general leads his soldiers home from the field of glory.
Which side of that are you on in your parenting? Do you feel like the victor returning with the spoils of war, or do you feel like the private hunkered down in the fox hole?
Isn’t it great how Paul talks as if our triumphal procession is already under way? How does he do that? Well, it has to do with the fact that Paul genuinely believed that the victory is already ours because of Christ. Our victory is not dependent on how our children turn out. Our victory was won on the cross, and we participate in His victory when we submit ourselves to His sovereignty. And you can learn more about that in episode 87, “What Is Successful Parenting?”
But — moving on — we see that Paul is also thankful that God works through us to spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
We’ve seen this a lot lately. God’s been reminding us at every turn that our greatest responsibility to our kids is to bathe them in the Truth of God’s Word.
The world thinks that God’s Word is restrictive and unloving, but that could be nowhere further from the truth. Peter tells us that the Gospel is like a lamp shining in a dark place. In Romans we learn that the Gospel is God’s power for salvation. The Gospel is a deliciously fragrant aroma that should delight everyone who’s touched by it.
Paul explains why the Gospel is so beautiful in verse 15, it reads: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
Whether the child in our home is born again or not, whether our spouse is a Christian or not, we should be a fragrant reminder of the Gospel.
I love cinnamon candles. When the holidays arrive, I’d burn cinnamon candles all day every day if they weren’t the equivalent of injecting the air with poison.
I know, I just took that beautiful picture and burned it to ash. I have tried diffusing cinnamon essential oils . . . but it just doesn’t accomplish that full-bodied, warm aroma that a candle puts off.
So, I only burn them every now and then.
Anyway, you often can’t walk into my home without being drawn in by the enticing aroma. In addition, I frequently wear an oil diffuser around my neck, so often you can smell me coming before you see me.
Is that how it is for your family members? Are you a continual reminder of the beauty of the Gospel? Through your words and your actions, are you keeping the triumphant procession of God in Christ alive in your home?
That’s what our salvation should accomplish in us.
Now, some people won’t like the smell. Look what Paul says in verse 15, he says, “to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”
I once had a coworker who very kindly asked me to stop burning my cinnamon candle in my office because he could smell it in his office, and he was allergic to cinnamon.
Honestly, I felt very bad for him. How could he be allergic to one of the greatest smells on the planet?!
Well, in a far more pitiable way, there will be those who hate and reject the fragrance of the Gospel. But please keep in mind that two things remain true even when our children and spouses reject God:
Too often terrorists scare or manipulate us into thinking that our good news is bad news. They try to shame us into not speaking Truth in love. We eventually stop putting off the fragrance of God’s eternal Truth because we’re more concerned about what people will think of us than we are what God’s commanded. And — in the same way I may become nose blind to the cinnamon smell that’s around my neck — we may lose sight of the amazingness of God.
Don’t let your family steal your awe!
Most of us lose our fragrance, not because our families are beating us down for it, but because we slowly become callous to it ourselves.
However, if you have terrorists in your home, please listen (or re-listen) to episode 37: “How to Parent a Terrorist.” Please don’t allow mere men (family or not) to distract us from the glorious procession of God.
Okay, so Paul’s praising God for leading us to victory in Christ and spreading the beautiful fragrance of Truth through us. But then Paul asks at the end of verse 15: “Who is sufficient for these things?”
The Greek word translated “sufficient” has the idea of being competent. In just a few verses, Paul is going to answer the question for us. He’ll say, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.”
The quasi-rhetorical question, “Who is sufficient for these things?” should remind us that we’re not. It ties in with the first verse we looked at: we need to thank God for this work!
Are you living a life of praise and thanksgiving to God for your family?
I know your kids can be a pain, I know your husband can be calloused, I know your wife can be tiresome, but if you’re not overwhelmed by the graciousness of God in allowing you to even have a family . . . you’re part of the problem.
Not only do we not deserve the blessing that is our family, but we are complete incapable of doing our job well. None of us are sufficient to be the spouse or parent we need to be. It’s God who is our sufficiency; He’s the one who makes us sufficient to be a pleasing aroma of Truth and love.
Perhaps, one reason you’re not a more fragrant parent is that you’ve lost sight of your sufficiency.
Paul ends this passage with this, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
It’s so easy for us parents to merely peddle God’s Word. We treat the Bible like a checklist or a battering ram or genie. No, my dear parent listing to me today, we have been commissioned by God, equipped by God, made sufficient by God, made triumphant by God, and done so through Christ so that if we are truly being a fragrant parent, we’re not speaking for ourselves of ourselves by ourselves . . . no, we’re in the sight of God speaking Christ.
So, let’s define this. What is a Fragrant Parent? Obviously, an Ambassador Parent is going to be a Fragrant Parent.
The Ambassador Parent isn’t parenting to himself or herself. He’s parenting as a steward of God. And she’s a successful parent because God’s Word is always successful. His way is always triumphant . . . even when our children refuse to submit to God.
Also, the Fragrant Parent is a new way of understanding Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 4. By embodying God’s Truth in God’s love, we take the fragrance of the Gospel everywhere we go.
A Fragrant Parent is going to apply God’s Truth to the way her children play, the way his kids do homework, the way his kids do chores, the way her children talk to each other, the way their family worships God both corporately and daily.
The Fragrant Parent won’t be fragrant on the way to church, but lose their aroma the rest of the week.
The Fragrant Parent isn’t a peddler of the Word. We’re not using it for personal gain. We’re using the Word to glorify God and better our families.
And the Fragrant Parent is doing all of this in the sufficiency of God. They’re equipping themselves with Truth, they’re filling their minds with the Word, they’re premeditatedly planning how they’re going to use the Bible in their parenting when they sitting and rising up and lying down and walking by the way.
Are you a Fragrant Parent? You can be. I hope today’s episode notes will help you become a more fragrant parent. You can find those notes linked in the description. Just click on it and you’ll be taken to our blog, Taking Back the Family at TruthLoveParent.com.
I hope you didn’t miss our last episode with Dr. Jim Newheiser. It was so good. Parenting is far more than a formula, and if you need more encouragement today, I would highly recommend you listen to that discussion.
Our next episode is going to ask the question, “What to Do with Santa Claus?”
I hope your time with us has shown you that we’re passionate about the sufficiency of Scripture. We believe we can find all the information we need for life and godliness. That includes this question.
No doubt your family has already made a decision about how you’re going to interact with Santa, but is it a biblically informed decision? I really hope it is, and I encourage all of your to check out our next episode.
And if you think that episode won’t be too applicable to your family because you have older children, I encourage you to tune in to episode 113, called “Are Messy Kids Okay?”
Teens have the amazing ability to be bigger slobs than our infants. Is okay for kids and teens to be messy? Is that just the phase they’re in? Is God glorified by the mentality “Clean enough to be healthy; dirty enough to happy”?
Join us next time as we bring God’s Word to bear on our family life and parenting.
And don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media outlet. We try our best to give you encouraging and challenging content — not too much or too little.
And if you’re in the middle of the holiday season seemingly incapable of experiencing joy because of the state of your house, please write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. We’d love to pray for you and with you and off any assistance we can.
Today I want to sign off by repeating Paul’s words from today’s text: “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are . . . men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak Christ.”
Now go be a Fragrant Parent!
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