The perfume of character
I'M accustomed each morning to putting on my favorite perfume. One day as I was sitting in my office there was a knock on my door. When I answered, one of the tenants in the same building said, ``I just stopped by to say hello. I always know when you are here because your fragrance lingers in the hall!'' Over the years, as I have studied both the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, I've thought frequently about that remark, though in a much deeper way. In the Bible we read, ``Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.''1 The J. B. Phillips translation reads, ``Thanks be to God who leads us, wherever we are, on Christ's triumphant way and makes our knowledge of him spread throughout the world like a lovely perfume!''
This statement points to a grand and noble purpose for our lives. Does our knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, spread through our world like a lovely perfume? Have we lived our lives in a way that has helped others to know God and experience His love and goodness in their lives?
We gain a knowledge of God through the life, teachings, and healings of Christ Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains God's tender, constant care of His creation and helps mankind understand the qualities of thought that bring us closer to God. When we love instead of hate, when we replace anger with forgiveness, when we trust God's provision for all our needs, we find peace, and see His goodness expressed in tangible ways. As our individual lives become enriched by a knowledge of God, we can be of greater help to others.
Just how can we spread our knowledge of God throughout the world? Sometimes a word of comfort or encouragement drawn from our conviction of God's presence and power to heal will bless an individual or a situation. Sometimes we help simply by the way we live our lives. Just as a distinctive perfume leaves an impression on others, so do our lives. Our lives tell others much about what we believe and what we love. For example, do we believe the world and current events are almost beyond help? Do we believe that most people are dishonest and care only for their own well-being? Do we love only those who share our own interests? In the long run, such attitudes foster despair, though we may feel they represent an honest, realistic viewpoint.
If, on the other hand, we believe in God, we also understand the power of His presence, governing the universe and man. Through faith in His omnipotence, we have faith that the spiritual reality of His creation, the harmony that characterizes His nature and the nature of what He has made, can be steadily brought to light. We see that mankind can find intelligent solutions to global problems. The first chapter of the Bible assures us that man is created as the image of God. So man expresses the intelligence and wisdom originating in God. And because this is the truth of everyone's being, peaceful solutions can be found between nations.
But we need to realize that fact in prayer, understand that man is not really a sinful or victimized mortal in conflict with other mortals. True identity expresses the all-loving God. This fact, perceived, can lead to mutual trust and kindness between husband and wife, employer and employee, or between heads of state. We're not being naive when we adopt this standpoint, but deeply realistic. We're not ignoring evil but realizing its illegitimacy in view of God's government and nature. To endeavor to discern in everyone something of the perfect man that God created and blessed prevents our contacts from narrowing down to only those people who share our views. Our relations with others become expansive and progressive rather than narrow and divisive.
As we live our lives from this standpoint, we become a message of hope to others. It is possible that what we know of God can spread throughout the world like a lovely perfume. Mrs. Eddy succinctly says, ``As in the floral kingdom odors emit characteristics of tree and flower, a perfume or a poison, so the human character comes forth a blessing or a bane upon individuals and society.''2 How rewarding to so live life that our character blesses mankind!
1II Corinthians 2:14. 2Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 8. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16