Have you ever walked through the fragrance department in a store such as Macy’s or Saks? If you tend toward headaches caused by strong fragrances (like I do), you probably avoid that area if possible. On the other hand, if the fragrance is fresh and gentle, it can be uplifting. You realize you are in a good mood, but you may not even know the reason. Usually the fragrance is hanging in the air, and your mood may well be affected, positively or negatively, by that lingering scent.
I have recently been reminded that my attitude, my words, my reactions, my responses, can create a mood that is like a lingering fragrance. I have been asking myself what kind of fragrance lingers behind me—is it one that people want to avoid, because it gives them a headache, or is it a scent that lifts the spirit?
Do I want to be known as gentle, or harsh?
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
There are characteristics that I observe in others. I make mental notes: When I see someone who has grace, mercy, compassion, humility, gentleness, genuine caring for others—I think, “I want to be like that person.” When I see someone who is harsh, critical, judgmental, self-centered, proud—I think, “Please let me not be like that.”
By nature, I fear I am the harsh and critical person. I do not want to be like that. I’m such a work-in-progress. Being aware of the goal is hopefully a step toward improving. But I know that only God can give me the characteristics I desire. So, I pray:
Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (NIV)
Ephesians 4:29-32, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)
I like to think that I can make a difference in someone’s life. That’s probably a bit idealistic. But, at least, can I make a difference in someone’s day?-- by leaving a lingering fragrance that is sweet and uplifting.