It would be easier to conceal the fragrance of perfume than to hide the sweet savor of a life consumed by love for Christ. Polycarp, the bishop of the Church of Smyrna, spent his final days as a fugitive fleeing for his life. His friends urged him to seek protection in a farmhouse, which he did. But before long, the aged man’s pursuers caught up with him.

Though escape was still possible, Polycarp refused, choosing rather to accept his capture as God’s will. He instructed his servants to prepare food and drink for his captors, and begged them for an hour of uninterrupted prayer. They granted his request, and for the next two hours Polycarp conversed with God.

Afterward, Polycarp’s captors brought him to a large arena where a multitude had assembled. The Roman proconsul pressed him to revile Christ so as to obtain his freedom. Polycarp’s answer has been forever etched in history: “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has never done me wrong; how, then, can I blaspheme my King and my Savior!”

Polycarp was condemned to burn at the stake for his confession of faith in Jesus Christ; but as the wood piled at his feet was ignited, a wind caused the flame to die out. An executioner had to be summoned to put Polycarp to death with a sword. The Christians who witnessed this spectacle commented at the sweet fragrance of the fumes from the burning. In life and death, this devout Christian was consumed with a passion for His Savior, the aroma of which delighted everyone who knew him.

Do you want your life to leave a sweet-smelling savor upon others? Whatever you put in will come out — so feed your heart good things. Allow the Word of God to refine your character. Make prayer a priority, and spend time in church. With the passage of time, you will find fragrant fumes emitting from your life when you are put under fire.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.