Points to Ponder “The Smell of a Luzianne Coffee Can”

by Pastor Dennis Whitmore


When I was a kid, my dad kept our shoe polishing supplies in an old coffee can. Whenever our dress shoes needed a shine we would pull out the old Luzianne Coffee can and go to work on them.

I have that can of polishing supplies; the cans of black and brown polish, the buffing brush and the polishing cloth are all there. It occurred to me that, if we had the lid to it, and cleaned it up that can could be a valuable antique. Nowadays, there are restaurants that decorate their walls with old coffee cans, farm implements, and even tricycles. In one restaurant I saw a full-length canoe suspended over several tables.

When I looked at that Luzianne Coffee Can, (it is probably older than me) I thought about what it may have been like in “it’s day.” It had been stocked in some store along with other nice shining cans of Luzianne Coffee. When Mom, Dad, Grandmom, or whoever bought it and brought it home it was full of fresh ground coffee. I imagined that day, perhaps during the Eisenhower administration, when the lid was popped off and the aroma of new fresh coffee arose from within the can. Even if you do not like to drink coffee, it does smell good.

After the coffee was all gone, the can certainly retained the fragrance of the coffee that had been in it. Today, however, all traces of that aroma are gone. The can emits a strong smell of old shoe polish. If it did not have “Luzianne” on the outside, you would never have known that it once contained coffee.

All of this reminded me of what Jesus teaches us about characters. Whatever has been poured into us, whatever has been stored there for awhile, “flavors” the container. Take a whiff of my Luzianne can and you will not smell coffee. You will smell shoe polish. It has been decades since that can has had any contact with coffee. Thus it is no longer a “coffee” can. What has been in it has redefined its purpose and totally changed the fragrance it emits.

We too are like that. With TV’s playing in various rooms of our homes, stores, health clubs, and restaurants; with radios blaring obscenities and a base level of crude humor that, in the recent past, would have been banned; and with a society that has made the Bible a best seller, but rarely reads it- the stuff we are pouring into our “container” (our hearts) is changing the “flavor”, the character, of many people. It is the old computer maxim: “garbage in, garbage out.”

Whatever we fill our hearts with spills over into our lives. If we are regularly in the Word, meeting with God in prayer, and maintaining fellowship and accountability with other disciples of Jesus, our lives reflect the image and love of the One we follow.

Paul sizes it up well for us in Second Corinthians 2:14-15:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us into triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing”

The integrity of a life well lived influences other people. Therefore it is essential that we be mindful of what we take into our “container” through our eyes and our ears. We become what we think about. The aroma of a godly character is sweet and it speaks good things to the souls of the saved as well as the lost. It is just as true that people who are not concerned about what they allow into their lives, emit an aroma as well. Some live such a comprised life that they are in effect “deodorized” - while others just plain stink. Ask anyone who has given up on church, and most will probably refer to one or more person’s behavior or poor example. Like it or not, a person is either attracted to or repelled by the person of Jesus, because they judge him by the people who claim to follow Him.

We are “the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing,” Paul says. “To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? (II Corinthians 2:15-16 NIV)

A consistent, solid, godly character is the aroma that is emitted from the “container.” Guard your spirit. Be discerning in your reading and television viewing. Remember that all around you are people who need to know the Lord. The person you are when in their midst is the message they read most carefully.

Who is equal to such a task? No one, unless God enables us, and unless we seek to be constantly enabled to be the presence of Christ for others.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Dennis

Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.