I have a very sensitive nose so there are particular perfumes and colognes that cause me to sneeze and some even kick in my asthma. As you personally select a perfume or cologne, you most likely spray it in the air or try a little dab on your wrist to smell. You want to select something that smells good, that is pleasant to your nose. The problem is that everyone has a different sense of smell and everyone likes different smells. I love the smell of vanilla candles. I love the smell of Dove soap. But when I enter some department stores and I’m bombarded by some intense smells, it is anything but a sweet perfume. There are times when all I can do is gag and duck outside quickly holding my nose.
Paul mentioned that as we are used to spread the message of Christ we could be compared to a “sweet perfume.” But he continued to explain the problem. Yes, God loves the “Christ-like fragrance” but there are others who don’t like our sweet perfume. Paul said, “We are a dreadful smell.” We smell so badly to some people because we are seen as the bearer of judgment upon them. Ever notice if someone shares the Word of God and it’s received by non-believers badly—they say the people are being “judgmental.” Yet a person was simply reciting what God has said. The person was not judging the person. God’s Word is convicting. Being convicted of sin, being found guilty can cause great frustration and anger, hence the reason for the “dreadful smell.”
Continue to be a sweet perfume, sharing Christ and pressing forward. Understand that to some you will be a sweet perfume, but to others you will stink. They will not want to be around your “dreadful smell.” Still press forward. Still spread the scent. Remember, we are to please God not man.
“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” – 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 [NLT]