“Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”
“a sweet-smelling aroma”
Paul did not specify what gifts were sent from Philippi. He simply described them. The first description—“a sweet-smelling aroma.”
The Philippian gift impacted both Paul and God. Paul welcomed the gift as an act of God upon him. He highly regarded the gift because God’s hand was in it.
The gift also impacted God. It was a “sweet-smelling aroma” to God. “A sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice” is Old Testament language taken from the Levitical offerings (Ex 29:18; Ezek 10:41; Gen 8:21; Lev 1:9,13,17; 2:12). Their gift smelled sweet to God. It had the fragrance of perfume to God. This was an offering that pleased God.
There were two types of sacrifices in the Old Testament: 1. Sacrifice for sin. 2. Sacrifices that brought worship. The second usage (worship) is the idea in this passage. God accepts our contributions to His cause as praise and thanksgiving to His name.
“Sweet-smelling aroma” is also used of Christ’s offering up of Himself upon the altar of the cross:
“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Eph. 5:2)
We have an idiom in the English language that says, “Something does not smell right here.” That is a negative image. “Sweet-smelling aroma” has a positive connotation. This offering smelled good to Paul and to God.
Giving is an act of worship.
We worship when we give to the work of Jesus Christ. That is why it smells sweet to God. Do you please God by giving to his work as an act of worship? When you drop your offering into the offering plate, are you consciously doing it as an act of worship? When you write a check to a servant of God, are you doing it as an act of worship?