My youngest son was in trouble. Again. I had walked in on the finishing touches of what was one humdinger of a scolding from his mother. Apparently the little guy had been caught "pretending" to take a bath and, judging by the level of odor, this ruse had been going on for quite some time.
I sat the little guy down in my home office in an attempt to have a 'father-son' moment in which I could impart the wisdom of the ages into an eager young mind. Instead, I got a series of questions:
"Dad, are skunks embarrassed by their smell?" I replied, "No, son. I don't think so."
"Is Hansen [our dog] embarrassed when he smells like dog poop?" "No, I don't think so"
"Then Dad, why are humans embarrassed for how they smell?"
I'll be honest. As one who has two master's degrees and the beginnings of a Ph.D program I immediately felt unable to answer the question. The little guy's logic was impeccable, albeit from the perspective of an elementary-age boy.
Of course, the real answer is that it all depends on who does the smelling. Perhaps to another school age boy smelling like a gym-locker sock has a certain appeal, but one's mother generally has a less than favorable impression of that same odor.
Throughout the book of Leviticus, the Lord refers to how things "smell" over 25x. In Leviticus 1:9, after giving instructions for the Burnt Offering, the Lord says, "it is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord." There was an odor coming Israel which was offensive to God. It was the 'odor' of sin. Like little boys that don't like to bath, the "smell" of our own sin doesn't seem to bother us too much, but it bothers God a lot. But there was another odor which was pleasing to God, obedience!
Through Christ, our lives can be something that God finds pleasing and fragrant. We are to be, as Paul calls us in 2 Cor 2:14, "the aroma of Christ" to the world around us. What do you 'smell' like?