But thanks be to God, who always leads us in 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 to those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God
2 Corinthians 2.14-17
When the gospel is preached there are two responses. Some who hear embrace the truth that they hear, and find life. Others reject what they hear and effectively choose death.
This is challenging for the proclaimer of the good news but the final results, if the proclamation has been faithful and true, are in God’s hands. We can, indeed we must, tell the gospel but we cannot make people respond, so we must not be downcast when we do not see the results which we expected or even prayed for. If it were otherwise we would soon give up gospelling for seeing little or no fruit would easily cause us to say ‘why bother?’
Matthew Henry writes thus on these verses, heading his commentary
“The comfort that the apostle found, even when the gospel was not successful to the salvation of some who heard.
1. The success is different; for some are saved by it, while others perish under it. (1) To some it is the smell of death, as people dislike a bad smell, and therefore are blinded and hardened by it. They reject the gospel, to their ruin, even to spiritual death. (2) To others the gospel is the fragrance of life. To humble and gracious souls the preaching of the word is most delightful and profitable. As it quickened them at first when they were dead in trespasses and sins, so it will end in eternal life.
2. The awful impression this matter made upon the apostle, v.16. Who is worthy to be employed in such weighty work? Who is able to perform such a difficult work? The work is great and our strength is small; all our sufficiency is of God.
3. The comfort the apostle had. (1) Because faithful minsters shall be accepted of God, whatever their success be (v.15), in those who are saved and in those also who perish. Ministers shall be recompensed, not according to their success, but according to their fidelity. (2) Because his conscience witnessed to his faithfulness, v.17. Though many did corrupt the word of God, yet the apostle’s conscience witnessed to his fidelity. His aim was to approve himself to God; he therefore spoke and acted always in the sight of God, and therefore in sincerity.”
So let us be bold as we offer life to a dying world, secure in the knowledge that in so doing we are pleasing our heavenly Father and ensuring that our fellow men cannot say ‘no-one told me’.
Doing this faithfully we will indeed find that our sufficiency is of God.