For this section I was going to discuss the fragrant gifts and valuable offerings mentioned in the bible. Everyone is familiar with the gifts of the magi described in Matthew 2:11; which included myrrh and incense (often interpreted as frankincense). Then there are the tributes that the Queen of Sheba paid to King Solomon and the gifts Israel told his sons to take to Egypt to appease the official (who was, unbeknownst to them, their brother Joseph). These included myrrh, balm, spices, honey, almonds and pistachio nuts.
However, I have been battling with this particular topic. I don’t believe it is because there is a lack of material, because there really is much more than I have mentioned and each instance can be examined in great detail going into why these fragrances were chosen and deemed appropriate for gifts. It is also not because there is no link between the bible and aromatherapy in this instance because many of these aromatic gifts are still very much in use in aromatherapy today (insert a witty punt for my products which can be bought for gifts, hint, hint).
I believe the reason I have been battling is because of a lack of focus. Or, more importantly, an inaccurate focus. The most fragrant gift we have ever received is the gift of eternal life. God looked at Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and He found it to be a pleasing aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV):
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
In the same way, the most fragrant gift we can offer to God, our Saviour and Creator, is sincere prayers and praises. Revelations and a number of apocryphal books depict angels offering the prayers of the saints to God as bowls of incense:
…Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
– Revelations 5:8 (NIV).
Our relationship with God does not exist in isolation. The same is true for our relationship with God. This is not a two-way street; it is a trinity of aromatic gifts. The fragrant gift of eternal life, the sweet incense of our prayers to God, and the aroma of Christ – as second Corinthians describes:
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 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?
– 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
The third fragrance is our lives as Christians, bringing aroma to those whose lives we touch. For those who are searching for Christ and are newly saved, we should be a pleasant aroma; while to those who are unsaved and not searching for salvation, we are actually quite sickening and foul to be around. If it is not that way, we need to ask ourselves if we really are giving off the right scent. This is a point I battle with the most, as I’m sure many do. Who wants to be repellent to people? And yet, that is exactly what we should be. As Paul says, “Who is equal to such a task?” Certainly not me. I am a poor example to follow and have made too many life choices that would sour in God’s nostrils. In fact, I have absolutely no business writing this at all. I am not a biblical scholar. I am not as well versed in the bible as I should be. And I certainly have no wisdom to impart (except that which comes from experience of doing what I should not have done). But this has given me something to think about, something to strive for: to live a life of spiritual aromatherapy; pleasing to God and soothing to my Christian family.