“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Who doesn’t love the scents of this season? From balsam fir to peppermint, I relish every whiff of the coming holiday. Unlike many other Christmas traditions, celebrating with delightful smells traces all the way back to the Messiah’s original welcome to earth.
Fragrances meant far more to the ancients than a means to indulge the senses, however. The aromatic gifts offered to the Christ child had profound significance. Last week’s post discussed the symbolism of myrrh, a fragrant resin used for embalming during Biblical times. The gift of this aromatic substance foreshadowed the sacrificial death of Jesus, who suffered and died in our place so we can live in eternity with the Father. Today we’re exploring the meaning of frankincense, another scent-sational present delivered to Jesus by the magi.
I welcomed a bottle of frankincense into my home for its rumored benefits regarding memory and focus. Research proves the essential oil carries more potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. Far beyond its applications to health, Old Testament priests used frankincense as part of holy ceremonies and offerings to the Lord. The wise men illuminated Christ’s role as our ultimate high priest before God when presenting him with this gift.
We can show wisdom by embracing this gift as we grow more into the likeness of Christ. 1 Peter emphasizes our “royal priesthood” role as followers of Jesus. Paul also shares our potential in terms of aromatic spirituality in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.
spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
Though not all of us have a calling to serve as pastors from church pulpits, we each have a role as ministers to share Christ with the world from our specific callings. Our character, attitudes, and actions can spread the fragrance of Jesus’ nature to each life intersecting with ours. Our role as priests in the family of God encourages us to serve as models of Christ’s heart in the community, workplace, and in our families.
Our video discusses the following ways we can offer frankincense blessings to the world:
- Speak on behalf of Jesus’ love for others, not according to what they deserve.
- Cover sin with grace and love. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
- Demonstrate integrity in character, attitude, and action.
- Resist temptations to lapse into language, attitudes, or behaviors which fall short of honoring Jesus’ image.
- Honor the Lord’s temple–your body.
- Honor others’ physical and spiritual being as temples of God.
- Speak truth in love. Without truth, we cannot represent Christ or his love. Without love, there cannot be real truth from Christ.
- Remain connected with the Holy Spirit at all times. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Center your mind, heart, and soul with praise. Especially when you least feel like it (See Donna Spark’s book No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous).
- Intercede with and for others often.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years..Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops (James 5:13-18).
- Spend time in prayer to center your heart, mind, and spirit in the Lord’s will. Jesus modeled this at Gethsemane and urged his disciples to pray as a protective measure against temptation, as well. “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples … ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’” (Matthew 26:39-41).
- Study the Bible and pray through scripture. We can only fulfill our roles as representatives of the Lord if we know him personally through studying his word and listening to him in prayer.
- Seek opportunities to share love. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Jesus spoke this in context with his commandment to love one another and his promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit to come. The Lord’s purpose for us includes the loving and compassionate ways Christ ministered to those in need. Jesus cared for physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs while revealing the presence of God among the lost and suffering around him.
- Obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the calling of God. Step out in faith and serve the purpose to which the Lord has called you.
This list could grow with your suggestions of ways we can fulfill our roles as image-bearers and representatives of Christ so his fragrance lingers in every place we have been present. I look forward to reading your feedback and comments.
P.S. Don’t forget to comment on a post in this series for your chance to win a Christmas gift from me. One randomly selected entrant will win their choice of a copy of Beautiful Warrior: Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You or a Beautiful Warrior soap!