Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: The Scent of Forgiveness
By Bev Davis
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It was a soft, gentle scent at first. Something bittersweet permeating the air.
Then, it grew stronger. Soon, even the party guests at the far end of the room recognized the rich, earthy aroma of an expensive ointment.
A woman who had paid dearly for it had broken open an alabaster box and had generously poured the contents on the feet of a Man who seemed to cause controversy everywhere He went.
She wiped His feet with her long, dark hair.
Her tender devotion was quickly thwarted by the gruff voices of the Man’s critics.
“Why such waste?” Who among men was worthy of such honor — and such lavish extremes?
This story from the Gospel of Luke chapter 7 grips my heart.
The Lord Jesus Christ, for whom the woman had shown her devotion unceasingly since her arrival, issued a profound statement — “This woman loves me so much because she has been forgiven so much.”
The fragrance that moved the Lord that day was the essence of a woman’s love that poured from a heart redeemed by His love.
I am a woman who has been forgiven much. I am a woman redeemed by His love.
Yet, I often hold back when it comes to lavishing extreme devotion on Him.
I hesitate to speak of Him in a crowd of mockers, because I fear their reprisal. I want to fit in, you know.
In my private devotional times, I tell Him I love Him, but I hold back my affections.
He is worth so much more.
Perhaps it is because I live in a society and in an era in which forgiveness doesn’t get much press.
As a journalist, I write the stories of crime, marital infidelity, substance abuse and a myriad other selfish passions that lead to the need for forgiveness.
In my 21-year career, however, there have been precious few times I’ve been called upon to write a story about forgiveness.
I’m told the Hebrew origins of the word “forgiveness” have to do with the idea of “sending away” the need to condemn or pass judgment or extract justice. A church billboard spelled out the concept better for me than any other definition has done — “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”
And that is what the Lord Jesus Christ does for me every day.
He stands with arms outstretched, bidding me come to Him and confess my anger, my grievances, my bitterness, my pride, my grudges.
The moment I release my rebellion and my right to condemn others, the fragrance of His forgiveness wafts over me like the fresh sweetness of a field of dew-laden wildflowers on a bright spring morning.
There is no healing so sweet as the fragrance of mercy, no liberation so complete as the freedom of forgiveness.
The fragrance that moved the Lord Jesus Christ most that day recorded in Luke’s Gospel was not the perfume from a jar, but the essence of the healing and restoration His gift of mercy had brought to a needy soul.
I have known forgiveness from both levels — as the one forgiven and as the one who has needed to extend forgiveness.
In both instances, the fragrance of mercy lifted me out of despair and brought to me the sweet, fresh scent of redemption.
The more I emptied myself of the bitter aroma of criticism and judgmental attitudes, the sweeter the fragrance of His mercy became.
The more I cast myself upon the mercy of my Savior, the closer He drew me to His own forgiving heart.
And, in those quiet moments, I realized I am the fragrance He desires. It is my love, my devotion, my gratitude that fills His nostrils with pleasing aromas.
However, there is one major difference between the offering of my perfume to Him and that of the woman in Luke 7.
It is He who has to break open the alabaster box to release its precious contents.
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