Honeysuckle – the fragrance lingers in the air and fills the yard with sweetness! We have a honeysuckle bush and several honeysuckle vines that climb some of the trees in the woods in our backyard.
The scientific name for honeysuckles is caprifoliaceae. The bush is large, upright and grows to 15 to 20 feet in height.
The flowers change from white to yellow and it has red berries in the fall. In late autumn, leaves typically remain green and attached well after the leaves of our native trees and shrubs have fallen.
While seeing the blooms in the tree is beautiful, the thing that I love most about the honeysuckle is the fragrance. Scientific reports state that the honeysuckle bush flowers in May through June and that the flowers are “fragrant, in clusters from the leaf axils, tubular, 1 inch long, slender, distinctly 2-lipped, with the upper lip having 4 lobes, the lower lip with 1 lobe.”
That’s all well and good, but it does not, in my humble opinion, give enough print to the luscious fragrance of the honeysuckle bush. It fills the air on a summer evening. You can sense the fragrance even when you can’t see the flowers, you just know it is there … you can tell because you are familiar with the scent.
God has always been interested in fragrances both in His worship and in the lives of His people.
In the book of Exodus, we read this regarding the tabernacle in the wilderness:
“”You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood.” … “And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it,””
Exodus 30:1, 7 ESV
The Lord God also gave numerous instructions as to how to make the incense, when to burn it, etc. In short, God’s dwelling was to be a place of fragrant beauty. It is no surprise, then, that God’s creation is a place of myriad fragrances, and honeysuckle happens to be one that is pervasive in our yard during the summer!
The Psalmist says:
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;”
Psalm 45:6-8 ESV
Paul tells the Ephesian Church that they were to walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us:
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.“
Ephesians 5:2 ESV
Christ was described as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, on our behalf, in payment for our sins so we could avoid the wrath of God because of our sinfulness.
In response to Christ’s incredible gift of love for us, we are to give to others, to enable others to see the Lord Jesus Christ in us, and to assist our brothers and sisters in the Lord as they walk their journey of faith. Our works for others are not payment for our salvation, rather they are gifts of love in thanksgiving for what God has done for us, in other words, they are a sweet, fragrant offering to our God.
Paul said it this way:
“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Philippians 4:18 ESV
You see, we are not to hoard our blessings, but we are to give to others just as the Lord gave to us. When we do, our actions become a fragrant offering to God. Consider the words in Revelation regarding the prayers of those who have gone before us:
“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.”
Revelation 8:3-4 ESV
Matthew Henry speaks of these verses and admonishes us as follows:
It is very probable that this other angel is the Lord Jesus, the high priest of the church, who is here described in his sacerdotal [priestly] office, having a golden censer and much incense, a fulness of merit in his own glorious person, and this incense he was to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints. … The prayers of the saints come up before God in a cloud of incense; no prayer, thus recommended, was ever denied audience or acceptance.
So, as Christians, we are to walk in love as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. We are to give to others both in terms of material help as well as with prayers, and these offerings will rise as a fragrant sacrifice to God.
We should give off the pleasing fragrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that fragrance should permeate the air around us so that, even if people don’t hear us say anything, they will know that we are Christians.
Enjoy the wonderful fragrance of honeysuckle, and let it remind you of the fragrance that we should give to those around us as we share the pleasing fragrance of love that our Lord Jesus Christ has given to us.
Father, I pray that I would live my life as a fragrant offering that is pleasing to you. I pray that my prayers would be presented to you through the wonderful work of Jesus as my intercessor and mediator, and that they, too, would be a fragrant offering that is pleasing to you.