Why are flowers the gift of choice when it comes to conveying love? Let’s be frank; a flower is little more than a twig of almost-dead vegetation. It has no practical use – you can’t eat it, hang it on the wall or wash your car with it. You can’t use it as a kind of currency in exchange for that new album on iTunes. It’s not even companionable, like a puppy.
You could say that the flower – and for the sake of Valentine’s Day, let’s call it a long-stemmed red rose – is the epitome of vanity.
The rose exists as a gift for its beauty and fragrance, if rather shortlived. Oh, and to fuel a $100 billion industry worldwide, according to my (questionable) online sources.
Unlatching my tongue from within my cheek, I will admit that the rose is an iconic symbol of love with admirable qualities. Love is beautiful like the rose, passionate as that deep velvety red portrays and, most importantly, love is a quality that permeates our lives like the fragrance of a dozen fresh roses propped in a vase on the dining table.
That’s what I like best about receiving flowers. As I walk around my home doing those mundane activities of folding sheets and washing dishes and cooking dinner, every so often I will catch a sweet-smelling whiff and be reminded of how much my husband loves me.
It was while considering this that I was reminded of the references to perfume in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (The Message) says this:
“Through us, (God) brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognised by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.”
Like the petals of a Valentine’s Day bouquet, the perfume of our relationship with Jesus draws people nearer to him. For those who have a soft and open heart, the aroma will be sweet and irresistible. They might even have an “I want what she’s got” moment.
Unlike the petals of a Valentine’s Day bouquet, God’s word is alive and effective.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8, ESV)
All we have to do is be the messenger – speak, act, pray as God bids.
The verses that follow on from the 2 Corinthians passage quoted above are reassuring. God does all the hard work, we just need to obey and spread that sweet aroma about.
“We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.”
Valentine’s Day is a worthy celebration of love and an occasion to lavish romance on our significant other. Perhaps as you breathe deeply of the perfume emanating from that gorgeous bunch of flowers you gave or received, or even as you stroll through the garden or spray fragrance on your wrist each day, it might trigger thoughts of the sweet smell that you can be to the people who cross your path each day. That kind of perfume needs no occasion.
This article was produced for Eternity magazine (online), published February 14, 2013.