The Fragrance of Forgiveness


Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him. Genesis 45:9-15 ESV

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV


Many flowers have a beautiful smell. Roses, lilacs, and lilies all smell wonderful. Their smell is part of the chemistry of the flower. People who make perfumes are able to gather the fragrance of a flower by collecting what is called the essential oil. They can then use this oil to make perfumes. One way to get the essential oil out of a flower is to crush or grind the flower. Even as the flower is destroyed, it gives off a lovely smell that can be gathered and made into perfume.

There’s an old saying that forgiveness is like the fragrance of a flower. Like a flower, forgiveness gives up its sweetest smell to the person who crushes it. When Joseph forgave his brothers, he was a little like a flower. The same brothers that hurt and crushed him now receive his help and care. He promises to take care of them and protect them for the rest of the famine, and tells them to hurry and bring their families to Egypt so he could give them everything they needed.

Joseph could not have given that kind of love and forgiveness without knowing the love of God for himself. His troubles in life strengthened his faith and trust in God. He knew God’s love and care, and knowing God was so wonderful that it gave him the love and strength he needed to forgive and help his brothers. He didn’t have to find that strength in himself. It was a gift from God.

We know the wonderful love of God in Jesus. When we look at what Jesus did for us on the cross, we see him being crushed and hurt for our sins. Jesus was truly like the most lovely, fragrant flower there ever was. Even as he was bleeding and dying, he was winning God’s complete love and forgiveness for us. It’s only in and through the love of Jesus that we can forgive people who hurt us. Our love and strength comes from God, and it’s the best gift we’ll ever have!


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and strength and forgiveness. Please help us forgive others who hurt us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.