A Little Folly

Gary Bird
Ecclesiastes 10:1 "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."

Have you ever considered how a tiny flaw in something valuable can drastically change its worth? Ecclesiastes 10:1 offers a compelling illustration of this principle, using the example of a contaminated ointment to draw a parallel with our spiritual lives.
This cautionary message reveals how even a minor sin can taint one's spiritual reputation. Let's dive into the significance of this scripture by first understanding the role of the ointment in the Bible.
In the Book of Exodus, the ointment was a picture of the Holy Spirit. This holy oil was used to anoint priests and kings, consecrate sacred items, and even anoint the Tabernacle itself. Prepared "after the art of the apothecary," these ointments had a sacred and high purpose.
The beauty and purity of the ointment could be ruined with just one dead fly. These flies would corrupt the ointment, rendering it unfit for its holy purpose. The contaminated ointment would then have to be discarded, and a new batch made from scratch. This laborious process was not just a waste of materials and time, but also a desecration of something meant to be sacred.
The Peril of a Wise Man’s Folly
Much like the contaminated ointment, a wise man who falls into sin can send forth a "stinking savour" that tarnishes his reputation and, by extension, the name of the Lord. A good name takes a lifetime to build and can be lost in a moment.
While sinners are expected to sin and new believers are given grace when they stumble, it’s a different story for those who have lived a life committed to the Lord. When such an individual falls into sin, it doesn’t just raise eyebrows—it creates a stink that tarnishes the Lord’s name.
This isn’t to suggest that we can live a sinless life. Far from it. We all fall short. Rather, Ecclesiastes 10:1 serves as a  reminder that no one is above reproach and that even small lapses in judgment can have far-reaching consequences. It urges us to be ever-vigilant in maintaining our spiritual integrity. After all, in the same way, that a small amount of contamination can ruin a sacred ointment, even a "little folly" can have a big impact on our spiritual lives and the perception of God in the world.

Gary Bird

Gary and his family are core members of our church. He teaches an Adult Sunday School, directs the Bus Ministry, and oversees the Earning for Learning and Rest Home Ministry programs. He and his wife are blessed with five children.

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