(KJV) Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.
I want to share with you an object lesson that I heard a preacher give once when I was a teenager. His name was Brother Dekker; I don’t remember his first name. For over a decade, this lesson has stuck with me. My life was so impacted and my attitude altered in such a great way that I’ve tried to share this with many others.
Ecclesiastes 10:1 says, “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor.”
Most people will agree with me that flies are gross. I don’t know what’s worse: finding a dead fly in my kitchen or having one buzz past my nose when I’m trying to sleep. Flies are small; sometimes we don’t even know they’re there until they start to fly. And when they die, just like any other dead thing, they start to smell. As the verse says, if they die in an ointment that is supposed to smell good, their decay will eventually cause the ointment to stink. It only takes one dead fly to contaminate the whole jar of ointment.
The verse continues, “So doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.” How often do we forget the many good things a person does when they fall short once? One word or action can contaminate a life previously dedicated to good. What’s more, one small thought can start a chain reaction that ruins a life altogether. And so, as the preacher asked that camp full of teens, I ask you, do you have any small flies in your life? I don’t mean big stuff. I mean the little things, perhaps that no one knows about but you. Are there any flies that might be making your life smell bad in front of others? In front of God?
For me, it was pride. I was the good kid. I looked right, acted right, obeyed. I let pride build a wall between me and God. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” “A proud look” is the first of seven things God hates, as mentioned in Provers 6:16-19.
Pride is a hard thing to give to God. It’s so easy to keep returning to pride, maybe because it comes naturally to our flesh. We desire to put ourselves before others, leading us to think highly of ourselves. Before we know it, we’ve placed ourselves on a pedestal, and no one else is as good as we are, or as smart, kind, talented, etc. God wants us to humble ourselves so that He can get the glory in our lives.
One of the ways that shepherds like David kept flies away from their flocks was to regularly apply oil to the sheeps’ heads. So in our lives, we must regularly apply the oil of the Holy Spirit. When we allow the Him to cleanse our minds, He will remove those stinking dead flies. He will restore us to a sweet-smelling ointment for God. And He will cleanse us of our pride.
I want to challenge you to examine your life. If you find any “dead flies” contaminating your ointment, ask God to help you get rid of them. He wants to restore you. James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” The more flies you ask Him to remove, the closer your relationship will be to Him.