Step Towards Transformation
Ecclesiastes 10:1-3“(NIV)… As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
In Old Testament times, ointments were highly prized and extremely valuable.
Not only was ointment valuable, but it was also used practical.
Ointment was used for medicinal purposes.
Ointments were valuable, practical, and medicinal.
FLIES IN THE OINTMENT
Ointment was usually created by skillfully mixing precious spices, scents, herbs, or medicinal extracts into an olive oil base. The fragrance from these additions to the oil naturally attracted pesky flies. These flies then become entrapped in the miry, oily substance.
Not only did the flies corrupt the ointment by their simple presence, but their decaying bodies caused the ointment to spoil and stink. Flies are quite commonly used as a symbol of decay, of corruption, of ruin. We’ve all seen flies drawn to dead animals and spoiled fruit.
Wherever there are flies, ruin is sure to follow.
FLIES IN THE OINTMENT
This situation in which dead flies putrifed the perfume was such a common occurrence that the term “Flies in the ointment.” came to be mean anything that spoiled pleasure of the whole. The issue is that the dead flies have caused the ointment itself to stink. The ointment is now rotten. The result may be just as nauseating, but the distinction is extremely important. Dead flies can be removed out, but when the ointment has been ruined simply removing the fly does not remove decay and stench.
Yet We Often Say To Ourselves – It’s Just One Fly? – Its Just A Little Sin.
Each Of These Starts Small, But The Consequences Are Great.
Small But Not Insignificant.
The programmer didn’t intend to do something wrong. Yet even with something so small, that wasn’t even a moral decision, the potential for disaster was enormous. How greater is the potential danger of intentional sin – one little sin can lead to potentially disastrous consequences. And the loss of a soul is so much more painful than the loss of a spacecraft, a piece of equipment.
Small But Not Insignificant.
A virus is the tiniest of living things. But when we have one, we do not consider it a small thing.
The Trouble With Little Sins Is That They Don’t Stay Little. Why?
Principle: It has been said,
Watch Out for Those Tadpoles
I read about an incident that took place at a college campus, located in a valley between two mountains. The water tower for that college was located up on one of the mountains. One morning while the guys were taking their showers, the water went off. They thought the girls were playing a trick on them so they quickly got dressed and ran to the girls’ dorm, only to find that the same thing had happened to them.
When they realized that it wasn’t a trick, they called the maintenance crew. When the maintenance crew arrived, they were perplexed. They could find no pipes that were burst or valves that were turned off, so they began the tedious task of following the pipe all the way back up the mountain. Piece by piece they took it apart to see if there was any blockage. Finally, they came to the last piece of pipe that went into the water tower. They opened it, and found an enormous bullfrog stuck in the pipe.
They could not understand how a bullfrog could have gotten into the water tower. There was just no way. Then they realized that it hadn’t come in as a big bullfrog but as a tiny tadpole. It had worked its way in and lived off the algae in the water until one day it was swimming too close and was sucked into the pipe, cutting off the water supply to the whole campus.
So many times, something may seem to us only– A Small Carelessness. A Little Mistake, A Minor Violation, A Short Lapse Of Judgment,A Momentary Loss Of Control.
But In Time, If Not Removed, That Little Sin Will Grow, And Before We Know It The Flow Of The Living Water Into Our Lives Has Been Choked Off. Our Relationship With God Becomes Stale And Stagnant.
A Fly In The Ointment Is A Picture, An Image Of Sin In The Life Of A Believer.
The ointment and spices represent our lives, our actions, how we live.
And, the sweet smelling aroma or fragrance is the testimony produced by our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 2:15 our life and testimony are similarly described as an aroma. But that aroma can be spoiled by the flies, by the sin in our lives..
In The New Testament Jesus speaks of a similar metaphor when he speaks of Salt losing its saltiness.
The common principle – Salt, like ointment, was used for healing. We can’t be a source of comfort and healing to a hurting world when our lives have been contaminated and our witness has been corrupted.
What Is The Fly In The Ointment For You? What Is The Sin In Your Life That Is Now Destroying Or Has The Potential To Destroy Your Witness?
It seems the world today doesn’t like to talk about sin. “Sin” is one of those words that isn’t “politically correct.” Now when discussing various questionable activities, we replace any references to “sin” with terms like “moral failure,” and “momentary lapse.”
A grandmother tells her grandchildren a bedtime story from the Bible story every night. One night she said, “Tonight we’re going to talk about sin. Do you know what the word sin means?”
Seven-year-old Keith spoke up. “It’s when you do something bad.”
Four-year-old Aaron’s eyes widened. “I know a big sin Keith did today.”
Annoyed, Keith turned to Aaron. “You take care of your sins, and I’ll take care of mine.”
Some of you may be thinking the same thing now, “You take care of your sins and I’ll take care of mine.” But we often have no intention of taking care of our sins – we are merely upset that someone else has discovered them.
Don’t Be A Fly Collector. Don’t Keep Sins As Pets.
If you read the Singapore Straits Times (August 19, 2000), You might have noticed the story about some special pets of students in southern China. They are the latest rage and are even seen as status symbols. The wholesale price of these pets are about $13 per 250mg. The most prized specimens are said to be from the United States and Australia. What are these treasured pets?
If you read the story you would know that they are cockroaches. Apparently there was a popular Hong Kong television series in which a couple raised a cockroach (named Xiao Qiang) as a pet. Since then pet shops have been cashing in on the demand as students buy the creatures. Personally, I have a hard time seeing a cockroach as a pet. As matter of fact, my natural tendency when I see one is a heavy foot and a satisfying crunch.
They have a special name for people who study insects. They are known as entomologists. Unfortunately many of us as Christians have become entomologists ourselves. Not only do we have a fly in the ointment, but we have chosen to become collectors.
But I Wonder, What It Is You Have Chosen To Collect?
If I were to peer into your collection, what would I find?
Is it anger, bitterness, jealousy, gossip, worry, gluttony, harmful habits or addictions, sexual lust, envy, materialism, little white lies, big black lies, a divisive spirit, an unforgiving heart, a critical spirit, selfish ambition, fear, real or imagined guilt, discontentment, pornography, depression, quarreling, impatience, complaining, deceit, arrogance, self-righteousness, unholy thoughts.
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal Christian readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
Illustration: Saving Some For Later?
A primary 2 student went to his first confessional in his catholic church. He confessed one or two small items and the priest, knowing he was a very mischievous boy, asked, “Do you have any more to confess?”
“Sure” the youngster replied, “but I am saving some for next time.”
I must confess, as I was preparing this sermon, I had to come to terms with the fact that I have more than one fly in my life. I guess we all do. I also must confess that there are a few I am not really keen about giving up. I have a few I want to save until later. Some of them have become pets. I wonder if you also have a few pets?
A person who lived in a vilaage farm house had lots of pets.He had cats and dogs. He also raised ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens and rabbits. His Mom also took great joy in feeding the birds and the squirrels. There was even an albino squirrel, one that was all white, that mom considered her pet, even though it was wild.
Because they were so far from the city they had their own well from which they received their water. Water was pumped out of the ground into a large storage tank and then it went through several filters and arrived in the house. They not only used it for the animals and watering plants, but they used it for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and taking showers. On one afternoon mom in the house, who had the most sensitive nose, commented that the water had a unusual smell to it. In time the smell worsened. Her husband was convinced to check the water system and filters and see if something was amiss. He checked the pipes and filters all the way back to the large storage tank. When he climbed the ladder to the top of the tank and removed a cover to look inside, the stench just about knocked him off the ladder. It seemed that one of mom’s pet squirrels had somehow climbed inside to get a drink and took an unexpected swim. Unfortunately, he failed his swimming lesson and drowned. The husband reached in to scoop the squirrel out and when he picked it up by its tail, it was so rotten that the fur and skin came right off. And this was water they had been drinking. Obviously they drained the tank, and added a good dose of bleach to purify it before they refilled it with water. They also put wire over the openings to prevent a similar occurrence. A few years later, however, the wire rusted through and another squirrel went for a final swim. It was just one squirrel, but the the results were quite disgusting.
Note:While the water filters helped remove some of the smell, in a sense they only made things worse because it took longer to identify the problem. The problem wasn’t solved until the squirrel was removed and a good cleansing took place.
The same is true in our lives. We can try to clean up, what comes out of our lives, our actions, but the actions will only become clean when the source of the contamination, when the heart is cleaned up.
There is always an emptying before the new life can replace the old. A Good Cleansing By The Blood Of Jesus [1John 1:7] Or Confession Must Take Place.
Then a little extra protection in those weak spots would be prudent, as well, in order to prevent a return of the pesky little problem. In time, our “pets” get us into trouble.
ADVICE ON FLY CONTROL
If You Already Have Flies Then:
A FLY IN AMBER. (object Lesson)
If you have seen the movie “Jurassic Park” or “The Lost World” you might remember the walking cane with the amber pommel. Amber is actually a prehistoric resin, secreted from a tree. Many of our ointments and medicinal creams are made from such resins. In the case of amber, the resin has fossilized and hardened. Anything caught in the resin is preserved. The resin becomes a miniature time capsule displaying its contents for all to see. The most prized amber are the specimens like this one that contains a fruit fly – a very long time ago, it was merely A Fly In The Ointment, a fly that became trapped in the resin of a tree. Now it is fossilized and encased in stone.
Too often our lives are like this piece of amber. Instead of removing the fly in the ointment, we allow it to harden and become fossilized.
For some of us the fly has become a prized treasure.
Some of us have become entomologists – insect collectors.
The closets, drawers, and cabinets of our lives are overflowing not with stones but flies. Flies that over time are becoming hardened and fossilized.
What’s The Fly In Your Life?
What Is The Sin That Prevents You From Being The Fragrant Aroma Of Christ The Perfumer, Your Creator, Intended?
What Is It That Has Entered Your Life And Is Slowly Putrifying Your Relationship With God?
Let’s take a moment of silent meditation? Let God speak to you…
Where is the stench coming from?
Let’s Confess And Let God Purify Us Today, So That We Might Experience His Presence, His Fragrance In Our Lives.
Don’t wait. God can restore you, so that you can be an ointment of healing to a hurting world. One small sin can be a cause of great destruction, but as Jesus showed us on the cross, God can use one life, clean and pure, yielded before Him, to undo that same destruction.
BE A NO-FLY ZON