Flies and Folly

By Joe Monds

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I’m not a native Okie, but I’ve come to appreciate aphorisms of Will Rogers. He says,
“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.”

This idea is presented by our friend Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 10, Verse 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.” Ointment has a number of uses, all of which were meant to be positive. Medication, perfuming house guests, even as an anointing holy oil to demonstrate a dedication to the service of God. The ointment would emit a fragrance so pleasant that it not only attracted those who would use it positively but also flies that would wind up tarnishing its usefulness. The central idea of the verse is that a little bit of bad can ruin a whole lot of good. The apothecary would have to keep a watchful eye on his vats of ointment to protect it so as to make sure that it wasn’t ruined before it could be used for good. This illustration teaches us that God intends to use our reputations for good, but just a little bit of folly can ruin a reputation. We have almost become desensitized to political, corporate and social scandals where people who were highly esteemed were exposed for being not who they “seemed” to be. May that not be said of us as we strive to follow God’s plan of living wise lives and leaving a legacy that glorifies Him. Seemingly insignificant bad choices can ruin a good reputation.

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