(Adapted from a message by missionary David Dickson, October, 2009)
Dead flies…Now there’s an unusual topic for a blog, you’re probably thinking. But did you know the Bible actually mentions dead flies? Ecclesiastes 10:1 says, “Dead flies give the perfumer’s ointment a bad smell; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”
In Bible times, perfume was very rate and costly. All four gospels in the New Testament relate the story of a woman anointing the feet of Jesus. She broke open a jar of expensive perfume (ointment), and poured it on His feet. We’re total that perfume cost a year’s wages!
One reason perfume was so important is that it was used in worship–to present a sweet smelling savor to God. In Exodus 30, God gives a specific recipe for a perfume He wanted the Israelites to use in worship. He said if anyone used it for any other purpose, they were to be put out of the camp. That was serious!
Our purpose as Christians is to give off the “fragrance of Christ.” So we shouldn’t be a “dead fly” that spoils that fragrance. In other words, we need to live a Christ-like life so other will see, hear, taste, feel, and smell Jesus in us. What are some things we can do that are “dead flies?” Judging other, griping, complaining, gossiping, impatience, to name a few. Anything that makes someone look at us and think, “She says she’s a Christian, yet that’s how she acts? Why should I want to be like that? She’s no different from me.”
Christians are supposed to be “peculiar people.” We’re to stand out as being different–not weird or crazy–but different than non-Christians. We’re not to let our words and deeds be dead flies that spoil the ointment. Notice the second part of that verse: “so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” One little slip of the tongue, or small questionable action can run our “fragrance” in the eyes–or noses– of those who are watching us. And we never know when we’re being watched by the world to see how we’re going to act, or react. On the other hand, we never know how a kind word or deed may affect the recipient.
Perhaps a good daily reminder (to those of us who are perfume-wears) would be to think of this lesson as we light spritz on our favorite scent each morning. As we notice its fragrance throughout the day, we can be reminded of our responsibility, and ask ourselves, “Am I a dead fly, or the sweet savor of my Savior?”