Several years back, I recall being on a prison yard with another volunteer, Adam, as we took a break during the inmate count time. During count, the inmates go back to their dorms until the prison staff has made sure no one has escaped the facility since the previous count was taken.
Just prior to this, the Security staff had allowed us volunteers to play volleyball with the inmates, which was a rare treat for us. It really helped to open up some lines of communication with them. But the inmates were in better physical shape than we were, so Adam and I were quite tired afterwards, and sat in the shade for awhile to catch our breath.
As we sat there, Adam told me about the dead flies. The flies in the ointment, so to speak. He had been studying the writings of Solomon in the Bible, and was focused on Ecclesiastes 10:
1 Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Ecclesiastes 10:1 (ESV)
Ouch. This one hurt. No matter how sweet the perfume of the God-led fruit in our life, ongoing self-centered sin can spoil the whole lot. These ungodly thoughts and acts can become the fly or flies that spoil the precious “ointment” of our lives.
Sin is folly and foolishness. It appeals to us at the time, and its temptation can be great – we usually know deep down that it is wrong, but fool ourselves into thinking that it will be alright this time. But sin’s consequences will come back to haunt us and can tarnish a whole multitude of good works that we have done for the kingdom of God.
We all sin. There is no getting around that. But the Lord is always faithful to forgive us and restore us to fellowship with Him. When we repent and turn away from our sin, He will strengthen us and put us right back on track to live and work for Him.
But what about the sin that we do not want to turn away from? The secret things we know are wrong, so we let few others know about them.
If we seek God in faith to help us, He will lead us to put these sinful character defects behind us. But if we cling to them and choose to cover them up instead, they will become dead flies in the perfume of our lives. Pretty soon, everything around us begins to stink. These sinful aspects continue to fester until, one day, they spoil the whole scent of the “perfume” of our lives.
Neither we nor God want things to go that far. We want to stop pursuing anything that we know is wrong, and we turn to ask Him for help to put an end to the folly. He will help us to become victorious.
If I am being truly honest with myself, are there “dead flies” to be found in my character?
Lord, help us to remove the dead flies from the perfume of our spiritual lives, and to follow You with a divine purity and a clear conscience. We rely on You for cleansing and restoration, granting us a pure heart. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.