“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!
Don’t say that, sir. Everyone will want one.”
All joking aside, flies in your soup isn’t some that you want to think about when going to your favorite restaurant. It’s just YUCK! And to make it even ‘yuckier’, here are a few fly facts to get you thinking:
— A single female fly may lay nearly 1000 eggs in her short life span of a few weeks.
— House flies are strongly suspected of transmitting a least 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, poliomyelitis, anthrax, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Source: Pennsylvania State college of Agricultural Services.
— Flies cost nearly $1 Billion in annual production losses to the U.S. dairy and beef industries. Source: United States Dept. of Agriculture.
You might be asking yourselves as you read today’s blog, “Why in the world is the Word Detective talking about DEAD FLIES?”
“DEAD FLIES cause the ointment of the perfumer to putrefy [and] send fort a vile odor…” ~ Ecclesiastes 10:1.
Sometimes problems can occur in our lives at just the right time! The pain bothers you or the fever spikes right when you are seeing the doctor. Or take this recent news story:
“A flight in the United States proved lucky for a British woman who suffered a heart attack. Fifteen heart specialist, all bound for a medical conference in Florida, stood up to offer help when a cabin attendant asked, “Is there a doctor on board?”
Dorthy Fletcher, 67, who had been on her way from Britain to her daughter’s wedding, said Wednesday that she owed her life to the doctors.
“I was in a very bad way and they all rushed to help” she said. “I wish I could thank them but I have no idea who they were, other than they were going to a conference in Orlando.”
Fletcher who lives in Liverpool, northwestern England, spent two days in I.C.U. at Charlotte Medical Center in North Carolina following the heart attack on Nov. 7. She spent three more days in the hospital but still made it to her daughter’s wedding on Dec. 3.
It often seems that many times it is the other way around. Something small ruins something wonderful; problems can occur around us all at the most inconvenient times! We have sometimes borrowed a figure of speech from Ecclesiastes 10 which expresses “A fly in the ointment” or perhaps a more descriptive visual, “Dead FLIES In My Soup”.
The Negative and Positive Views of Chapter 10:
“DEAD FLIES” in anything, ‘ointment‘ or your soup is obviously a negative picture. But there is a positive perspective also in Ecclesiastes 10.
LIFE SKILLS and SOCIAL SKILLS IN LIFE:
This study and investigation of the words in Ecclesiastes this week have not only been an eye opener but a reflective and convicting message to my soul. I believe that I just might have become ‘putrefied‘ and have sent a ‘vile odor‘ to some people around me. I will try to relay this concept as best as I can to eliminate the odor arising from the ointment. Chapter 10 became like an index of a book before my eyes this wee…so here we go!
We Can Avoid Many Flies That Ruin the ‘SOUP’ or The Ointment.
MAIN IDEA: Developing the right life skills and social skills that can make our life so much richer, our friendships deeper, our level of happiness higher.
God wants us to enjoy being human;He offers us verbal pictures in Scripture to what these life skills should look like and point out are own deficiencies. Ecclesiastes 10:2-3 is a good place start looking.
In the Old Testament times, people would walk in groups (short trips) and caravans (long trips). This was THE time to socialize, visit with one another. So the picture given to me, in verses 2-3, points to an obnoxious fool ruining the walk and showing everyone how stupid he is.
“A wise man’s heart turns him toward his right hand, but a fool’s heart toward his left” [v.2]
“Even when he who is a fool walks along a road, his heart and understanding fail him, and he says of everyone and to everyone that he is a fool” [v.3]
This is the opposite of the ‘fly in the ointment’; of rudeness, obnoxiousness.
Applying the “Golden Rule” principle:
“And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them” (Luke 6:31 AMP).
How hard is it for each one of us in the application of this Biblical principle? Okay, maybe not you but in my case…more times than I would like to admit. We are programmed not to do so by habit.
I was raised as a child in a Federal Housing Project in the San Diego area of California. Although the housing court my parents lived in was kept up by all the neighbors, other areas around the community were not. Trash on the lawns, tin cans to kick, dog land mines to avoid; you get the picture. As kids do, we just ignored the mess by going around the problems or stepped over it all. Now my mom–that was an entirely different story. She could hardly wait to completely move out of the area and we did so in 1954.
Today I seemed to have carried over the youthful avoidance of debris in my pathway. I’ll get out of the car in the church parking lot, not even noticing the clutter scattered on the ground; then it registers;I never picked it up without passing it first, then back tracking.
Most of us are not like the foolish man in these verses; we’re not obnoxious. But Jesus calls us not only to avoid being rude and not-caring but to be pro-active; be aggressively considerate, putting yourself in the shoes of others.
Many societies develop etiquette s and customs to nurture. In decaying societies they lose the etiquette s and protocols.
Examples of Societal Etiquette and Customs:
In the ancient Near East, Hospitality was the act of friendship shown to a visitor. “Hospitality was tightly bound up in customs and practices which all were expected to observe. As in an intricately choreographed dance, where any participant who does not observe his or her role must either learn it, or leave the dance if the whole is not to be jeopardized, so it was with the customs of ancient hospitality” [Harper’s Bible Dictionary; page 408].
In the Book of Judges in the O.T., we come upon a remote story of a traveling man and his wife which had come to the town of Gibeah in Benjamin (Judges 19-20).
They sat in the city square with no one offering them housing except an elderly man (the others had lost sight of the hospitality, etiquette, customs that were common in the Middle East). Then they tried to Sodomize the visitor and killed his wife, started war and the city was wiped out!
Not all, but some manners, courtesy, and custom forms can become a protective social hedge in society.
We shouldn’t feel bound by the traditions of our fathers. But we shouldn’t blatantly reject them without first examining them and determining their value. We need to ask ourselves, “What is it like for this person?”; in not opening our circle of friendships.
When my family move to Washington State in 1980, we started attend a local General Conference Baptist Church. The people were friendly alright, but at a distance. We were new and from all places, California.
And then out of no where, an older couple approach my wife and I and asked us over to their house after the morning service for supper. They didn’t know us but felt what better way to get to know these newcomers. We found out later this same couple gave this opportunity to every stranger that came on Sunday’s. I wasn’t their ministry, it was who they were in Christ Jesus; showing His LOVE.
We don’t seem to train our kids to include new kids. Although, younger children often do this naturally; no ‘hedges’ have been built up around them. I know I am guilty of ‘hedge-building’ unconsciously at times.
Adults tend to be superficially friendly–they don’t want new friends and unintentionally ‘snub’ others by simple neglect. Okay, GUILTY AGAIN! But the Kingdom of God potency contracts taking such attitudes and expandswhen we learn to be ‘includers‘.
Big Differences Between A Growing Church and A Stagnant Church:
One of the differences that often causes growth in the local church is a LOVE that reaches out to newcomers and incorporates them. In ‘stagnant‘ churches, people have their group of friends and that’s it! It is like a dentist that is too busy to take new clients.
Many of us have not had someone new into our homes in the last year or even five years. We might have said to ourselves, “The house is too cluttered; the front of the house looks like a ‘used car lot’; my dog doesn’t like strangers.” Those feelings might seem valid but they are attracting “FLIES”. The problem comes down to the “Golden Rule”; How would you feel if you were in a new church?
We need to model this principle in adulthood so we can raise our children with this ethic. A passive Golden Rule won’t catch it! Developing the right life skills and social skills makes our lives so much richer, our friendships deeper and our level of happiness higher.
RELATIONAL SAVVY (v.4):
Fly in the Ointment: Escalating Anger.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger” ~ Proverbs 15:1.
–don’t argue back. When someone is depressed, don’t try to persuade them that things are not as bleak as they seem right away; agree with them where you can. Human beings need space; even the best of us need to be able to occasionally sound off, be grouchy and work out our emotions.
One big problem in marriage men, let your wives have room to express their thoughts without offering solutions. After 47 years of marriage, I’m still learning this skill. It is a hard lesson: because you CAN solve the problem doesn’t mean that you SHOULD!
The development helps in keeping the flies away; making our lives so much richer, our friendships deeper and our level of happiness higher.
CHOOSING COMPANIONS CAREFULLY — (v. 5-7):
Here in Ecclesiastes, the king appoints a poor management team. On the one hand, they are not part of the pre-existing bureaucracy. On the other hand, they have not proven themselves in lesser positions (“he who is faithful in little is faithful in much”). A good structure doesn’t make for good leaders.
Fly in ointment: wonderful organization, poor selection of leaders; the risk in developing people vs. carelessness. But there is a deeper lesson here; who we are is evidenced by the kind of friends we make and depend on!
I can still hear my mother’s voice, “YOU CAN TELL A LOT ABOUT PEOPLE BY THE KIND OF FOLKS WHO INFLUENCE THEM.”
For example, some people subject themselves to the constant influence of Hollywood. Others only associate with those like them in practically every way–“GUILTY!” Still others withdraw from society becoming stagnant. We need others to challenge us, sharpen us, add to our perspective. This challenge is particularly prevalent to Seniors in our society and yet Scripture tells us, “If the ax is dull and the man does not whet the edge, he must put forth more strength” ~ Ecclesiastes 10:10.
Note these verses:
“He who walks [as a companion] with wise men is wise, but he who associates with [self-confident] fools is [a fool himself and] shall smart for it” (PROVERBS 13:20).
“Better is the poor man who walks in his integrity than he who willfully goes in double and wrong ways, though he is rich. Whoever keeps the law [of God and man] is a wise son, but he who is a companion of gluttons and carousing, self-indulgent, and extravagant shames his father” (PROVERBS 28:6, 7).
“The [constantly] righteous man is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked causes others to go astray” (PROVERBS 12:26).
“Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
MY CONCLUSION–Keeping the “ointment” or the soup from Dead FLIES:
Life is a journey where we receive no advance training; we learn as we go. But God has not left us without an abundance of wisdom in His WORD; the Bible. God is not only concerned about our destiny but the here and now. After all, in heaven we won’t have to be concerned about social or life skills. We who are “overcomers” will be perfect in heaven.
So how do you live right now, in the ‘here and now’? God cares very much about that and we should too! If there are Dead FLIES in your soup, start praying and asking God right now as I am doing also,
“God, please grant me the WISDOM in keeping FLIES away from my soup; my ointment.
Help me not to send forth a vile odor to others around me.
Help me to work on making my life richer,
my friendships deeper, and my level of happiness higher.
In JESUS NAME. AMEN.
If you prayed that prayer as I have, the change is on the way.