Dead Flies And Folly

Character is the attribute or feature that makes up and distinguishes an individual. The character of a man is found in who he is and how he is perceived by others and by God. Noah was a man of upright character when the Lord said of him, "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations." (Genesis 6:9) The reason for Noah's character was that he walked with God. Joseph had a sterling character even though he was taken captive into a foreign land, he still sought to serve God. "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9)

Paul commended Timothy to the church at Philippi when he said concerning Timothy: "For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel." (Philippians 2:20-22) Dorcas was a woman of great character as in her death, her life spokes of the wonderful deeds she did for others. (Acts 9:39)

Solomon wrote about character in his study of life as found in the book of Ecclesiastes. Wisdom is shown to be of greater value that foolishness and strength of armies. "There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Then I said: ‘Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.'" (9:14-18) The word "wisdom" is found more than 75 times in the Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. The wisdom literature is replete with admonitions to seek after wisdom from God. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

Folly can destroy wisdom. Folly is foolishness and will destroy all the good accomplished by wisdom. "Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly." (Proverbs 16:22) Solomon follows up his observation of wisdom in Ecclesiastes 9 with the result of wisdom tempered by folly. "Dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor." (10:1) The swarms of flies prevalent in the land would very soon destroy the worthiness of anything left uncovered. Such is folly to wisdom.

The character of a man must endure the temptations that attack it each day. While it takes a lifetime to establish a good name, a moment's reckless folly will destroy it in a single blow. The worth of costly perfume can be ruined in a moment and the greatest feast can be destroyed if the flies of folly are allowed to swarm over the good character of the child of God. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)

Our character should not be overwhelmed with flies. Live in such a way that you present yourself a sweet-smelling aroma. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

By Kent E. Heaton Sr.

Return to the General Articles page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /