“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.”
In our home, we keep the butter in a dish on the counter so that it can stay soft when we want to use it. One time we forgot to put the lid on the butter, and when I went to use it on my food, I found a fly landed in the butter and got stuck. At that moment, there was nothing more unappetizing than discovering the fly in the butter. The butter that I thought would taste good on the food no longer seemed to be needed to make that food taste better. The dead fly in the butter took my desire away from using the butter.
The verse above says, “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour…” The apothecary was the pharmacist who prepared drugs for medicinal uses. This verse says that a dead fly ruins the purpose for which the ointment was supposed to be used. Discovering one fly in the ointment ruined the healing powers of the whole container in which the ointment is stored.
God used this illustration to teach a lesson about discovering the fly in the character of those who can help you in life. Notice that the verse continues by saying, “…so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” Finding the folly in the person who was to be so wise was like finding the fly in the ointment of the apothecary. Just like one fly in my butter caused me to want to throw the whole container of butter away; likewise, finding a fly in a person’s character causes many to throw the wisdom and help of a leader away to their own detriment. Let me remind you of a few thoughts about finding the fly in a person’s character.
First, you will eventually find a fly in everyone’s character. Every person has flaws because every person is a sinner. If you think you are going to find the perfect spouse, parent, pastor or leader, you are very disillusioned. Every person has some fly in their character that you will eventually discover by spending time with them.
Second, don’t let one fly ruin the benefit of that person. Notice that the verse above says, “…a little folly.” The individual in whom you found the fly isn’t covered in flies, but you only found a little folly or one fly in their character. Just because you found a fly doesn’t mean you should do away with a person who has much to contribute to your life. Many Christians have foolishly left a church because they discovered the fly in their pastor’s character. Many marriages have been ruined because a spouse focused on the fly in their spouse’s character. My friend, the fly you discover may not be the most appetizing, as if any flaw is appetizing, but just because you found the fly in their character doesn’t mean you should throw them away and miss out on their good qualities. If you continually throw away relationships every time you find a flaw, you will one day find yourself alone.
Third, choose to look at the whole person instead of focusing on the fly. Many people focus on the one fly instead of seeing the person as a whole. I would imagine that the person whom you found the one fly in their character has more good qualities than bad ones. My friend, stop letting the fly destroy your relationships. Yes, you are going to find a fly in everyone’s character, but if you choose to dwell on their good qualities, you can benefit from their good qualities.