First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ September 27, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Ecclesiastes 10:1-4; 2 Galatians 5:7-10
You may have heard a version or another of this powerful proverb. The proverb can be traced back to the 13th century A.D. and it highlights the importance of small things. Small things matter. This is a lesson that we get to learn over the years and sometimes we learn it the hard way. The proverb goes like this: “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the knight was lost. For want of a knight, the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” It’s almost impossible to believe that because of a missing horseshoe nail, the kingdom would eventually fall.
This morning we continue our sermon series in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and I believe this is our 13th lesson in Ecclesiastes. I hope you’ve gotten some wisdom out of all of this. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon, who calls himself the Qoheleth, which means the Preacher or the Teacher, has been pressing home a very sobering message. His basic message is that life without God, life without a real saving knowledge and relationship with and of God is empty–it’s meaningless; it’s vain; it doesn't make sense; it’s for no end or no purpose–there’s no sense to it at all. Solomon wants us to get this transforming truth. So throughout Ecclesiasts, the Qoheleth is inviting us to think hard about life and how we’re living our life.
Solomon says that people try so hard to fill this vacuum, this emptiness. There are all sorts of ways that people attempt to find meaning and fulfilment in this life. He says that some people try to find or create meaning in money, in pleasure, in vocation, in family, in education, and in so many other things. Solomon says, in themselves, all these things are not bad or evil, but they will fail to provide meaning for life. Only in a relationship with a loving God that we find meaning and purpose in life. Life will be meaningless without the ONE who created this life and gave it meaning.
Then the Preacher comes to chapter 10. Suddenly we get this unassociated list of parables and proverbs. What are we supposed to do with this? How does this fit with the flow of the Qoheleth argument? Well, remember that Solomon is still dealing with folly and wisdom. This whole chapter, Ecclesiastes 10, though it may seem like a rambling set of unconnected proverbs is actually a meditation on foolishness and what it means to be a fool. One single thought for this morning: a little folly can do a lot of damage.
A Little Folly Can Do a Lot of Damage
“Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor,” says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 10:1. A little folly can do a lot of damage. Don't underestimate folly. Just one little dead fly can make the best perfume stinks. One bad apple ruins the whole barrel. A little match can burn down a forest. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines,” says Song of Songs 2:15. Little foxes do spoil the vine. The little foxes in our spiritual life can do so much harm. Unless they are chased away, these foxes will damage the vine and life’s tender grapes will be destroyed. “A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough,” says Paul in Galatians 5:9. A small mistake can mess up a wonderful reputation. Ecclesiastes 10:1 is actually packed with meaning, and I want to point out two things this morning:
First: Our Character has a Fragrance
Ecclesiastes 10:1 reminds us that our character has a fragrance. In this passage the wise person’s character, is compared to perfumer’s oil and the fool’s character is compared to dead flies. The point that Solomon is making here is that wisdom shows. Our character shows, or, to use the particular sense being emphasized here, you can literally smell character. For the wise person, it’s a glorious fragrance. But for the foolish, it’s a stinky odor, like dead flies. In 2 Corinthians 2:15, Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth saying. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
Second: Folly is a Heart Problem
Folly is a heart problem, shows itself in character and conduct. In Ecclesiastes 10, the Preacher argues that folly is essentially a heart problem, that it shows in our character and conduct. In Ecclesiastes 10:2-3, Solomon says, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left. Even when fools walk on the road, they lack sense, and show to everyone that they are fools.” Folly is a heart problem. A wise person’s heart directs them towards the right, but a foolish person’s heart directs them towards the left.
Friends, little things do matter. Little good things can have a great impact on those around us. In the same way, little bad things can leave a sour taste in somebody’s mouth. Let’s never forget that our character has a fragrance. What kind of aroma we spread around us? Let’s also remember that folly is a heart problem. May be we need to examine our heart and pray the words of King David in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Amen.
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