A Fly in the Ointment
By Garrett Ellis
Because we serve a risen Savior who cannot be seen visually at this moment in time, the Lord uses Christians as conduits to show Himself to this world. The adage, “we may often be the only Jesus that a fallen world may ever see,” is completely true. God wants to heal, encourage, save and comfort non-believers through His Son Jesus being indwelt (living) in us.
That is why it is important for us to be conscious of what we say and do. As leaders, ministers and believers, we have to be aware that this world is constantly watching us, studying us even, in order to see if the Jesus we preach is real, not only in His own right, but in our lives as well.
Ecclesiastes 10:1 says this: “Dead flies putrefy the perfumers ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.” (NKJV)
As young parents, with first one and then two small children, my wife and I spent Saturday mornings cleaning the house from top to bottom. Outside of work and parenthood, this was the only time we had to freshen the house and put in some elbow grease. But we learned early on not to make this mistake: cleaning the bathroom with all types of nice smelling, fresh cleaning supplies and then put a dirty diaper into the bathroom wastebasket.
Putting that soiled diaper into the basket in the midst of a clean bathroom defeated all of the fresh smells in the room and infected it with bacteria. It was like we hadn’t cleaned anything. Our walk in Christ as we live in this world is the same. He is the perfumer and our tendencies to act out of unrighteousness makes the aroma of Christ escape the noses of those who need Him most. Just like not placing that diaper in the outside trash may have been a very small, innocent mistake, we can make small, innocent mistakes that affect how people view Christ. Not treating people with Grace, not viewing them as people God loves, being legalistic; these things among others can really damage a person’s view of God. Regardless of whether we know it or not, the more we honestly live by God’s word, the more we are looked at as having some measure of wisdom. We need to be mindful of this.
Also, it is not always how we live in front of non-believers damaging their view of Christ; it can also be what we do to our brothers and sisters who are already a part of His body. Lying to one another, being greedy for what our brother or sister has, being reckless with each others feelings, not being consistent in our worship; the non-believer sees our actions and may think that the God we serve acts the same way. We can injure God’s reputation by exhibiting our own fleshly foolishness. We should always be cognizant of the fact that they will know us and know God by the love we show one another (John 13:34-35).
Now, I don’t want it said that I am trying to promote legalism. We all know that none of us, believers included, are perfect. We are going to make mistakes until the day that Christ returns. But, when mistakes happen, we must apologize to believers and non-believers alike for our faults; pray, repent and ask God how we should rectify the situation if possible and how He can get the ultimate glory out of the circumstances. We have to be humble, always ready for reconciliation and transparent enough to let someone know that even though we are imperfect, God is perfect and doesn’t act the way we sometimes act.
The main point: represent God well, as best as we can. Try our best to prove to others by the repentant lifestyle we live and by the care we devote to loving others that God is real; that He loves the world and that a decision to grow in relationship with Him is the most important decision one can ever make.
In the midst of our imperfection, we should always be trying to improve our character. And when a fly does show up in our perfume, the God- inspired aroma we give off, remove it with grace and humility and then move forward. We never know if our actions will help someone to meet Christ face-to-face when He returns.
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