A Fly in the Ointment
In Eccessiastes Solomon wrote, Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor (Ecc. 10:1). That is, when dead flies are discovered floating in a vat of perfumed oil, the whole batch is ruined! Dead flies give, even a vat of concentrated perfumer’s oil, a bad smell! And it only takes one or two flies in the ointment to spoil the sweet fragrance of the perfume and most is worthless.
Likewise, in the body of Christ, one or two malcontents can spoil the fellowship and stink up the place! In the midst of the sweet aroma of a united fellowship, striving to fulfill the purposes and plans of God, a fly can spoil the ointment! Division among believers spoils intimacy in fellowship, shakes the faith of new converts, damages the cause of Christ to the unbelieving world, and breaks the heart of God. At the church of Philippi, Paul was aware of a fly in the ointment. Epaphroditus brought word to Paul of the conflict between two women in the congregation, Euodia and Syntyche. Paul urged the two women to reconcile their differences and live in harmony in the Lord (Phil. 4:2).
Can you imagine what it felt like to be one of these two women? In a letter that contained no rebukes, no correction of doctrinal error, or reprimand for moral failure, in a letter that consists of positive encouragement to press on in the Lord, in a letter intended to be read publicly to the congregation, can you imagine? Can you imagine hearing your name announced as one of the two flies in the ointment that was spoiling the fragrance of Christian harmony? Just how much was holding on to that grudge worth to those two women? We do not know the details of the disagreement but I don’t think it was worth what it cost them. Mercifully, the reference to Euodia and Syntyche was brief. Much was left unsaid causing me to fear that the details were well known to the congregation. Paul’s gentle plea for unity is immediately tied to joy. These two women had lost the joy of Jesus. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near! (Phil. 4:4-5). The joy of the Lord produces a gentle spirit. Joy. Gentleness. Fruits of the Holy Spirit. That is the testimony the Christian world should be known for, not bickering and in-fighting!
Until Jesus returns, may we be found faithfully serving Him - refusing to become a fly in the ointment of Christian unity within the body of Christ. Just something to think about! Blessings.
Linked to Spiritual Sunday.