(3.12.23 Sermon Summary)
By: Bob Erbig
“The Fight Against Folly”
The book of Ecclesiastes delves into many important life issues. Meaning, purpose, time, money, even death! One topic we neglect is folly. What is folly? Simply put, folly is a costly undertaking having an absurd or ruinous outcome. Another way to describe folly is “foolish endeavors.” The pursuit of folly is often enticed by our sinful nature, which promises pleasure and fulfillment, but leads to ruin and destruction. As the puritan writer John Owen once said, “be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”
Generally speaking, folly occurs in three non-exhaustive categories. First, there is relational folly. We all have, or will, make mistakes in friendships or romantic relationships. Second, there is financial folly. We can easily make poor investments with our money despite wise advice to the contrary. Third, there is spiritual folly. This categorize lurks below the surface of our heart. It manifests itself in the idols we create and worship—an addiction, a secret sin, or a good thing, like excellence at work, can easily become an ultimate thing.
How do we fight against folly? In Ecclesiastes 10, Solomon offers a battle plan by introducing us to three small animals.
The Stench of Dead Flies
In 10:1, Solomon tells us that folly and foolishness are like dead flies in expensive perfume. The point of the illustration is this: you can be the wisest person in the world like Solomon—but just a few foolish decisions can tarnish your life. Think about your own life. You can make wise decisions for 80 years—but if you let just a little bit of folly in at the end of life, it can change the way you are remembered. Solomon tells us to watch our path (10:2-3) and hold your ground (10:4) against folly.
The Venom of a Snake
Second, we meet a snake charmer. Ecclesiastes 10:11 says, “If a snake bites before you charm it, what’s the use of being a snake charmer?” The point, of course, is that the snake is a dangerous animal. It has deadly venom. While the fly can make your life stink, the snake can end your life. Likewise, folly is something that must be tamed. Beware! Solomon says that a snake might be hiding around the corner if we are not looking.
The Tweet of a Bird
The final animal we meet is a bird. Here, Solomon confronts our use of words head on. What happens when we use words foolishly? Ecclesiastes 10:12 says, “The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.” Put another way, we can use our words to influence people, or we can use them to talk about ourselves. How we use words is often seen in how we react to people. Too many of us have ignored the exhortation of James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
We fight against the folly of our words by cultivating a life of grace. Are we a reactive people or a grace filled people? We can develop grace in our lives by spending time with Jesus. He invites us to come, eat at his table, and soak in his presence. He died for our folly so we can life a based on his wisdom and peace.