Hundreds of years ago lived a king named Solomon. One night God spoke to Solomon in a dream and asked him to make a wish. God not only granted Solomon’s request for wisdom, but God also made him the richest king who ever lived. Solomon later wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, which is a sort of blog about his journey for purpose and fulfillment.
In fact, we still quote some of Solomon’s sayings. There is nothing new under the sun, Everything is beautiful in its time, Eat, drink and be merry, A little birdie told me….just to name a few.
Tucked away in Chapter 10 verse 1 are some words that caught my attention several years ago.“Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench…” I had no clue what that meant!
I learned that in Solomon’s day, ointment was used for many purposes. Although it had medicinal uses, it was also sweet smelling and used as a perfume. But if during the making of the ointment a fly made its way into the ointment and was not removed immediately, it would die and soon the stench from the decaying body of the dead fly would permeate the entire batch of ointment.
One little dead fly didn’t seem to be that big of a deal – and the maker of the ointment would be tempted to just ignore it. But if he didn’t get rid of that fly, his entire batch of perfume could be ruined.
And so “a fly in the perfume” came to mean that a small thing that is bad, can ruin all that is good. Sort of like “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.”
Have you ever known someone who always seemed to find something wrong with everything no matter how good everything else was? Solomon realized in his search for purpose and meaning in life that if we focus on the negative irritations and annoyances – they will ruin the good things in our lives.
When you and I dwell on the ‘flies in the perfume” we are never satisfied. Things are never good enough, we’re always waiting for something bigger and better. If we aren’t careful, we can allow things that annoy us to overshadow everything else that is good. We become people consumed with complaining and we lose our joy in life.
I have found myself falling into that trap more often than I would like to admit. When that happens, I try to remember that everything I have comes from God and life is not determined by what we get but by what we give back.
We can’t deny that there is an abundance of struggles and disappointments in this world. Life is unpredictable. But God asks us to remember that He has a purpose bigger than any problem we are facing and if we ask Him, He will give us the strength to make it through. How do we avoid becoming a “fly in the perfume” allowing negativity to take over our lives?
We can’t change the fact that life is unpredictable, but we do have the ability to choose how to respond. We can either fight against those things out of our control, which we all know is frustrating, or we can accept them and embrace them and adjust our lives to them.
When we make our main focus the negative things in life – it tends to make our entire perspective negative. Your ability to enjoy life is largely dependent on the perspective you bring to life. A breath of fresh air or a bad stench? The choice is up to you!