Summary: Developing the right life skills and social skills can make our lives so much richer, our friendships deeper, and our level of happiness higher.

A Fly in the Ointment

(Ecclesiastes 10:1-10)

1. And sometimes problems occur at just the right time:

(1) the pain bothers you or the fever spikes right when you are seeing the doctor

(2) or take this news story:

"A flight in the United States proved lucky for a British woman who suffered a heart attack. Fifteen heart specialists, all bound for a medical conference in Florida, stood up to offer help when a cabin attendant asked, "Is there a doctor on board?"

Dorothy Fletcher, 67, who had been on her way from Britain to her daughter’s wedding, said Wednesday that she owed her life to the doctors.

"I was in a very bad way and they all rushed to help," she said.

"I wish I could thank them but I have no idea who they were, other than that they were going to a conference in Orlando."

Fletcher, who lives in Liverpool, northwestern England, spent two days in intensive care at the Charlotte Medical Center in North Carolina following the heart attack on Nov. 7.

She spent three more days in the hospital, but still made it to her daughter Caroline’s wedding.¨ (Dec. 03)

2. But it seems that many times it is the other way around: something small ruins something wonderful, and problems occur at the most inconvenient times!

3. We have borrowed a figure of speech from Ecclesiastes 10 to express this: "A fly in the ointment."

4. This is a tough chapter¡: (1) the commentaries are all very unsatisfying;

(2) Sermoncentral is bankrupt in Ecclesiastes;

(3) Finally I consulted my old sermons from 1985 and 1992 to "bail me out" but I skipped this chapter when I preached through Ecclesiastes in both 85 and 92

5. As I prayed and thought and searched, all of a sudden the key to the this chapter opened up: the figure of speech found in verse 1 is exemplified in the rest of the chapter "a fly in the ointment." Read verse 1 with me!

6. On the negative side, we can find the various "flies in the ointment." But then I saw things from a positive perspective, and the chapter came to life. Ecclesiastes 10 is about Life skills, social skills. It reads like the index of a book.

7. So rather than hit a few highlights and skip over chapter 10, I now need to divide it into two---too much to cover in one week! It is not that the text itself is that deep; it is, rather, that the subject matter the text suggests lends itself to applications and expansion; so this will not be a strictly expository message; I am not claiming all my points arise from the text. But, getting back to the text,

8. We can avoid many flies that ruin the ointment.

MAIN IDEA: Developing the right life skills and social skills can make our lives so much richer, our friendships deeper, and our level of happiness higher.

TS------------- God wants us to enjoy being human, and so he offers us verbal pictures of what these life skills look like.

I. Consideration of Others (2-3)

In OT times, people would walk in groups (short trips) or caravans (long trips). This was THE time to socialize, visit. The picture here is of an obnoxious fool ruining the walk and showing everyone how stupid he is.

1. This is opposite of the fly in the ointment called rudeness or obnoxiousness

2. How hard it is for each one of us to even think of applying the Golden rule:

Luke 6:31. "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

3. We are programmed not to do so by habit.

(1) I was raised in Cicero, IL, three blocks from the City of Chicago limit; there was always garbage on the street, glass, cans, and dog land mines; you just walked around things and thought nothing of it...

(2) I still tend to walk by debris in the church parking lot; if it registers, I never pick it up without passing it first and then backtracking

(3) Most of us are not like the foolish man in this verse, we are not generally obnoxious; but Jesus calls us not only to avoid being rude, but to be pro-active, be aggressively considerate

4. Putting yourself in the shoes of others

5. Societies develop etiquettes and protocols to nurture this decaying societies loose etiquette and protocols

6. There is a remote story in the book of Judges about a man traveling with his wife and coming into the town of Gibeah in Benjamin they were sitting in the city square, but no one offered them housing except an elderly man (the others had lost the hospitality etiquette common in the Middle East). Then they tried to Sodomize the visitor and killed his wife started a war, city wiped out

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