One of the most profound lines in cinematic history was said by a simple man on a park bench: “Stupid is as stupid does.” Solomon would likely agree with these words from Forrest Gump. In today’s reading, Solomon outlines all of the ways that folly plays out in this world. Brothers, may this passage today be a reminder for how seriously we must take the pursuit of wisdom. Leave folly—the stupidity of sin—and pursue Christ who is our wisdom.
Solomon has noticed the burden that foolishness creates in its wake. He begins by illustrating for us the effects of folly: A perfectly wonderful perfume can be ruined by a few dead flies (Ecclesiastes 10:1). Seeing how most of us aren’t buying perfume in an ancient, open-air marketplace, perhaps this scenario hits closer to home: A five-star meal can be ruined by one baby roach.
That ring a bell? See, Solomon is showing us how good things get ruined by things that don’t belong. It doesn’t even have to be the quantity of bad things ruining the good thing—sometimes one is enough. Some folly is so severe that all it takes is one occurrence to ruin it all. One night with someone who’s not your spouse. One fit of rage, lashing out at a coworker. One lie. One night of getting drunk with buddies could cost you more than the bar tab. That really good thing you’ve got going at work? Just one act of folly could ruin it all.
On the other side, there is another kind of folly, a kind of cruel irony that could come upon us in this fallen world, even an accident. A guy digging a pit could fall in and die. A man gathering stones could be crushed by them. We know this reality too. We hear about the tragedies on the news and on social media. We see the folly and the fallout when rulers are either not qualified to rule, or they don’t know how to lead with wisdom. These kinds of rulers and leaders burden people far more than they build them up. Folly is both a fuel and a fruit of this present age.
But there is hope. In the midst of all “the vapor” of this life, the words of a wise person, a person clued in to the reality of God and His ways, will be an act of grace to those who have been affected by folly (Ecclesiastes 10:12). You can offer a simple sentence from God’s Word about forgiveness, and ease the burden off someone’s back. You can point out the cross and the empty tomb of Christ to a burdened sinner, and share His words with them: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This world is full of folly—it doesn’t need anymore. The world needs your words of grace, which are echoes from your gracious Savior.
Written by Jeff Medders