Little Folly

By Pastor Teck Uy

We often see people fall from grace, not because of the big scandals or crimes they have committed, but by the simple foolishness they have done. In fact, all the good things they had previously done were overshadowed by that single folly they did. Looking at it from the surface, it appears to be unjust. But if we consider the Apostle Paul’s stand on this issue, he would ask and say, “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!” (Rom. 9:14). Indeed, God is not unjust at all. For the good things that we do, he rewards. But for the folly that we do, he deals with it accordingly, regardless of the good we have previously done. For this kind of justice, King Solomon aptly said, “As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour” (Eccl. 10:1).

No one should belittle the power of a little folly to destroy. The apostle Paul used yeast to illustrate its potential to bring down anything that gets in contact with it. He said, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” (1 Cor 5:6). Sin, or folly, works like yeast which spreads like gangrene and, unless quickly cut off, will bring destruction. As far as the Lord is concerned, there is no such thing as small sin or a big sin. The penalty of both is still death. This is the reason why we do not belittle sin. In fact, it is the small sins that are the most destructive yet not easy to detect. They can creep in unnoticed just like the little foxes mentioned in the Book of Song of Solomon: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (2:15).

The apostle James gave a clear description on how a little folly can bring destruction when he said, “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). Before sin bites, the temptation goes through a process. The first step is for the tempter, the devil, to drag you away from God. The devil cannot do his wicked schemes in the presence of God. He works best in the dark where he entices and allures with smooth talk and all kinds of promises until you step into his trap. It is only then that sin enters and starts to work destructively.
While God is gracious, he cannot tolerate sin because of the destruction that it brings. His justice demands that sin has to be dealt with strongly. No one can use past righteousness as a defence for sin. This truth was emphasized by the prophet Ezekiel saying, “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die” (Eze. 18:24). This should cause us to reconsider our ways. There is a need for us to endure until the end. Again, we cannot rely on past good performances or righteousness as a license to enter heaven. It is what we do today that matters to God. It is like going to school. We cannot rely on our good marks in the previous year for us to pass the current year. We have to work hard and give our best in the current year for us to pass and move on to the next level. Our good performances in the past have been rewarded and we shall again be rewarded for what we do today. This is the justice of God.

To further clarify the justice of God, the apostle James said, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). The rule that God wants us to observe in this life’s journey that we are in is an “all or nothing.” The reason for this is that God wants us to be holy, just as he is holy. A little compromise here and there will cause us to be defiled, just like a dead fly causing a jar of perfume to stink. If this is the case, who then can survive? No one! In fact, the Bible tells us that “there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Eccl. 7:20). Therefore, we are all doomed to die. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).

In our helplessness to live a righteous life, Jesus came to give us hope. He came to fulfil the righteous requirement of the Law by dying on the cross. Through him, we can now live a righteous life. Do we still sin? Yes! But the good news is that if we have received Jesus as Lord and Saviour of our life, we can draw from his provision of grace. We are told by the apostle John that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Let us therefore believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved from the consequence of our folly. Glory to God!