Like dead flies in perfumer’s oil, the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Sometimes fools are elevated to positions of power, while those who are fit for the position are given no influence. The Preacher says, “I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves” (Eccl 10:7).
It’s not difficult to nod our heads and say “Amen” when we come to this example of an “evil under the sun.”
We probably all have a story to tell about a leader who wasn’t fit for a position and about the injustices we endured under their authority. When a fool is set up as an authority figure, everyone suffers.
The Preacher gives a suggestion, though: “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest” (Eccl 10:4). This doesn’t just tell us we should have a posture of humility and obedience before bad leaders. We should also teach them by responding with love and humility—something that may calm even the worst of fools.
In Hebrews 10, we find the context for this.
We stand naked and exposed to God, who judges our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. On our own, sin and guilt would condemn us. But we have a high priest in Jesus Christ. He intercedes for us, just as the Old Testament high priests interceded for the people of Israel. Our confidence is not in our own wisdom and righteousness, but in Him.
We can’t credit ourselves for our own wisdom. We stand before God on account of His Son’s righteousness and obedience. Jesus is the one who is able to withstand our folly. We stand in His righteousness, and we can learn from His obedience.
This is the reminder that I need every day. Not just in dealing with other people, but in dealing with myself. When I am reminded of it, I can overlook the unintentional harms that other members of the body cause me. When I remember, I know that I will be measured by my by responses to the actions of others.