Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Bible study group was studying the Song of Solomon and came across Song of Solomon 2:15: "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards." Could you please explain what this means?
The context of this verse is the poetic picture of sexual love in marriage composed by Solomon's fiancé as she looks forward to her upcoming wedding with King Solomon.
She knows that there are things which can spoil their relationship. These little foxes can destroy their marriage.
In the same way, little foxes can sneak in and spoil our Christian lives. We'll look at the verse of this perspective.
Foxes That Spoil the Vineyard
Little foxes need little exposition. I won't take time to elaborate because they are really self-explanatory.
Besides, I want to focus shortly on the biggest little fox.
Look carefully! Some of these little foxes may be in your vineyard.
●Quarreling with other Christians (First Corinthians 3:1-3)
●Pride (Proverb 16:18)
●Simmering bitterness (Ephesians 5:21)
●Sexual immorality (Colossians 3:5)
●Materialism (Colossians 3:5)
●Prayerlessness (James 4:2)
●Filthy language (Colossians 3:8)
●Envy (Galatians 5:21)
●Drunkenness and drugs (Galatians 5:21)
Worldliness is the biggest little fox.
How bizarre would it be after the pastor pronounces, "husband and wife" at a wedding ceremony for the groom to take the maid of honor by the arm and walk her back down the aisle and out the door!
Unfortunately, Christians this all the time. We are married to Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:7). Yet, we leave Jesus at the altar and walk down the aisle arm in arm with worldliness!
"You adulterous people don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4)
The word, "enmity" means that worldly Christians are at war with God. What an awful position in which to be!
Demas: The Preeminent Picture of Increasing Worldliness
Three times Demas is mentioned in the New Testament. We see here three points on a graph which reveal his downward spiral into materialism.
Point One: Demas was Paul's close companion and fellow worker. There are few greater honors than that!
"Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers." (Philemon 23-24)
Point Two: Unfortunately, Demas was sliding away. In verses 7 to 13, Paul gave thanks for six fellow workers who had done great things for Christ. Unfortunately, Paul has no word of commendation for Demas: "Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings." (Colossians 4:7-14)
Is it any accident that in a context of eight Christian laborers, seven are pointed out for some good work, and one is passed over in silence?
Point Three: The final portrait of Demas is relayed in 2 Timothy 4:10:
"Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica."
"Demas, my fellow worker; Demas; Demas has deserted me!"
Three points on a curve enable us to plot the downward journey of a man who started with Jesus Christ, and ended up with the world!
Many Christians find it easy to love this present age. We make fine beginnings and some comfortable corner of this present age invites us and we nestle down in worldliness.
If I should accuse some of us of being Judas, we would be indignant. We would never deliberately sell anyone out.
But Demas, how many of us have been that?
How to Drive Out the Foxes
I’m listing below a number of things we can do to help us conquer worldliness. Don’t try to do them all at once. Just pick two or three and when you’ve conquered those pick a couple or three more.
● Understand correctly that worldliness is being concerned with worldly affairs to the neglect of spiritual ones.
● Make growing to spiritual maturity a top priority (Ephesians 4:14-15).
● Skip through the TV commercials: All advertising entices us to become worldly materialists.
● Whether you have much or little, be content with what you have (Philippians 4:10-14).
● Downsize: Be generous rather than selfish (Matthew 6:2). Think of the rich, young ruler.
● Manage your money well so you don't over spend on worldly things (Proverb 27:23).
● Associate with spiritual people instead of social climbers (Psalm 1:1-3).
● Do not covet your neighbor’s house (Exodus 20:23).
● Walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
● Be warned. "Everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2: 16).
● Refuse to be polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
● Be warned: Choose to be a friend of the world and you'll become an enemy of God (James 4:7).
● Walk in the kingdom of light and stay away from the kingdom of darkness (Matthew: 6-33).
One of the basic reasons that we have foxes in our vineyards is because we struggle with worldliness. We have yet to fully commit ourselves to doing things God's way (James 4:7).
Either we are walking in the Kingdom of Light or we are walking in the Kingdom of Darkness.
In God's Kingdom of Light, everything is based on God's will and way: "Let's do it God's way! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
On the other hand, in the Kingdom of Darkness most everything is based on my way: "Let's do it MY way."
The language in the Kingdom of Darkness is spelled "G-R-I-P-E". People who live in the Kingdom Of Darkness are like the Israelites in the wilderness. They murmured and griped for 40 years. They griped about the food, the weather, the work, the water, and Moses!
On the other hand, the language of the Kingdom of God is spelled P-R-A-I-S-E. "In everything give thanks!" "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be in my mouth."
It's easy to pick out the people who live in the Kingdom of Light. They spend a lot of time praising the Lord: "The Lord gives, Lord takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
The problem with many Christians is that we're living too close to the border. We want to submit to God, but keep on doing things our way.
People who live in border towns often mix together the languages spoken on each side of the border. In my country, on the Texas side, people speak English. On the Mexico side, they speak Spanish. Over the years the two languages have meshed together. We call the new language "Tex-Mex" or Spanglish".
You'll know if you have a foot in each kingdom, when you begin speaking, "Gripe-Praise". "I feel terrible, but praise the Lord anyway!"
God says, "Stop flirting with worldliness! Keep both feet in the Kingdom of Light. From now on, let's do it my way!"
After all, the problem with straddling the fence is that it always hurts in the middle!
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/JerryGrugin