Fight the Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine
- Terry K. Hagedorn Today's Christian Preacher Magazine
- 2007 13 Jul
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)
In Greenville, South Carolina, my elderly neighbor owned a lovely picket fence. The fence had a gorgeous ivy vine growing down its entire length. Although the vine grew from one main stalk, at approximately every other post, it had been carefully trained back into the ground by my neighbor.
One day my dog tunneled under that fence. He damaged the vine by his digging. A few days later I was shocked to see an entire section of the vine withered on the fence. I apologized to my neighbor. He kindly forgave us. Although he was very understanding, my wife and I felt terrible about the damage because it was a very long time before the vine reclaimed its beauty.
Every time I read Song of Solomon 2:15 (“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines”), I am reminded of that huge vine and its little destroyer.
The lesson is, of course, that little, seemingly insignificant things can cause grossly disproportionate damage. We must guard ourselves against little foxes that do great harm to a Christian’s life.
A Little Laziness
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10, 11)
Laziness spoils the vine of industry and success. Ultimately, the lazy person will come to poverty. A little laziness grows bigger. The lazy person gets even lazier! This verse teaches that a little sleep-a nap-becomes a little slumber, and a little slumber becomes deep, almost catatonic, sleep.
Wake up! Get out of bed! Get busy-before it’s too late! You’ll be too poor to own a place or even a bed. Chase the little fox of laziness from your tender vines, or you’ll have no vines, no grapes, and no profit.
A Little Folly
“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
A person who has a reputation for wisdom and honor can destroy that reputation by one off-color joke, one foolish deed, or one ungodly attitude. A moment’s mischief by one little fox of folly can outlast years and years of hard work.
One’s entire reputation can be destroyed overnight. Guard that vine. Do whatever it takes to keep the little foxes from your precious vine of reputation. It is easier to maintain a good reputation than to try to restore a sullied one.
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)
Not only is it impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), but the Lord is displeased by our little faith. And yet, the same Lord who is dismayed at our little faith is also the one who said that mustard-seed-sized faith can move mountains.
It seems that His displeasure is not so much with the size of our faith, but with the fact that we do not take advantage of those opportunities to increase our faith that His grace supplies. Faith comes by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). Do you read God’s Word? Prayer can build us up in our faith (Jude 20). Do you pray?
“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:47)
Little love, lost love, and leaving the first love are insults and affronts to the Lord. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4).
The love of Christ constrains us-not our love for Him but His love for us. The hymn says: “No one ever cared for me like Jesus.” I love Him because He cares for me. He demonstrated His great love in that He died for me.
Another hymn says: “My heart is thrilled, my heart is filled to think He died for me.”
Do you have little love? Jesus said that all the Law could be summed up in one command, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). Today Jesus asks you and me, “Lovest thou me?” What is your answer? My answer is: “I love you, Lord Jesus.”
A Little Leaven
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (I Corinthians 5:6)
No one wants a little cancer, does he? Yet, people tolerate a little sin in their lives. Sin is cancer of the spirit. Cancer can destroy your life. Sin can destroy the soul. One malady is temporal; the other is eternal.
The insidious effect of one man’s sin spreads to others. “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7). We affect others. “Evil communication corrupts good manners” (I Corinthians 15:33). The West Virginia translation of that verse is: “If you lie down with dogs-you’re gonna’ get up with fleas!”
The Little Tongue
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:5, 6)
The tongue is a little member in the body. A dagger is small compared with a sword, but it can kill just as well.
In school, we catalogued all the kinds of sin recorded in the Bible. We were surprised to learn that there are more sins associated with the tongue (speech) than any other part of our being. These sins include blasphemy, lying, gossiping, cursing, and backbiting.
Among my many sins, some of the most regrettable have been things that I have said. The Lord has forgiven me. As He gives grace, I will praise Him.
Words hurt, don’t they? We should not teach our children: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That is not true. I would much rather have been beaten with a club than to have had some things said about me.
A little match can burn down a forest. A little tongue can do irreparable damage to a life. Bite your tongue before it bites you.
“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10)
Some people with a terminal disease feel that they actually have been given a great gift. Suddenly, the so-called little things become so much more important in their lives. They take time to smell the roses. They notice a beautiful sunset. They hear the birds singing. They savor every little nuance of life and are thankful for the privilege of enjoying them.
The wise relish family get-togethers. A birthday, an anniversary, or a holiday becomes more special. It’s not a stop-at-the-store-on-the-way-home-and-buy-a-three-dollar-card-and-a-cheap-box-of-chocolates type of day. It’s a let’s-make-a-memory type of day.
Many of the rest of us, like brute beasts, muddle through our lives to a sudden death, having never truly appreciated the little things. To the wise, little things mean so much! Let’s learn from the wise. May we praise God for everything including the so-called “small things.”
The Lord resents ingratitude (Romans 1:21). “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Have you ever done something for someone and then never received so much as a thank-you? It hurt, didn’t it? Don’t you know that it hurts the Lord when we are given so much every day and don’t thank Him?
Little foxes can and do spoil the vine. The little foxes in our spiritual life can do so much harm. Let’s “take . . . the foxes, the little foxes.” Let’s chase the little foxes from our lives before the vine is damaged and life’s tender grapes are destroyed-before it’s too late.
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