339 The Little Foxes!
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes”. Song of Sol.2:15
A while ago I bought a large bunch of “organic” grapes, from a green grocer not far from this studio. Needless to say, they didn’t last long! They were Italian grapes, but they reminded me of the kind I had often picked up in the fruit markets of Southern France. (and those grapes taste like grapes should) King Solomon had his own vineyards, and his own grapes, and I expect he never went to a “fruit market”? Solomon knew that even grapes were vulnerable to attack! Blight, Disease and Bugs of every kind regularly swarm the valley of Jericho and the hillsides around Jerusalem, and the vines there often suffer. Yet there was another pest, lurking in the long rows of vine trees, the young foxes, who loved the tasty succulent grapes, … they were refreshing in the heat of the day, and nourishing in the cool of the night! A whole Harvest could be destroyed by “little foxes” as he reminds us in the Song of Solomon, Chapter 2.
Today, on this our “Harvest Sunday” I want to take a closer look at those “little foxes” that “spoil the vine”!
I want to look at the “Little Things” that can become “Big Things” and that can eventually ruin the Testimony and Fruitfulness of the Christian. For you see, the Christian has a Harvest of his own to reap, and God calls all his Children, to be busy every day in the great “field” of opportunity, that is this neighbourhood, this nation and this world.
Yet for most of us, if not all, it is possible to allow some little foxes into our “Harvest Field” without our awareness of the damage and disaster that they can cause. Of course I am not speaking now of the “Little Foxes” in literal terms, but rather of
the little things that can creep into our lives and that can eat away at our successes and destroy our plans, our destiny, and our eventual Harvest. I strongly believe that many will come home to God at the last with empty hands, simply because they were not aware that they had allowed some little things
to rob them of their potential Harvest!
In the moments left to me today I want to ask three questions.
Why we should …RESIST the “Little Foxes”
Why we should …REMOVE the “Little Foxes”
and Why we should …REGRET the “Little Foxes”
And we begin with
Why we should …RESIST the “Little Foxes”
From the beginning of time, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he began with a little temptation, just a little thing … eating a piece of fruit. After all what could be so seriously wrong, or illegal, or disobedient, or disloyal, or sinful about eating a piece of fruit? This was no big deal, this wasn’t murder, theft, or adultery, this was just eating food. Come on now, lets get real, this was so insignificant in the great scheme of things, surely this could make no real difference at all to Gods long term plans and purpose? You can just hear Adam and Eves minds ticking over on this . “Well it can’t hurt really” and while God had spoken to Adam, (Gen 2:16) – Eve was unsure of exactly what God had said! This is why Satan approached her in her vulnerability, so that his deception might work better on her than on him? “Did God really say?” was Satan’s line of attack, and in her eyes this “little thing” seemed no “Big Deal”. My dear friends, Satan has used that self same ploy over and over ever since.
A little puff from one cigarette will not kill you, just one glass of whiskey won’t make you an alcoholic, a one night stand will not make you a prostitute, a little cash from her purse wont make you a Bank Robber, one swear word will not make you “foul-mouthed” and so it goes on and on. Yet we all know, (and most of us from bitter experience), that it’s impossible to tell just one lie, or to sin just one time. Little things can so easily and so unexpectedly become great things. Many a man or woman in Prison today, never imagined that that’s where a casual habit would take them. We need to RESIST the little Foxes that can spoil the Vine!
St. Augustine gives a picture of how far men will go when they once begin to sin. He says “There was a man once, who in argument said that the devil made flies; “Well,” said the man with whom he was arguing, “If the devil made flies, then it is but little more to say the devil made worms!” “Well” said the other, “I believe it.” ” Well” said the man, ” If the devil made worms, how do you know but that he made small birds?” “Well,” said the other, ” It’s likely he did!” “Well,” resumed the man with whom he was arguing, “But if he made small birds, why may he not have made big ones? And if he made big birds, why may he not have made man? And if he made man, why may he have not made the world?” “You see,” says St. Augustine, “By one admission, by once permitting the Devil to be thought the creator of a fly, the man came to believe that the Devil was the Creator!” Just get one small error into your mind, get one small evil into your thoughts, commit one small act of sin in your life, permit these things to be dangled, and fondled, favoured, petted, and treated with respect, and you cannot tell where they may end up. They are small in their infancy:
but they will be giants when they come to their full growth.
Many a young man who took just one puff from a cigarette in his schooldays, never expected that by the time he was 30, that the Giant of Tobacco would have cost him his lungs or his life!
But there are many little foxes that we should resist, and most of them are invisible to the world around us. Yet they can be just as destructive of in robbing our lives of Happiness and Harvest!
These, although appearing as little things in our eyes, are big things in Gods eyes, and prevent us from having his peace and presence with us every day. There is the little fox of Pride, the little fox of Jealousy, the fox of Anger, of Bitterness, of Unforgivingness, of Untruthfulness, and the hidden foxes that God calls iniquity, which He can see, yet others cannot see!
I truly believe that there are some listening today who are hiding things from Friends and Family … and although these are “little things” of no consequence to most, they are nevertheless “Barriers to Gods Blessing” in your life, and little foxes that will destroy your Harvest. Maybe it’s only the occasional slip into the Pornographic web sites, the odd flirtation across a crouded room at a party, or the company with whom you spend some secret time. Maybe its the story you tell to your Boss where you are a little economical with the truth, or that “stock” you took home from the store when no-one was looking or checking the records. Maybe you fix the odd record in your favour, so that no-one will suspect your cheating or lies. Maybe it is a small story you tell to your Children, or to your Wife, or to your Parents, in an effort to cover up some bigger issue or problem in your life? Its no big deal, its just a “little thing” but it has the power to destroy your testimony and ruin your Harvest, and it is a fox you had better RESIST for your own good.
Then we ask the question…
Why should we …REMOVE the “Little Foxes”
Unless the Little Foxes are Resisted and Removed, they will without doubt, “Spoil the Vines”. Returning to Solomon’s poem, it is a love poem, a selection of memories that call to mind the passions and provisions of love and romance. Little Foxes are attractive little creatures, they are cute and usually appear friendly, although apparently they are impossible to catch. They seem harmless and it sounds harsh and heart-less to want to remove them or destroy them?
So it is with the “little sins” that can spoil the life of the Christian. Many of them in their beginning will also seem or appear “harmless” indeed many have argued with God that there is no real “Wrong” in what they are doing? What’s the harm? they ask. There is a common philosophy practiced by young and old in society these days that says …
“If it feels good – do it, if it harms no one, do it”
But sometimes even a “little thing” can bring great harm and destruction. The Bible says: in James 3:v5
“Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth”
and we all know that a tiny spark can set a whole forest ablaze!
I heard a story a while ago about a Pastor who came home one evening to find his young family and their friends watching a movie that he had forbidden them to view. “Oh Dad“, began the eldest son, “there’s just the tiniest little bit of swearing, and only one brief shot of nudity … honestly you would hardly notice it, … if you blinked it would be all over”! But his father was having none of it, and he removed the film from the VCR and took it in its box to his study. A while later, he was feeling a little anxious about what he had just done and though he might
try to make amends, make things up with his children and their friends, – after all he had spoiled their evening.
He crept into the Kitchen to look for some snacks and some lemonade. In the cupboard he found a box of “brownie mix” which said on the side, Biscuits in 2 minutes. Just add milk and microwave. In two minutes he marched into the living room with a tray of freshly made biscuits, and a large jug of home-made lemonade. The youngsters were delighted and he was clearly back in their favour! They all reached out eagerly for the steaming hot biscuits… “Just a minute” their Dad began, “I hope you will enjoy these biscuits, as you can see they are just fresh made! However, there is just a little “dog poop” in each of them, its just a little, not even a teaspoon-full, you wont taste it or smell it, in fact if you blink you’d miss it” One by one the children put the brownies back on the plate, they had gotten the message, – the message that once you allow just a little of what might “stink” in God eyes into your life, before long, your whole life will stink.
My dear friends, REMOVE those “little foxes” before they devour and destroy your life.
Have you ever been out walking and gotten a tiny stone in your shoe? If so, then you will know that even the smallest of stones can cause you great discomfort, especially in the more sensitive areas of your feet. It need not be a boulder, it may be just a grain, but it can ruin your walk. Are there “Little Foxes” that are ruining your walk with God today, are you out of step with Him, because He has withdrawn his presence and his peace from your life? It will be Harvest time for some of you soon, maybe sooner than you think, and are you allowing those little things to rob you of your Harvest and your Reward?
This brings me to my third point ….
Why we should …REGRET the “Little Foxes”
If you are a regular listener to THE SANCTUARY you will know that I am an animal lover, and I believe that in the Kingdom of God there is no place for cruelty of any kind, either to man or beast. Every man or woman truly born of God will be as pained to see a fly or a fox harmed. Yet I must confess that some years ago, I found it necessary to destroy a nest of young Rabbits after my Garden, its fruit, vegetables and flowers were being destroyed by an infestation of the little Bunny type.
I didn’t want to end their young lives, and spent many sleepless nights afterwards fearing that God would see ME as a “Murderer”? As an animal lover it was a very difficult thing to have to do, and perhaps one day I will have to answer to God for that uncharitable act?
What I am trying to get across to you is that some of these little sins that are destroying our lives can so easily become
“pet” sins, we can actually love them, and loath them
at one and the same time.
We can truly want to free from them, yet want to hold on to them. This is the dilemma facing many Christians who struggle with sin.
I can answer this problem for you from the word of God: If we are allowing these “Little Foxes” then we are allowing something to affect our loving relationship with God. We should REGRET the little foxes because they are coming between us and God, we are being unfaithful to our partnership with Jesus Christ, and unlike a human partner,
God will have none of it. Jesus said in:
Luke 14:33 – So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. We cannot have two Gods, two Masters, two lovers, even a little love for the world, will rob God of the Complete Devotion which he expects and deserves from us. Again the Bible declares in …
1 John 2:15 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
God shows us that to love the things of the world, (the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life) is to yield ourselves to the friendship of the world, and to turn our backs on friendship with God. How can a man who loves, truly loves his wife, go to a Prostitute? Love, real love would not allow it! Never!
My dear listening friend, if you are allowing the “Little Foxes” the little sins, some little secrets – to spoil your testimony and your harvest, then you need REGRET, you need repentance, you need to get to the place of sorrow for those sins, and you need to ask God to restore your loyalty to Him. Do you LOVE your little Foxes, or do you LOVE your tender Saviour? Do you Love the World and the things that entice you to it, or do you Love the Lord and the Person that paid such a high price for your forgiveness?
Now this final word.
Most Disease is generally caused by a small microscopic bacteria or organism. You can’t even see it with the naked eye! It is hard to believe that something that small can snuff out your life. As a result, we give more attention to pimples that surface on our faces than to lumps that may develop in our bodies.
They are the little foxes that spoil the vine! Therefore, when Satan wants to do something, he does not come as a big devil.
He comes as a little, sly fox. Satan is very subtle! The changes
he brings come very gradually. He diverts our attention little by little. Then one day, you wake up and wonder,
“How in the world did I get into this condition?”
People who lose fellowship with God do not generally do it overnight. They get slack day by day and week by week. They begin skipping their time of prayer. They become irregular in reading the Bible. They start skipping the Church services. Then before they realize what has happened, they are out of fellowship with God.
You have to be very careful about minding the little things. When the little things get out of hand, the big things will soon follow! What generally destroys marriages is some little thing.
I mean, Satan will use every available little thing to irritate and exasperate marriage partners. And, of course, the older you are, the less tolerant you are of little things that aggravate you. Once you reach a certain age, whatever comes up, comes out.
So Satan does not get us suddenly. He chisels away at us,
little by little.
We have to be very wary of little things. Watch for signs of little things that are moving in the wrong direction. Nip them in the bud, before they can come into bloom. The earlier you deal with potential hazards, the better. There will never be an opportune time to stop or correct something that spells trouble. As soon as you smell something foul or detect something wrong, stop it!
As little things come up, deal with them and move on.
Remember, the Devil’s plot is to tear you down so slowly that you will not realize anything is happening until it is too late. There are initial warning signs, but we often dismiss those as
“little, harmless foxes.”
The varieties of “little foxes” that spoil the vines are almost without limit, and probably all believers allow at least some of these into the vineyard of their lives all too easily and too frequently. Somehow it is much easier to see these marauders infesting the vineyards of others, but by God’s grace, let us seek to see, and catch, and banish the “little foxes” that have entered our own gates before the fruit is gone and the vines are spoiled.
God bless you …. Amen