The tagline title for this message comes from a biblical admonition in Song of Songs 2:15, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.”
From this agrarian precautionary concept of protecting vineyards from devastating effects of little predators, comes an incredibly sobering principle of how we preserve and protect our personal integrity, not only as Christians, but also encompassing our human life as a whole.
Let’s explore a bit more on the little foxes in relationship to vineyards in bloom, when the grapes are just beginning to form on the vine. Little foxes, compared to fully grown ones, are more devastating to the vines when they invade the vineyard because of the following factors:
- Little foxes are difficult to detect under the shrub of vineyards, as compared to fully grown foxes that can be easily seen as they push their way through the vineyard.
- The little foxes chew and attack the stems and roots of vines, which are the lifeline of the plant, whereas the fully grown foxes may be nibbling on the branches and leaves, which do not have immediate fatalistic outcomes.
- When the little foxes chew on the roots and stems of vines, such destruction is often times discovered a bit late when the vines may not be easily saved, whereas fully grown foxes nibbling on branches and leaves are easily observed as the top of the vines begin to wilt. But such wilting of leaves and branches can be easily dealt with before the whole vine dies.
Crux of the matter
As a point of order, we should not lose sight of what’s really being addressed in this interesting principle of little foxes.
Here is the crux of the matter: Blatant, or so called big SINS, may not easily compromise the majority of Christians, as they often would detect them and resist their attempt to invade their lives. But it’s the insidious and subtle little acts of compromise that can cause serious damage to a child of God, if left unchecked.
The apostle Paul tells us, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
It’s these little hidden sinful acts, at times characterized as no big deal, which may not be easily observable by those around us, or even taken seriously by ourselves, that subtly and progressively chew on our moral and spiritual fiber, resulting in sometimes irreversible damage to our personal integrity. Unfortunately, at times these little shameful acts are secretly carried out, so we think; while it’s plainly stated, “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence” (Psalm 90:8).
We would certainly be amiss if we leave this subject at this juncture, without giving guidance on how these little foxes can be caught and cast out of our vineyards. Here below I will outline two fundamental requirements to help us fend off the incessant attacks of little foxes.
Catch the Little Foxes
The first defense against the little foxes is to build a firm and compact hedge or fence around the vineyard, making sure the little foxes cannot dig under the fence or easily worm their way through the matrix of the fence.
This mean that we should fortify our lives with moral, ethical and spiritual defenses that will make it difficult for us to be easily compromised by even what may sometimes seem like innocent acts.
Watch out for “Sugar Coating”
You have heard the expression “sugar coating” something. This is when something appears quite appealing and “sweet” but it may be a mere veneer over some dangerous and deadly poison. Here is wisdom from Proverbs 5:3-5, “For lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.”
It’s a fact that there are some who may be reading this article who know of someone, and even themselves, who may have fallen victim to sugar coated appeals, only to find out the venom that was hidden in the seemingly innocent appeal. They find themselves in a noose, and may be fighting for their life.
The prudent step to take is not to allow oneself to get too close or to gullibly enter such a trap; but to maintain a firm and uncompromised hedge of protection around your heart. The Psalmist says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The word of God, when consistently reflected on, inculcates a clear sense of righteous wisdom that will detect the advances of even some insidious evil appeals.
Also, building a firm hedge around your life, means abstaining even from the very appearance of evil, and not necessarily waiting until sin takes hold of one’s life. Building a firm hedge around our life entails using quality building materials of good moral and spiritual standing.
Let us build on the firm foundation of a rich and quality life in Christ, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and fire will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13).
Continue building your life with genuine materials of righteousness and truthfulness. When our life is fortified by such quality and genuine spiritual understanding in Christ, we’ll effectively swat off the little foxes.
When a vineyard is fortified by a firm hedge, it has reasonably been protected from easy access of little foxes. However, the persistent and unrelenting pestering of the hedge by little foxes that want to reach the vines, might in the process fester and break through it. Therefore, the application of a second layer of protection is essential.
Diligently watching the hedge
Therefore, it’s important to employ the second defense, against persistent little foxes, which is keeping diligent watch over the vineyard and the hedge surrounding it.
It’s important to always be alert in checking the parameters of the vineyard, to detect any potential weak points that may be lurking in the hedge’s boundary. It’s through diligent patrols of the vineyard that potential compromises in the defense can be easily discovered and dealt with decisively, to avoid the invasion of insidious, yet devastating attacks of little foxes.
Alertness in diligently watching over our spiritual life in Christ is encouraged in scripture. A healthy and consistent prayer life by a Child of God is one sure way of keeping diligent watch over the spiritual hedge that will fend off the little foxes, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Also, cultivating a strong prayer life helps to keep our spiritual antennas up against subtle innuendoes of the enemy of our souls, the devil, “And praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
The farmer who realizes a great harvest of grapes, the fruit of the vine, knows that they have had, at times, to forego some comforts, such as sleep, in order to preserve and protect their crop from predators, such as little foxes, “So, then, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
Child of God keep on catching those little foxes, until you have reaped a great bumper harvest of your spiritual and life’s fruit through Christ our Lord. Amen!