Do You Recognise Your Little Foxes?
by Margaret Silvester
In pictures little foxes look sweet and innocent; as cubs they play, squabble and fight amongst themselves. They may look cute, full of energy and playful, but they are very destructive. They could rip apart a vineyard in a short time if the owner didn’t keep close watch and chase them away. They could go in and out among the vines, nip at them and damage the harvest. Apparently, in Bible times, owners of vineyards were in a continual battle with the little foxes. They could ruin a valuable harvest by devouring bunches of immature young grapes.
The Hebrew word for `catch` literally means, `seize` or lay hold of. So the exhortation was to seize the little foxes, catch them before the harvest that God intends to send; seize them because they can ruin a vineyard.
Jesus declared that He is the vine, and believers, as the branches, are called to remain in Him and to bear fruit – abundant fruit that will last and reproduce itself. So what are then little foxes that ruin our vineyards that hinder growth and take away tender fruit? I believe these are what the Bible calls the sins of the flesh – sins in our sinful nature; those sins which have become so much part of us that we don’t even recognise they are there, yet we wonder why there seems to be something between us and God and something robbing us of the true fruitfulness that the Holy Spirit desires to produce in us.
Little foxes are sins of the heart – often hidden from everyone but God, and even hidden from ourselves. They are sins like pride, jealousy, self-seeking, criticism, wanting my rights, gossip, judging others, harshness, impatience, ingratitude, self-pity, irritability, hypocrisy, mistrust, superiority, inferiority, worry and a thousand more. They are wrong things we think, wrong things we say and wrong things we do.
How these `little foxes` spoil the vines! They rob our lives of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is longing to produce in us and through us. There is only one way to deal with our little foxes – they must be put to death. They don’t stay little, they continue to grow, if they remain unrecognised, and are used by the devil to block our relationship with our Father, and with others of His children.
The Bible sometimes refers to `secret sins` as sins we fail to recognise, rather than sins done in secret. We must, therefore, ask the Holy Spirit to show us the `little foxes` that we have harboured, and to convict us that each one grieves Him. We cannot do this in our own strength. As we humble ourselves the Holy Spirit will step in and enable us to be changed. We then have only one place where we can go – to the cross in repentance, pleading the precious blood of Jesus, who died to forgive sin and to cleanse our hearts from its effect.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I bring my heart to You today and ask You to change and purify it so that I will know You better. I pray that the Holy Spirit will show me my `secret` sins that I myself am blind to. I desire to be like Jesus, to obey You and to know You better. I am powerless in my own strength, so I rely on Your grace and mercy to put my `little foxes` to death. I pray in the name of Jesus and for His glory. Amen.
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