2nd Session: Little Foxes That Spoil Our Vines
For the Women at Open Door Bible Baptist Church (NYC) who attended the Seminar 9-8-12
The colonial women had to be strong women. They had to help in the fields, watch out for animals that would harm the other animals or crops. One small animal they had to battle was the fox. These little critters would come into vineyards and steal blooms of the fruit before they could come to maturity.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Sol. 2:15
These furry little creatures appear cute and harmless, but they are clever. They prowl around at night and steal and destroy the blossoms of the immature fruit off the vine so that it cannot come to maturity. They appear so cute, but they are very cunning.
Little foxes in our lives can destroy our spiritual fruit. Jesus said, “I am the true vine and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth much fruit. Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:1-5).
Even though all of our fruitfulness depends on the Lord, there are little foxes that can come into our lives that can spoil our spiritual fruit.
Let us go down into our gardens see whether our vines are ﬂourishing and see if our grapes are developing. We must ask ourselves, “Are we bearing fruit for the glory of God or have we let some foxes slip by us and get into our gardens?
Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. If ye abide in Me, and My Words abide in you ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:16-17).
Since we have been chosen, ordained, called, and equipped to bear fruit for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must watch out for those foxes!
Today, let’s picture our vineyards as our testimonies. Our vines are our budding testimonies in our churches, our homes, or our workplaces. The lost are watching us. Some Christians think that as long as they don’t commit what they perceive “major” sins such as murder or adultery, God will overlook the “little” things.
Even though we are not living during Colonial Times and many things have changed, we must not compromise our values. Today many Christians will not take a stand against. I have heard many Christians say, “Times are changing, and we must change with the times.” Although times are changing, sin is sin, and it’s our responsibility as Christian women to uphold God’s Word, especially when society is calling evil good and good evil. Today many Christians would rather blend in with the world rather than be set apart from it.
We must be on guard for those little foxes that can spoil our testimonies. It is those “little sins” that undermine our love and service to the Lord.
You might say, “This little fox or sin won’t hurt anyone. Then all of a sudden, you begin to experience turmoil and stress in your life because you allowed that one little fox or sin to come into your vineyard.
Think about little things in life.
- The atom bomb was little, but it brought down the whole nation of Japan in just a few minutes.
- A flea is very little, but enough of them can kill the largest dog.
- Termites are very little insects, but they can destroy a three story house if they are ignored.
- One little moth can ruin a whole garment; and though it works in the dark, its fruits are seen in the light:
- A little wasp can sting but the pain and the swelling can remain for hours.
Some might comment on a little child when he uses bad language or he dances, shakes, or gyrates, they say, “Isn’t that cute?” But one day when that child grows up, it will no longer be cute!
It’s those “little” foxes or little things that can spoil our (testimonies) vines. We must not allow our convictions to change in order to be popular or to be accepted. Many times we try to manipulate the Scriptures to justify our worldly actions rather than allowing the Bible to transform us.
The fox is a peculiar animal. Its tendency is to dig underground, to settle in holes or burrows, and to feast on grapevines. It travels alone silently. It has an incredible sense of sight, smell, and hearing. It exhibits tremendous cleverness in going after its prey. At times, a fox will actually play dead in order to attack a bird which is within its range. They are cunning, devious, and capable of misleading its pursuers with the utmost skill.
We must catch those little foxes before they destroy our fruit (testimonies).
What are some of the foxes in our lives?
1. First little fox is busyness. Everything today is instant. We are always in a rush. Just throw a meal in the Microwave, nuke. Too busy to say “Honey, I love you.” or give a good bye kiss. Too busy to pray—Too busy to have family devotions and teach your children God’s precepts—Too busy to be a blessing to others—Too busy to witness—Too busy to attend church—Too busy making money.
Sometimes we can get too busy serving the Lord that we don’t have time to fellowship with Him. Remember when Mary sat at His feet, but Mary was so busy that she didn’t have time to fellowship with the Lord.
Luke 10:38-42 …Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered her and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Mary and Martha both loved to serve. Mary knew when she should stop serving and sit and the feet of Jesus, but Martha became overwhelmed and stressed because she was serving without the Spirit’s leading. She wanted to do the right thing by preparing a meal for the Lord, but she was more focused on her sacrificial service than loving the Lord. Many Christians today are more focused on the busyness of serving rather than knowing and loving the Lord.
Sometimes in church women get in performance traps. They feel that they must somehow prove to God and others how much they love Him. They fail to spend time with Him and rush into busyness of service for Him.
We must make sure that we do not serve the Lord because of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
When we serve others, we must serve them with a sincere love. This is a love that is without hypocrisy or deception. Romans 12:9-10 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another.
God’s Word tells me in Matthew 25:35-40 that when I attend to the needs of another, I am doing this as a service for Christ, whether anyone sees me or not.
Our tasks should be divided into three areas: useless, urgent, and important. Useless things are the things that will not matter in eternity such as watching too much television or spending too much time on the computer. We must never get too busy to spend time with the Lord.
Here are some of the consequences that we might face when we fail to read our Bibles.
- We won’t understand how to solve our daily problems. God’s Word has a solution to any problem that you might face in this life. If you don’t read and discover these truths, you will not find these solutions. 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.
- We will become nervous and fearful. We begin to think about all the “what ifs” of life. What if I can’t pay my bills? What if my husband leaves me? What if I get cancer? Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
- We will become spiritually malnourished. Getting into God’s Word daily gives us the energy we need. If we allow our minds to feed on only on the bad news of television and radio, we will become spiritually malnourished. Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
- Our minds will become easily deceived and confused. By getting into His Word, it helps us understand His precepts and recognize the false ways of the world. We will not try to justify sin by our own opinions and opinions of the world. Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. Psalms 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
- We will make wrong choices. We will not have the wisdom to make the right choices in our lives. Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
We must not get too busy to teach our children to be courteous or to be courteous ourselves. By giving a smile, a kind word, an understanding nod, a sympathetic tear, a little note of love and appreciation, or some small act of kindness could bring joy into someone’s life. On the other hand, by saying an unkind word, giving a critical opinion, or lacking to show some act of appreciation could bring someone a heartache or disappointment. Even in church, we fail to be courteous to each other. If someone says something sharp to you at church, don’t get upset and bitter. Romans 15:1 We that are strong out to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Take those bitter thoughts captive and say, “I am going to be spiritually mature in this situation. Devil, you are not going to allow what they said to hinder our relationship.”
After a few years, husbands and wives are no longer courteous to one another. If one of them makes a mistake—watch out!
We get too busy to see the people in our neighborhoods. Today people will pet dogs and ignore neighbors. They take in stray cats, but close the door to a hungry neighbor. Jesus was people oriented, concerned with the needs of those around Him.
2. The second fox is gossip– A little gossip can cause untold suffering. It is so easy to repeat a thing whether we know it is true or false. You say in your heart, “Oh, this little piece of gossip won’t affect anyone.” Then all of a sudden, someone’s testimony is completely destroyed or a church becomes divided.
Romans 1:28-32 … Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
As Paul described this evil conduct, we might expect to find mention of such vile things as greed, deceit, adultery, and murder, but take note. Paul put gossips and bad-mouthers in the same category as murderers, sexual perverts, and God haters — and those sins were worthy of a death sentence! Slander is the work of the Devil, and those who slander are on his team. It is the same Greek word in New Testament as accuser translated as diabolos “slanderer”. In fact, the Bible says that Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Are you being an accuser of the brethern? Although it may not be your intention, Satan could be using you as one of his agents.
According to James, any Christian whose mouth is out of control can’t have a right relationship with God. James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart; this man’s religion is vain.
“Gossip” is derived from the idea of “whispering.” Gossip means to indulge in idle talk or spread rumors about others. Gossip is a close cousin to slander. God’s Word places both in the same category as murder or other wicked sins. 1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Peter puts a “busybody” in the same place as “murderers, thieves, and evildoers.”
- Gossip is not just a little bad habit, but it is in the same category as murder.
- Gossips use their mouth as weapons – In John 10:10, we see that it is a weapon which is always aimed at people to fulfill Satan’s desires to “steal, kill, and destroy”.
How to recognize Gossip
- Gossip is one of the most dangerous sins because it is so subtle that many don’t even recognize it. Be on alert against gossip whenever you hear of “secret information” being circulated, or if you hear anyone else’s name is used in a conversation.
- Gossip often masquerades itself as “just a concern” for someone. Rumors or gossip will seem more palatable if they first hide behind a pretentious expression of concern. “I hate to say anything about this to you, but I’m ’concerned’ about so and so. I don’t know who else to talk to about it.”
- Gossip is not usually concerned about solving problems, but only in talking about them or stirring them up.
Although there will be times when people need to confide their own problems with a friend in the Lord, avoid revealing anything to a person who gossips and can’t be trusted. Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Things to Remember about Gossip
- Gossip is as sinful as murder and will suffer the same consequences unless there is repentance. (Romans 1:32).
- God holds you accountable for your words. (Matt. 12:36-37).
- The person who gossips to you about others, will probably gossip to others about you.
- Gossip defiles the whole body. (James 3:6).
- Gossip often masks as pretentious concerns for others.
- Gossip always contributes to a problem and never to a solution.
- Gossip always distorts and exaggerates, and is never a reliable source of truth.
- Those who gossip rarely get answers to prayer, and often face persistent, unexplainable problems. (Psalms 66:18, Prov. 21:23)
What to do about Gossip
- If you have been a gossiper, confess it as sin and ask Christ to forgive you. Surrender your tongue to Christ. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
- Make sure you have all the facts. Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer.
- If you can’t say something good or encouraging about others, keep your mouth shut. Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
- When others start bad-mouthing someone to you, change the subject. Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
Psalm 39:1 I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.
3. The third little fox is complaining-Complaining is expressing discontent or unhappiness about your present situation. Complaining doubts God.
When the Israelites experienced danger, shortages, and inconveniences, they complained and wanted to go back to Egypt (Exodus 16:1-10) verses 2-3 says “and the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Sometimes when we get so busy serving the Lord, we begin to complain. If the Lord gives us a gift to serve Him, we shouldn’t complain when He asks us to use it.
Many times difficult circumstances lead us to complain. In the pressure of the moment, the Israelites couldn’t focus on the cause of their stress but on their lack of trust in God; they could only think about the quickest way of escape their inconveniences. When pressure comes our way, we need to resist the temptation to complain for quick escape. We must focus on God’s power and His wisdom to help us deal with our everyday stresses. Many of us are good at complaining to each other, but we need to learn to take our problems to the Complaint Department. The Lord is the only One who can do anything about our complaints.
The Bible says in (Philippians 4:6-7) “be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.
Complaining comes when we shift our attention from what we have to what we don’t have. The people of Israel had forgotten what God had done for them. They got so wrapped up in what God wasn’t doing for them that they couldn’t think of anything except the delicious food they left behind in Egypt. Somehow they had forgotten that the brutal conditions of Egyptian slavery were the cost of eating delicious food. They had forgotten how God had opened up the Red Sea for them.
God might give us exactly what we complain to Him about, but it might not be want we want. God gave the Israelites what they asked for, but they paid dearly for it when a plague struck the camp. (Read Numbers 11:18-20, 31-34)
Paul warns us in Philippians 2:14-15 …do all things without murmurings and disputing. Colossians 3:16-17 says Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever you do in word, or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. When we go through difficulties without complaining, it is a witness to the lost world of God’s power in our lives.
4. The fourth little fox is pride-Pride is sinful because I am giving myself credit for something that God did. Anything I accomplish in this world would not be possible if God did not enable me to do it. Pride is the attitude that caused Satan to try to lift himself up above God. He wanted to be equal to God! It was the same lie that he told Eve in the Garden of Eden: Genesis 3:5 …God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.
Pride drives a wedge in our relationship with God and others. Read in II Chronicles 26:6-23 the account of King Uzziah. Although he was successful with foreign, domestic, and military affairs, the Bible give us a glimpse of his pride when he boldly burned incense in the temple. This was something that was only to be done by the priests. King Uzziah got angry when Azariah, the priest, withstood him. King Uzziah let his pride turn to anger, and God gave him leprosy. King Uzziah was disgraced at his death because had to be buried in a cemetery next to the tomb of the kings.
Most problems that we experience in life begin with that little word “I”.
- Problems we experience at work—How “I” felt—“I” didn’t get the treatment “I” deserved.
- Problems we experience with leaders—They didn’t treat me like “I” should have been treated?
- All categories of sin fall into three “I” areas. I John 2:15-16 Lust of the flesh-Lust of the eyes-Pride of Life.
My Name Is Pride
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
Untrue. I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.