25 March 2000

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes"-Song of Solomon 2:15 The church of Christ is a noble vine. It is the place where noble fruit is born, the tender grapes of God's spirit: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance". Since this is a love song, we should know that the fruit the vine bears is in proportion to the love they have for their great husbandman, Christ. In his "Song of Songs", Solomon relates the many earthly distractions that will attend such fellowship, distractions that rob us of our joy and the fruit that may abound in our lives. Such are the "little foxes that spoil the vines." I have never seen a BIG fox. The biggest fox is still a small creature. But what mischief such a small creature can cause among the vines. They come out at night, unexpected and unnoticed, and gnaw on the vines of the tender plants hindering the flow of sap to the fruit. There are many foxes haunting our vineyards. We could never name them all. Sampson caught three-hundred of them, tied firebrands to their tails and sent them scurrying among the crops of the Philistines. Though we would never be cruel to animals, such treatment, figuratively speaking, we would encourage to such a menaces among the vines. Therefore, let us follow Solomon's advice and "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines". Let us take the little fox of bitterness. He is cruel. Many times he lurks unnoticed in our own hearts. He lurks in families, between husbands and wives; children and parents; and even among those of the noble vine. Paul found him at Philippi. From his prison epistle, he refers to this church as "My joy and crown". Yet, with the next stroke of his pen, he drives the fox from their vine, "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." The epistle arrives from Paul, it is read before the whole church, and two people that Paul loved very much are singled out because the fox of bitterness was gnawing on their vine. Paul didn't side with either party. Taking sides will always benefit the devil. There is only one side: the side of Christ, "be of the same mind in the Lord"; do what Jesus would have you do. That will kill the fox every time. The fox of wrath is an evil creature. He was found in Haman's vineyard. Though Haman was a prosperous man, had many friends and a fine family, this fox robbed him of all of his fruit. Haman must get even with one man that had offended him and was finally hung on his own gallows. Though God may bless us with many graces, the fox of wrath will eat the tender fruit of it: "Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death"-Proverbs 11:4. William Arnot wrote, "A man of great wrath, is a man of little happiness. The two main elements of happiness are wanting; for he is seldom at peace either with his neighbor or himself." We are to pray for our enemies and those that despitefully use us. That will kill that fox every time. There is another little fox that sneaks into our vineyard. The fox of anger. Solomon said, "anger resteth in the bosom of fools". Spurgeon accurately defines anger as "temporary insanity". It arouses the tongue to spew out poisonous venom. A relationship can be destroyed in just a few seconds. This is a mean little fox indeed! Modern psychology will tell you to vent your anger, break things, hit things, whatever feels good, do it. In other words, feed the fox some of your fruit and keep him happy. The Lord knows better how to deal with such foxes. Such anger leads to sorrow and ultimately depression, headaches, ulcers, sleepless nights, fear, withdrawal, and physical problems. Though the emotion of anger is not a sin, how we react to it is the fox. Don't feed him, "take him". Our space is gone and we have many foxes yet to take, still lurking in our vineyards. Paul exposes the most deadly in Ephesians 4:31,32. Here the Apostle encourages us to "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour"-Ephesians 5:2. Walking in love is the shotgun approach to killing foxes. One shot of love and many are "taken". Walking in love is maturity. It is a good feeling to know that the Lord sees our faults and continues to love us. To kill the foxes that haunt our vineyards He calls upon us to do the same and "take the little foxes that spoil the vine." Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor