“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon 2:15.
Every action begins with a thought. The question is what we do with it; how we deal with it. Just like the innocent-looking little foxes who sneak in and spoil the vineyards, thoughts and reactions can appear suddenly out of nowhere and try to spoil our hearts and minds. Envy, bitterness, anger, greed. Thoughts like this come quite naturally to us, but the truth is that they are evil – they are sin. (Galatians 5:19-21) The key is to be awake and catch them as soon as they come into our consciousness.
To will is present with me …
But wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be Christians? Shouldn’t we all just have good and pure thoughts and deeds all the time? After all, we want to be always good, right?
Paul answers this clearly in Romans 7:18-20, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
There is something called sin that dwells in us! This sounds terrible, but knowing this is the key to following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without giving in to sin. (Hebrews 4:15-16) Therefore when we are tempted, to react with bitterness, for example, when someone doesn’t agree with us, we need to be awake to see the temptation and deny the sin that wants to manifest itself, and rather take up our cross and follow Jesus. Then we don’t become bitter and offended. Then we are “catching the little foxes” and destroying them, and our hearts and minds are preserved in purity.
We need to be awake
We do this by going boldly to the throne of grace so we obtain mercy and find the grace we need to overcome those sinful thoughts and temptations. Paul also exhorts us in Ephesians 4:17, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.”
To have an impure thought enter our minds doesn’t make us impure, just like the little foxes trying to come into the vineyard do not get a chance to spoil the grapes. But if we dwell on those impure thoughts, or give in to those evil desires, then, and only then, have we become impure or defiled. Therefore, we need to be awake and watchful at all time, so we can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ before it has a chance to develop into sin. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18)
In this way we can give off an ever-increasing sweet-smelling fragrance wherever we go and be a blessing to those around us.
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14.
Praise God that it’s possible to live such a life, to be well-pleasing to Him who has called us and chosen us from before the foundation of the world.