I recently called myself to a meeting for an audit of my life in the areas of personal development, career growth, parenting, entrepreneurship, investment, body health and spiritual growth. I concluded that while I was making good progress in some areas, I was not doing so well in others. And I realised that growth has been hindered by a few unresolved issues that have piled up.
The Bible says in Song of Solomon 2: “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” When issues are left unattended they can and will hinder growth in any area of our lives. We can call these issues little foxes, and they can include anything from a bad attitude, unforgiveness, idolatry, fear and selfishness to impatience, greed, deception and jealousy. Vines may include ministry, marriage, the workplace, parenting and social settings.
Although the little foxes are little, they can and will do great mischief. They spoil the vines (success), especially when the vines are still tender grapes that must be well-looked-after.
So, wondering how to know if you are infected by little foxes? Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Is your judgement corrupted? Has your conscience been led astray often? Are you discouraged from virtue and piety? If the answer to these questions is yes, well, you have some work to do.
For believers, our sinful appetites and passions can be the foxes that destroy our peace and grace, quash good progress or good beginnings, and inhibit our goals from developing to perfection. Let us then do away with anything we find a hindrance to achieving what is good. This includes any unattended issues that have taken residence in our hearts.
The heart is the dwelling of our emotional interaction and intelligence. We are urged to guard it with all that we have because everything we do flows from it. Our actions, reactions and opinions are influenced by our hearts. It is therefore important for each one of us to identify and deal with the little foxes that affect the state of our hearts. Left unattended, they breed over time and develop into vicious wolves that short-circuit our goals.
These foxes develop in various ways. For instance, my sanguine personality can be an excuse for sudden outbursts of anger. Negative peer pressure, which equates to bad company corrupting good morals, can spoil relationships. Social culture and customs influence our upbringing and ultimately affect our behaviour.
One practical lesson I have learnt lately is dealing with unresolved issues in the courtship arena. Unless past and present issues are dealt with, they will affect how two people relate with each other in marriage. As we pack our suitcases to move in together and start a family, both of us need to be careful about what we include in our luggage. If we pack some little foxes in our suitcases, the notion of a happy-ever-after life will be far-fetched.
Both partners in a relationship will need an honest audit of any little foxes in their lives as they lay the marriage foundation. To begin with, they must identify these little foxes. This means courageously admitting any shortcomings. Secondly, there must be an honest desire to change.
Thirdly, honest discussions with accountability partners are needed while being careful not to offend or take offence. Without counsel, plans fail; but with many advisors they succeed. Do not attempt to walk this journey alone.
Fourth, spiritual growth has a way of transforming even the most hopeless of situations. No one is too far fallen to be redeemed. Through an intimate walk with God, dealing with little foxes becomes possible. Remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)”.
This year, I have purposed to make significant steps in doing away with issues that have kept my vineyards from achieving a full bloom. Young or old, with God’s help, let us deal with our little foxes – to stop them from doing further mischief.