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A Word to Women

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.”
(Song of Solomon 2:15)

Vineyards are not a common sight in the British Isles. Last summer we visited the palm house in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, and there we saw a beautiful vine laden with grapes. In warmer climes, such as Israel, vineyards flourish. The vine is a climbing plant, needing support to grow and careful attention to keep it healthy. Carefully nourished and cared for, it yields a harvest of luscious grapes. In the Bible we read of the vineyard being walled or hedged (Matthew 21:33, Isaiah 5:5), for protection.

In Proverbs 24:30,31 the vineyard of the slothful man, devoid of understanding, is depicted as overgrown with thorns and nettles and having the stone wall broken down. Neglect results in decay and a scanty harvest. And in the Song of Solomon the bride complains of the little foxes spoiling the vines. They do not just eat the fruit but they play together among the vines and destroy as much as they devour. Their sharp teeth damage the vine stems and reduce the yield. Their cute appearance belies the damage they can do.

As Christians we need to pay careful attention to little things. Sin is a little word but it is not a small matter. We would be aghast if someone asked us to steal or murder but if asked to turn a blind eye to ‘lesser’ wrongdoing, we are tempted to comply. Few criminals started their delinquent life by robbing a bank. Few drug addicts thought when taking their first legal high that they would be reduced to misery. We need a right view of sin.  Like the little foxes, little sins are obnoxious in God’s sight, and will impair the work of the Spirit in our lives.

None of us is perfect. This should not be used as an excuse for sin. The old adage is, “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”. Likewise if we guard against little sins then we will protect ourselves against greater sins.

What sins might be viewed as little sins? Eve thought that the forbidden fruit looked good, would be good for food, and bring wisdom (Genesis 3:6). In reality it brought fear, shame, misery, suffering and ultimately death. Peter followed the Lord Jesus afar off. Such negligence led him to deny knowing the Lord Jesus, even using oaths and curses in his repeated denial. Rome categorises sin as venial or mortal. The Bible makes no such distinction, all sin is mortal, for unforgiven it will damn the soul in hell. Had there only been ‘little sins’, it still would have taken the blood of God’s perfect Son to cleanse them.

It is not good to be constantly introspective, but sometimes it is good to take a long hard look at our lives. The world we live in has no regard for God’s laws and we are easily influenced by its attitude. Have we let our standards slip? Are we tolerating ‘little sins’?  Take David’s warning, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18) Take encouragement from David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”(Psalm 51:10) Let go of petty grievances, selfishness, and attempts to remove motes from the eyes of others. Failure to recognise the beam in our own eye will allow the little foxes to flourish to our spiritual detriment. When we fall, remember, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

Olive Maxwell.