Summary: When a church begins to grow, it’s the little things that sabbotage it.
CATCH US THE LITTLE FOXES
I can tell you right now, there are those who are not present tonight who NEED to hear this message. As you hear it, God may lay someone on your heart. Get this tape, and give it to him, or her. It’s CRUCIAL that this word gets into the ears of some.
There are two books of the Bible that are preached less than the rest. Coming in at #2 is Revelation. Many preachers don’t understand it, so they don’t preach it. But probably #1 is the Song of Solomon. Just the mention of it makes most in the religious sect begin to blush, and shy away. It records the love affair of King Solomon with the Shunamite Maiden. It’s a romance that would make WalMart’s cheesy romance novel section GREEN with envy.
But in the midst of it, there is a strange verse; a verse that demands a glimpse tonight. It’s odd, and seemingly irrelevant. Yet it teaches a very important principle of excellence in church ministry.
If a church is seen as healthy, it’s described as growing. There are many expressions of God’s people, Israel, the church, where we are described in reference to plants,or trees. In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the Vine and describes us as the branches.
He describes Israel as a fig tree. God describes the RIGHTEOUS PERSON as a TREE OF LIFE in Psalm 1. Growing plants, such as vines seem to typify God’s people, and their growth is indicative of our growth.
15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
Reading it again in the NIV…
15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
I. I think first, that it’s notable to mention that word TAKE…
The Hebrew Word for “TAKE” is Achaz (aw-khaz’). It literally means, “to seize” or to lay hold of. He’s telling us in this, GET A HOLD on the LITTLE FOXES. SEIZE THEM. CATCH THEM BEFORE THEY CAN DAMAGE THE HARVEST that GOD INTENDS TO SEND. SEIZE THEM, BECAUSE THEY CAN RUIN a vineyard.
If this scripture tells us anything, it tells us that when something is ALIVE and GROWING, that there ARE dangers to that growth.
There are FOXES. What are those FOXES? The FOXES can be ATTITUDES. The FOXES, more likely, can be the TRICKS of the enemy to hinder growth. And the Enemy of our soul DOES send forth FOXES to hinder growth.
As soon as things begin to go forward, the enemy sends out the FOXES. One thing that PROVES things are going well – THE FOXES COME IN. One thing that proves that God is blessing; the arrival of little foxes.
Sometimes they are little squabbles within the body; little problems that arise between members. Sometimes, it’s the imaginary issues. “So-and-so just doesn’t like me.” “She didn’t even talk to me Sunday…” Maybe she just had a bad day. A lot of times, the problems we perceive are just imaginary; things we come up with on our own. You may think Sister Lunabelle is mad at you, and she might be CLUELESS as to WHAT’S going on.
We have to put up our defenses against the FOXES, NOW. Prepare ourselves. Things are going well in Elton Woods right now. God is doing great things. I’ve begun to see the tender grapes, appearing on the vine again. And as sure as the tender shoots spring forth… as sure as the blossoms appear… as sure as developing grapes burst out into a cluster, FOXES APPEAR.
We’re serving a loving God, who sends the growth. But we’re fighting a treacherous devil, who is determined to keep us from being fruitful. He’s sending out the foxes. And make no mistake, the foxes will come. But look what the passage says about the FOXES. Verse 15 calls them LITTLE FOXES.
The passage says, “Take us the foxes, the LITTLE foxes…” Most of the things that RUIN vineyards, are LITTLE THINGS. Most of the things that split churches are LITTLE THINGS. More churches have split over CARPET, and SHRUBRY. I’ve heard of churches splitting over moving a piano. God help us; the LITTLE FOXES.
It’s like the vine is out of control, it’s growing in a way that the enemy can’t do one thing about. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will NOT prevail against it.” And the vine strengthens the branches – and the branches bring forth bud. The enemy knows that he can’t chop down the vine. The vine is the source of the growth. So he sends in a fox to hit on the NEW GROWTH. The vineyards that are influenced are the vineyards with the TENDER GRAPES; the vineyards that are in bloom.