I was invited by a member of our church to join the group he meets for breakfast every Tuesday morning. It was his turn to bring the devotional and he was hoping I could be there, so I gladly went. It was amazing. His devotion was half testimony and half devotion as he described his conviction about his affinity for playing the lottery. He referenced Song of Solomon 2:15 and the little foxes that ruin the vineyard and equated it to his efforts to win the jackpot through the lottery. And he made a very profound point.
Most people wouldn’t see buying lottery tickets as a big deal. It’s a little thing and one could argue that it isn’t even sinful. That’s not the point though. The point is holiness. Not a dogged religious holiness that we pursue, but a spirited and lively holiness that comes out of a deep and growing love for God. Holiness is a lost and vague concept. We guard against the big things: adultery, sexual immorality, grand theft, murder or violence. These things are seldom a threat to the one obedient to religion. It’s the little things, those sly and subtle foxes – small and virtually unnoticed by the untrained eye – which destroy the vineyard of God’s delight.
We are a church that is horribly afraid of judgment. We let foxes run amok in God’s vineyard because to question them would be “judgmental” or “legalistic.” This is an assault from the pit of hell. We are called to judge. We are commanded to take the plank out of our own eye so that we can see to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. We are instructed not to judge self-righteously, but to make a right judgment – based on the immutable truth of God’s word, not our own opinion or feeling. We are called to judge with humility, not looking down our nose at the broken, wounded, or lost. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment and if are keeping in step with him, then discernment (judgment) will be a part of our repertoire.
We are also a church horribly afraid of authenticity and accountability. We don’t want to be wrong and so rather than identifying and repenting of issues (little foxes), we cover them up, justify them, or explain them away. We will get violently offended if a brother points them out to us. We embrace compromise and complacency because it is easier on our emotions that a vigorous pursuit of holiness. Not only do we fear making judgments, but we resent being judged. And thus resent holiness. Rather than nurturing a beautiful vineyard which produces lush fruit and provides God joy and delight, we maintain a haunt for foxes…and eventually jackals. What begins as a little fox problem will end up a barren wasteland – an apostacy which feeds anti-Christian sentiment and cripples the witness of the church.
What is lurking in your corner of God’s vineyard? Are you a good tenant of this lush garden, tending, pruning, and chasing out the little foxes; or is your stake falling into disrepair? Maybe it’s time for a little fox hunt…”View halloo!!”