Take Heed to the Small Foxes

Our Fast-Paced Society

Sitting around on an old kitchen floor while Dad made pancakes for breakfast is a boyhood memory that I will always cherish. We were poor, and our family could only afford a wood-burning stove made of concrete and overlaid with clay. Crude as it may sound, our ‘fireside’, as we called it, seemed to add extra flavour to the world’s most delicious pancakes.

Then came the days of advancement when we bought our first kerosene-burning stove. Although it took forever to brew a pot of tea, our spotted grey and white enamel appliance was a sure sign of progress.

Since then, we have witnessed the arrival of many time-saving scientific inventions, too numerous to mention. From the extremely slow kerosene stove, we have now advanced to the popular microwave oven. With saving time as the primary focus for many inventors, the consumer has witnessed an endless production of household devices, appliances, and electronic gadgets. Ironically, these have not solved our problem of limited time but have contributed to the fast pace of our society. Be it fast food, rapid communication, or supersonic travel, our continuous involvement in this fast paced world has resulted in a lifestyle brimming with impatience.

Instant Gratification vs. Patience

As I see it, we are a pampered society that relies heavily on having our needs met instantly. This attitude has almost eliminated the development of patience in our lives and has produced a ‘quick-fix’ and ‘instant gratification’ generation.

Is it not amazing how the routine activities of life can affect our attitudes and eventually mould our temperaments? It has been correctly stated that when we live with the lame, we will learn to limp. The constant exposure to a thought pattern or a custom will ultimately encourage acceptance to the extent that, if one is not careful, one’s personal convictions may be gradually undermined and replaced.

Tragically, this spirit of a fast-changing world has infiltrated the Church and affected the lives of many of God’s children. As a result, the patience that is required in the normal development of Christian character is rapidly becoming dormant. Life in the fast lane has had such a negative effect on our natural instincts that we find it unnecessary to even ‘stop and smell the roses’.

Without realizing it, the spiritual responsibilities of the child of God are compromised and neglected as a result of our overindulgence in the natural trends of life.

Although there are many profitable things that can be achieved instantly, there are others of greater importance, that require time, persistence, patience, and effort. A few good examples to support this concept are growth, education, maturity, and character development. Also, it is necessary to understand that although time and effort may be saved in many of our natural activities, we should never adopt the same strategy in our service to God. When it comes to prayer, worship, meditation, and other spiritual responsibilities, haste must be abandoned and patience utilized. That which pertains to God must never be rushed.

Scripture tells us that, “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31), and that we should “run with patience the race that is set before us…” (Heb. 12:1b). To be able to “endure to the end” (Mt. 24:13), we must “by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honour [and] immortality…” (Rom. 2:7).

As Christians, it is important for us to remember that God should hold priority in our lives. No matter how busy our daily schedules are, adequate time must be set aside for our spiritual needs. Whether it be prayer or a church service, we will receive greater benefit by slowing down and giving quality time to God . The carnal activities of a fast paced life should never infringe on our spiritual commitments. Nothing should hold priority or detract from our discipleship.

The proper use of our time is a necessary element to our Christian life. We are called into a life of dedication and sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus said, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24).

The Christians in Rome were admonished to present their bodies as “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God…” They were told not to conform to the principles of this world, but rather to be transformed (change of character) by the renewing of their minds. (Rom. 12:1-2).

With the understanding that “we are not of this world”, it becomes necessary for us to be careful that we are not overpowered by its spirit (thought pattern). Our lives should reflect the principles of God’s word, not those of society. Salvation becomes a progressive work of the Holy Ghost that gradually changes us from an old carnal person into a new spiritual one.

Progressive Conversion

The conversion of a sinner, as described in scripture, is intended to initiate a change of lifestyle. This process involves repentance, forgiveness of sins, acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and the commencement of a progressive change. In simple terms, to convert means to change from one condition to another. It is important to fully comprehend what one is being changed from and what one is intended to become. From the Christian perspective, the convert’s life is transformed from a sinful and worldly nature into a life of holiness. This process is not instantaneous, but involves the workings of the Church, the Ministry, the Word of God, and the Holy Ghost. As the Apostle Paul puts it, “But we all…are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18).

To warn against the fallen nature, Paul admonished the Ephesians to put off the “old man”, which used the deceitful lusts of this world to manipulate their former lifestyle, and then “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24).

We are to “put off” anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication which are all deeds of our carnal nature (old man), and “put on the new man” which is synonymous with the nature of Christ. This is manifested in holiness, mercy, kindness, humility, and everything else portraying the life of our Lord Jesus. (Col. 3:5-14).

Our conversion, which is a deep inward work of the Holy Ghost, should, in no way, lessen our responsibility to live as Christians. We are to avoid everything that would add to or enhance the corruption of our depraved nature and maintain God in “whatsoever” we do. (Col. 3:16-17). To sum it up, we cannot be passive in our efforts to live godly lives.

Small Foxes

Because we have not yet attained to the measure of the fullness of Christ, we cannot take for granted life, as it exists around us. It is said that ‘practice makes permanent’. With this in mind, we must “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise…because the days are evil”. (Eph. 5:15-16). It is our responsibility to ensure that our everyday lifestyle does not undermine our relationship with God.

We live in an age where evil and darkness are no longer manifested in ‘black and white’ but have evolved into many attractive shades of grey. Be it fashion, sports, entertainment, education, religion, or any other trend in society, there is always a subtle touch to Satanic deception. Although the world around us and all it has to offer may naturally appear beautiful, God’s word describes its function as that of darkness. Satan, the god of this world, has so blinded man’s mind that almost every activity in society is tainted with varying degrees of darkness. (2 Cor. 4:3-4). We should never overlook the fact that the mind of the ungodly inventor or designer will obviously cater to man’s carnal drives. The subtlety of deception is that it mingles an adequate amount of evil with that which is harmless in order to lay a snare for the simple mind.

In his wisdom, Solomon suggested that we be careful of, and watch out for, the “small foxes”. For being hard to detect, they will have greater opportunity to “spoil the vines”. (Songs of Solomon 2:15). Sometimes the seemingly innocent activities in society that we tend to overlook can turn out to be the basis for our ultimate downfall. We should be careful to remain on the foundation on which we were planted. Remember, all that is required for one to drift is for one to do nothing.

The example of Lot should not be overlooked or taken for granted. He saw no danger in pitching his tent towards Sodom, but before long he was an integral part of the city. (Gen. 13:12). His daily exposure to the ungodly lifestyle of the Sodomites “vexed his spirit” and fostered an accommodating attitude towards sin. (2 Pt. 2:7). Lot tolerated what God hated to the extent that he called the perverts of Sodom and Gomorrah “brethren”. (Gen 19:7-8). He lost his ability to make spiritual judgment and violated the very fabric of parenthood by offering his virgin daughters to the queer mob at his door.

Let us be careful that our daily association with the ungodly systems of this world never affects us as it did Lot. We are children of light, not only in theory, but in the reality of our lifestyle. We are to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom…ye shine as lights…” (Phil. 2:15).

In his letter to Ephesus, Paul admonished the saints to “awake” out of their spiritual slumber. He then advised them to walk circumspectly because of the evil that existed around them. We too must awake to the craftiness of spiritual darkness and be extremely cautious of the activities we engage in.

To contaminate and hinder our spiritual growth, Satan may not necessarily tempt us with blatant sins, but, may instead, utilize a less obvious approach. He will not flaunt himself before us dressed in a red devil’s outfit but will sneak into our vineyard as a little fox. It may be a video game with just a small amount of violence, or perhaps a movie with just a few profanities. Maybe he will disrupt your modesty by enticing you with clothes that only slightly expose your nakedness. Be it dress, entertainment, or general association with the world, a ‘small fox’ cannot be overlooked, for this seemingly insignificant visitor will eventually take up residence in your life.

Being able to discern between good and evil will assist us to walk in the spirit. (Heb. 5:14, Rom. 8:1-7, Gal. 5:16).

May the Lord give us wisdom to recognize and avoid the small foxes in our present day. May we, the children of light, be given the grace to recognize every intrusion of darkness in our pathway. May Christ become our main focus and example in life.

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…” (Eph. 5:8).