Spoiling Our Witness
Robert Wurtz II
Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes. (Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV)
Our passage is an allegory dealing with the love between individuals that is always in danger of being spoiled. Vines are the place where fruitfulness “happens” and this is where the “little foxes” do damage. Their destructiveness is predictable and preventable. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived second to the Lord Jesus, makes use of them figuratively to demonstrate why vines that ought to yield fruit are yielding failure.
In the Greek Old Testament (LXX), the word spoiled is aphanizontas and it is translated as “disfigure” (their faces) in Matthew 6:16; “corrupt” (moth and rust doth…) in Matthew 6:19; “Perish” in Acts 13:41; and “vanish away” in James 4:14. This is the semantic range of the word… it means anything from disfigure to vanishing away all together. In other words, from damage to total loss.
What are the “little foxes” that cause failure at the vines? Understand that we are destined, as the saints of God, to bring forth fruit unto God. Just as God told Adam in the Garden of Eden to be fruitful and multiply — so too Jesus (the Last Adam) told the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV). This is God’s will. This is our job. The enemy knows this and is working relentlessly to hinder or stall this process completely. How does he do it?
Fruit Carries the Seed
In Genesis God ordained that all trees should bring forth fruit after their own kind. In fact, the fruit carries the seed of the next generation of trees. If we carry this thought into the kingdom of God, we can understand the relationship between the fruit of the Spirit and the ministry of the word of God. If a Christians’ fruit has been “spoiled” the seed of God’s word is hindered. Think about it. Have you ever met a Christian who talked about Jesus and yet their behavior spoiled their testimony? I have seen it several times in the workplace. One minute they try to witness to someone and a few days later they attack the person in some way. We have all probably observed this and were very saddened. In the business world a salesman would never attack their customer. They have more sense than that. That would be a good way to lose a client. However, Jesus said… “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8b KJV) They treat their prospects with courtesy and kindness. Nevertheless, some Christians understand these things when it comes to losing a sale... but not when it comes to losing a soul.
Some professing Christians are like “little foxes.” Satan makes use of them to damage and disfigure the testimony of Christianity and the Church. Their bad behaviors and attitudes get ignored or excused until it’s too late and the damage is done. The “little foxes” spoil the vines (souls of people) before they have a chance to be fruitful; or they destroy the “tender grapes” that are starting to grow on the vine. If he can’t nip these people in the bud he will destroy them while they are tender. We must be aware of this strategy and be quick to deal with “little foxes” when they rear their destructive heads.
As a child my father planted a fruit and vegetable garden every spring. Although he never planted grapes, he planted many things that grew on vines; watermelons, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. He knew these plants were always subject to danger so he took steps to protect them. The garden was set up as a sanctuary of sorts where fruits and vegetables could thrive. It was common knowledge that people and animals were to keep out. Children were not allowed to play football or baseball near the gardens lest they trample through the vines recovering their stray balls. Why? Recklessness has no place in a vineyard or a garden. Plants have tender vines and they must be protected. Likewise, people who are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ must be protected within the churches.
Catch us the foxes, The little foxes, says the scripture. Notice the admonition, “Catch!” This implies great diligence. Solomon was writing about a marital relationship. In the same figure the New Covenant is a marriage contract. People come into relationship with Jesus Christ by covenant to become members of the Bride of Christ. Anything or anyone who obstructs or endangers this process must be “caught” and dealt with. Anything or any person that is putting souls at risk must be swiftly dealt with no matter what or who they are. This is one area where we cannot afford to “overlook” destructive behavior.
In modern times churches go to great lengths to protect children from sexual abuse because of all the scandals that have happened in the Catholic church. They run background checks on the workers; set up special “safe” areas where only authorized persons can be; etc. Yet some of these churches will overlook a mean-spirited person and allow them to teach and handle children. There are many wonderful teachers who have been faithful to do God’s work over the years; however, the time would fail to list all the times that I have personally known of so-called Christian workers to offend children. These offenders destroy the works of those who were faithful. What happens? The offended child grows up angry at the church and you never see them again. It is a hard saying, but while they were yet young and tender, people who had no business working with children offended them and destroyed them “on the vine.” They should have been “caught” and dealt with. Sadly, they never were.
Kids will be kids. If a person has a bad spirit they have no business being involved in ministry. They need to be sat down and dealt with so that God can bring them to repentance. God doesn’t care what their title is or what their name is. Did God really mean that we ought not to please ourselves? Indeed He did. Was Solomon right when he told us that foxes were destroying the vines? Indeed he was. Did he tell us to catch and deal with them? Indeed he did. This means that we are watchful for things that are trying to spoil God’s work. Things that are offending people unnecessarily and destroying their relationship with God. Again, we read, Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes. Recognize and mark the people who tend to act mean to children and old people. Deal with them.