“Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”
Song of Solomon 2:15
More often than I’d care to admit, I’ve faced a child’s sin head on, only to realize that he or she was modeling my own sinful attitudes and actions. Sound familiar?
If you’re like me, the initial shock of this realization was certainly enough to cause me to block it out and convince myself that I really didn’t see what I thought I saw! But the truth is… children shine a light on what’s going on in our own lives by reflecting and magnifying our subtle sins so that we can no longer ignore what we hadn’t seen in ourselves (or wouldn’t!).
The little foxes that Jerry Bridges calls “respectable sins” aren’t the big offenses we ditched long ago, but rather those understated transgressions which we justify as being acceptable because _________________. (You fill in the blank). We have devised all kinds of reasons to justify these sins. Maybe your reasons sound something like this…
• I’m talking in this tone of voice because no one takes me seriously! The real issue? Anger, feelings of self righteousness, impatience, lack of love – what?! But I love my child! Try reading I Corinthians 13 again this week and think of an irritated tone of voice as you do.
• I snapped at (name of child) because I’ve told him the same thing 20 times… TODAY! What’s actually in my heart? Impatience (along with lack of follow through on consequences.)
You get the idea. But wait… there’s more!
How’s the routine in your home? Chores getting done well and in a timely manner on a regular basis? And what about sibling rivalry?
We’re quick to search out all kinds of ways to organize our home or create better systems to delegate chores and administer consequences. And how many books are stacked by our bedside to teach us how to get our kids to be kind one to another? If we took the time to dig below the surface of our own life, would we find laziness? How about a lack of self discipline? Or perhaps selfishness and pride? Oh, the children are definitely learning! But probably not the lessons we had hoped to instill.
We need to call these socially “acceptable” little foxes what they really are: SIN. Yes, they may be small in comparison to out right lying, stealing, and cheating, but they’re just as ugly and even more insidious.
How so? In the Song of Solomon, the little foxes would run into the vineyard along with the big foxes, but because they couldn’t reach the grapes, they would gnaw at the base of the vine, and over a period of time, the damage would kill the vine itself. This kind of attack was far worse than the initial loss of a few grapes from the bigger foxes!
If we refuse to recognize the little foxes for what they are, we may wake up one day to find they’ve done serious injury to our precious vines. To let them go unchecked is to let them destroy our families. So if we really want to “raise up the next generation” to be godly homemakers, then we need to regularly do some serious introspection and when we find those little foxes, repent!
I’m in this with you, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work! The vineyard is waiting!
(For further reading: Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, by Jerry Bridges, NavPress; 1St Edition edition [August 21, 2007])