By Scott G MacLeod
Song of Solomon 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines…
Gen.43:11 …and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey…
Why is it that we overlook the little things that can have a positive or negative effect? When we want to so something for God we think it has to be something really big or it will not count. Why in our daily Christian life do we think that sin some how can be little and will not have an effect on me? The words of Solomon tells us that the “little foxes”, yes, the cute little foxes have a cunning nature to destroy and can cause a great deal of trouble! May God help us to be aware of sin in our lives and judge it quickly.
Sometimes when we see or hear of someone who has fallen into sin or has been read out of the fellowship, we wonder “what did that person do?” or you might hear “if it wasn’t for the grace of God there go I”.
Let’s take the first statement and instead of asking, “what did they do”, ask yourself, “what did and didn’t I do?” Did I try to hinder or help their leaving by my words or actions? In God’s assembly are we not a family? Are we not responsible, obligated to help one another?
Let’s take the second statement and notice that when I may say this, it sounds as though I am blaming God for the person’s fall! Think of the statement, “if it wasn’t for the grace of God” are we trying to infer that God removed His grace and therefore the person fell? Are we also saying that it is God’s grace that keeps me from sinning? We need to keep the story of Gen.3 in our minds, in doing so it will help us to understand where this “blame it on someone else” attitude comes from. The fruit of the tree has been eaten and Adam and Eve are now standing before God. Adam is questioned as to why he partook of the fruit and we listen carefully to his respond, “And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Gen.3:12. “Thou gavest me”, did you caught that? Can we not hear the wheels of Adam’s mind working, “If You had not given me this woman, than I would not have sinned”. We are real good at blaming others when we sin, we will blame the brethren, the flesh our upbring or anything else but ME. My dear reader, we need to understand that when we fall into sin, there is no one to blame but ourselves, my lack of not saying no has opened the door for desire to meet with opportunity. Lets turn to the scriptures and see how Paul addresses this situation.
Always keep in mind, that in scripture there is a wonderful balancing of truth, consider these two verses.
1 Cor.9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Rom.8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Notice the perfect balance of scripture, Paul’s side and the Spirit’s side. The word of God clearly teaches that a victorious christian life can be summed up in one sentence, co-operation with the Spirit of God. Think of the words of Daniel, “…proposed in his heart…” and think of the words of Joshua, “…as for me and my house we will serve…” the Spirit loves to work these attitudes. It’s a wonderful thing when we allow the Spirit of God to do His work! Our stubborn wills can in a split second remove us from the grace of God, when that happens and I fall, I have no one to blame but me. So as we proceed farther into this article, keep in mind that God does not make me spiritual, God will help me to be spiritual when I desire to be.
Have you ever wondered how does someone get away from the Lord? Where does it all begin? Does it happen over night? One reason that we tend to think that departure from the Lord happens so to speak, over night, is due to the fact, that we lose sight of how small sin starts and the fact that we have within us a wicked nature that hates anything that is of God! That is why Paul in 1Cor.9:27 says, “I keep under my body”, or I beat my body black and blue is really the thought. Is Paul talking about physically beating his body? No, he is referring to the spiritual or the mind battle against the wicked flesh that dwells within. Basically, Paul watches carefully his thoughts, desires, etc and keeps them under control, he will not be controlled by them. But keep in mind his attitude, he knew that he needed the Spirit’s help in doing this, Rom.8:13. The Spirit can only help me when my spirit first is willing to judge my own thoughts, desires, etc. Lets consider a couple of verses from Matt.18 for a few thoughts.
Matt.18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
The word “despise” simply means ‘to think down upon’. How is our thought life when it comes to other believers? Do we “esteem others better than ourselves”? Phil.2:3. The varies thoughts that go through our minds in the run of a day concerning others can be divided into three groups, (1) good, (2) neutral or (3) bad. Lets think of an example, someone might say to you, “I noticed that so and so was at the meeting on Sunday”. So far this sentence is informative and would fall into the category of good/neutral. Now lets add this expression to that sentence, “and did you see what they were wearing”, this statement has now turned the whole thought process of the persons involved to the negative category of bad. What are the chances the conversation will be positive after this? Right here is where these thoughts should be judged and confessed as sin to God. SIN HAS STARTED WITH THE SMALLEST THOUGHT!
Lets consider another verse:
Matt.18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
The word “offend” simply means ‘to stumble’. The quickest way I know to stumble someone is with my words. If someone were to listen, and someone is, to my words about others in the run of a day, what would they hear? Notice that Christ is comparing the little children to believers here. Why? We tend to look at children differently, we see them as being tender, not able to bear as much and easier to draw our emotions out as compared to adults. Have I as a believer realized how precious believers are to God? Notice God’s thoughts about someone who has no problem talking down others, “…it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Do you think God is over reacting here? Right here is where these words should be judged and confessed as sin to God. SIN HAS STARTED WITH THE SMALLEST WORD!
This is were the process starts in getting away from God, it is not the big events in our lives that causes the landslide to happen, it is the little things that go unjudged which puts us in a position that makes us unable to handle the bigger issues. We need as believers to be on guard as to what we allow our minds and mouths to think and say. Do we understand that when we see someone who is going through a difficult time and we start to think and talk negatively about them we are not able to help them. Notice the context of these verses in relation to the 100 sheep of verse 12. The shepherd has 100 sheep and only one leaves, why make a fuss about one sheep, he has 99 more to look after. How many christians are in your assembly? Would it matter if only one left? It is impossible to help someone that I am bitter against. Someone may say that that is petty strong language, negative thoughts and words will lead to bitterness. Sin, no matter how small it is, is still too big for me to handle! But we can thank God that we do not have to end on such a negative note, look at the words of Matt.10.
Matt.10:42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
When we with God’s help want to do something for the other believers, it do not have to be something big. IT’S THE SMALLEST DEEDS that will receive blessing!