“Catch the foxes, the little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom.” Song of Solomon 2:15 (GNT).
Every action begins with a thought. The question is what we do with this thought. Just like the innocent-looking little foxes who sneak in and destroy the vineyards, sinful thoughts can suddenly come up out of nowhere and try to destroy our hearts and minds. Jealousy, bitterness, anger, suspicion - thoughts like these come very naturally to us, but the truth is that they are evil – they are sin. (Galatians 5:19-21.) Therefore we have to be awake and catch them as soon as they come into our minds, as soon as we see them in ourselves.
I want to do the good but …
But aren’t we supposed to be Christians? Shouldn’t we all just do good and have pure thoughts all the time? After all, we want to be constantly good, right?
Paul answers this clearly in Romans 7:18-20 (NIRV): “I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can't. I don't do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don't want to do. I do what I don't want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me.”
There is something called sin that lives in us! This sounds terrible; but it was the same for Jesus, He also had sin living in His nature. He was tempted in everything just like us, but He never gave in to sin. (Hebrews 4:15-16.) And we are to follow Jesus.
So when we are tempted to get angry, for example when someone doesn’t agree with us, we need to be awake so that we see the temptation and then say No to the sin we are tempted to. Then we are following Jesus. Then we don’t become angry and offended. Then we are “catching the little foxes” and destroying them, and our hearts and minds stay pure.
We need to be awake
To do this we need to go to God and ask Him for help to overcome those sinful thoughts and temptations. Paul also tells us in Ephesians 4:17, “In the Lord's name, then, I warn you: do not continue to live like the heathen, whose thoughts are worthless.”
If an impure thought comes up, this doesn’t make us impure, just like the little foxes trying to come into the vineyard do not get a chance to destroy the grapes if we catch them in time. But if we want to keep thinking those impure thoughts, or give in to those sinful desires, then, and only then, do we become impure. We therefore always need to be awake and watchful so that we can capture every thought before it has a chance to grow into sin. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18.)
In this way we can be a blessing to those around us. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in victory through Christ. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NCV).
Praise God that it’s possible to live such a life, to be well-pleasing to Him who has called us and chosen us from before the world was created.