After the Sunday sermon on Song of Solomon 2:15, I’ve found myself thinking about what Khaleef said about the difference between “struggling with” sin versus merely “coddling” sin. According to Merriam-Webster, to “struggle” means either “to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition” or “to proceed with difficulty or with great effort.” Truly, if we “struggle” with sin, then we are working hard to avoid and overcome it. However, to “coddle” means to “treat with extreme or excessive care or kindness” and is similar to the word “pamper.” If we “coddle” our sins, then we are not really treating them as the ruinous enemies that they are. We apply no great effort to rid ourselves of their influence, rather we cover, protect, and cherish them to our own harm.
As Khaleef brought out on Sunday, the metaphor of little foxes is poignant in illustrating our relationship with sin. Little foxes may not seem like much trouble; they look harmless, even friendly and cute. But there is no mistaking their ultimate effect: they ruin the vineyards, even when those vineyards have just entered their time of peak beauty and blossom. Now, real-life foxes are mainly a problem for those with poultry and small livestock as the foxes make opportunistic attacks. But spiritual foxes are a problem for everyone. These little foxes of sin ruin—destroy, corrupt, pollute—the joy-giving vineyards of one’s Christian walk, one’s marriage, or one’s church. These foxes are not cute but need to be given no quarter; they must be caught and destroyed with all diligence.
But to do what is necessary to preserve and enjoy our vineyards, we really need eyes of faith to see past what only looks or feels true. We must see sin for what it really is: a pleasant looking trap designed to enslave and destroy (Jn 8:34; Rm 6:16; cf. Prov 5:3-6). We must see Satan, his minions, and his missionaries for what they really are: not holy and caring friends but deceivers and murderers (Jn 8:44; 2 Cor 11:12-15; Prov 27:6). And we must see God for who he really is: not the miserly, aloof cosmic kill-joy, but the holy God of all love and generous giver of all good gifts (1 Jn 1:5; 4:8; James 1:17). We essentially face the same choice in the gardens of our lives as Adam and Eve faced in the first garden: believe God and take hold of the good he has promised both now and forever or believe Satan to seek out our own good now via sin and inherit death (Gen 2:15-17; 3:1-7). If we want to know and experience true life, then, we must learn to go against flesh-driven feelings and deny ourselves the temporary comfort of sin for the greater joy of knowing Christ.
In the end, our vineyards are not ours to leave to be ruined as fox dens. Our vineyards were given to us by God to tend and enjoy, and he will hold us accountable for what we do with them (cf. Mt 21:33-46; 1 Tim 6:17-19; Eccl 11:9-10). What a good command of God via Solomon it is, then, that we catch the little foxes that would otherwise ruin our vineyards and spoil our portion of holy enjoyment!
Song of Solomon 2:15,
“Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”
Questions to Consider:
1. The Puritan John Owen famously wrote, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” Which reality is more evident in your life?
2. Practically speaking, what would truly struggling against your sin instead of coddling it look like in your life?
3. Do you believe that God’s waiting reward for righteousness is better than the comfort of immediate indulgence (cf. Heb 11:6)? Why or why not?