Here is the conclusion of The Cherishing Ministry of Jesus from Unpacking God by Kathryne Leach. M.A. Enjoy! Let me know your thoughts.
Do you desire a deeper level of intimacy with your Bridegroom King Jesus? Then implement the advice of Song of Songs 2:15 – you must catch the troubling foxes that spoil the vine …
You must catch the troubling foxes,
Those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship.
For they raid our budding vineyard of love
To ruin what I’ve planted within you.
Will you catch them and remove them for me?
We will do it together (TPT).
In every love relationship, there will be things that hinder love. They can be habits or words that spoil the freshness of our love. My mate has an annoying little habit that surfaces as we are seated side by side in our matching leather recliners watching television. Not something I wish to immortalize in print but it is a small personal habit he does in the privacy of his castle. I can choose to overlook it out of love or he can stop doing it, but he is not showing signs of ceasing. I choose to cover it (Proverbs 17:9, 1 Peter 4:8). The foxes referred to here are little sins that hinder our love relationship with Jesus, things that God may have allowed us to engage in years before. In this season of your relationship, He is addressing them, requiring our maturity in order to advance by addressing areas of spiritual compromise.
As Dr. Brian Simmons aptly states, Holy Spirit is not addressing the “lions of rebellion, but the subtle areas that seem so minor yet capable of wounding our love for Him. There are no little sins to God.” I love that it becomes a joint project between Holy Spirit and me. I’m not left on my own to uproot ingrained behaviors. He is there beside me, strengthening me with His virtues, shining His floodlight on the path ahead so I know where to step and when I am slipping. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV).
Foxes come out at night mostly, so we should pay attention to times we are hungry or tired for weakness is their playground. The night here symbolizes that foxes are hidden areas in our lives. We can slide through an entire lifetime in church, work or school without having to address these heart issues, but they are still manifesting. If ignored, these little foxes will destroy the budding vines of new virtue growing within us. It is satan’s task to kill, steal and destroy the life of God within us, but if he can get us to pull up our own fruit, all the better.
We all have little areas of sin that impinge on our fruitfulness, blind spots we cannot see. We need the help of the Spirit to reveal these compromising behaviors, ideas or thoughts to us so we can deal with them. I have found the more I readily address minor issues with the Lord, the more sensitive my heart becomes. This is how holiness is perfected within us (therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God, 2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV).
Remember that foxes are cunning and crafty animals, and so is your flesh life. “We catch the lions and bears but oftentimes miss the foxes” (Brian Simmons, The Sacred Journey, p. 95). The Bible tells us what these little fox compromises are, but I’ll lay some out here: pride, slander, gossip, anger, cursing, cursing in jest, wasting time, worldly thinking, speaking too quickly, defending ourselves, being touchy or critical toward others, acting negative and complaining frequently, grumbling, impatience, neglect of prayer, exaggeration with the aim of self-promotion and an independent spirit.
When catching compromise foxes becomes a way of life, the garden of our inner life is tended and beautiful. Our virtues blossom readily under pressure without weeds choking them. We are His guarded garden (a garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, Song of Solomon 4:12), the place His Spirit dwells, finding refreshment in us and providing refreshment to us. This is our priceless heritage – being His guarded garden! “My darling bride, my private paradise, fastened to my heart, you are a secret spring that no one else can have – my bubbling fountain hidden from public view. What a perfect partner to me now that I have you,” (SOS 4:12 TPT).
My ultimate spiritual goal is to be His secret spring, King Jesus holding the sole key to my innermost being. It will take a lifetime of cultivation to present my heart as His enclosed Eden with a gate locked to the world, but He is worth the sacrifice. The enemy will come to try to muddy the waters of our thoughts and imaginations but we must bathe in the water of His Word to remain fresh, clean and pure before Him. I want to become His garden of delight, with secret springs and bubbling fountains, don’t you? “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail,” (Isaiah 58:11 NIV).
Deer Mule: a Picture of the Church
This past May, my husband and I were privileged to watch a herd of mule deer feed. We lodged on Grand Canyon’s north rim overnight – the herd grazed the meadow in front of our cabin. These gentle animals named for their oversized ears grazed quietly each dawn and dusk, an image of what our spiritual relationship with the Lord should look like. Ears open to His voice, hearts coming to feed in His presence twice daily. Like a doe that grazes is the Lord of heaven among those with a gentle spirit. He rewards our meekness and humility with His Presence. He longs to feed us the deep things of the Spirit as we walk with Him in purity. Selah!
Action Assignment: Type or hand write one scripture verse on the topic of love that speaks to you, stirring you to love others. Put it in the first person. Place it where you see it several times a day. Then commit to declare this verse aloud daily for the next week. See how it influences your thoughts. His Word is alive, so it will change us! Here is the one I have taped to my PC monitor:
“I am patient with you. I am kind. I do not envy or boast.
I am not proud or rude, not selfish, not easily angered.
I don’t keep record of wrongs.
I always protect, always trust, always hope,
always persevere in our relationship. That is love.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are love. I must have love developed within me to the point that it alone is my first response to every situation. I want my every thought to line up with Your Word and be loving, so teach me Your ways of love. Make me Your love apprentice, Jesus that I may show indiscriminate compassion to all as You do. Amen.
Takeaway on God’s Character: God is love. He does not have it, it is who He is. His character is described in 1st Corinthians 13. Memorize it to know how He thinks and feels. Study the books first John, second John and third John to learn more about how love behaves. Embrace the mystery by faith instead of trying to figure it out with your intellect. Absorb His love for you. Lavish in it delightfully as it changes you!