“FOX TROUBLES”                                                      By Pastor YAU

Text: 1 John 1:5-10; Song of Songs 2:15                       July 22, 2007.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A real story: According to the Wall Street Journal, the British are having trouble with the foxes, the sly little fellows once lived in the woods, have now moved into London and are making a general nuisance for themselves. They knock over rubbish cans, swipe shoes left out to dry, destroy gardens and leave a foul odor. With the city borders being pushed farther into the once countryside, the little troublemakers are adapting to city life rather than moving away. The Londoners are frustrated and upset and life in this great city is never the same any more.

2)   A good lesson: When we stop to think about it, little “foxes” can become big problems for Christians who try to honor God in our everyday life. What we consider “little’ or “harmless” sins, if not dealt with, can cause us to fall or lose spiritual power. Telling a “white” lie, stretching the truth, a little gossip, careless negative comments on others, cutting corners at work or little cheating in school and many other seemingly “little” offences. If we allowed these to continue, they may grow larger till someday things will get out of hand to bring us down.

 

SOME OF THE LITTLE FOXES: Cheaper by a dozen.

1)    Pride: Feeling proud is not limited to people with great success or highly educated. We all have the temptation to feel proud. But pride is the reason that caused the “bright morning star” to fall and became Satan. (Isaiah 14:12-15)Pride is offensive to all people.

2)    Greed: Greed is that part of nature we all have to fight hard to control. Paul says that “greed is the roots of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10)We need to be content with whatever God has provided for us be it material, success, fame, power or anything else.

3)    Lose tongues: King Solomon told us to gain wisdom by keeping our mouth shut. He said, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs. 10:19)We learn better by listening than talking.

4)    Gossiping: Talking behind people’s back is character assassination. The Bible says, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” (Proverbs 20:19)

5)    Bad temper: Losing temper is a sign of losing self control. “Better is a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” (Prov. 16:32)Sharp words causing wounds that take long time to heal.

6)    Laziness: Just in the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon rebuked the lazy bones 17 times. He says, “Go to see the ants, you sluggard, (lazy bones) consider its ways and be wise. . . a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit.” (Proverbs 6:6-11)

7)    Empty promises: Don’t make easy promises. Fulfill all promises you made to God and men. Again Solomon says, “It is better not to vow (promise) than to make a vow and not fulfill.” (Eccl. 5:5)

8)    Stealing: Taking things that are not yours is stealing even if it is a small thing. “Thou shall not steal” is a popular Commandment we all remember.

9)    Hatred: Hatred is poisonous. It hurts both the one who hates and the one who is hated. Hatred also leads to worse consequences. Again, Solomon says, “Hatred stirs up dissension (strives)” (10:12) If you hold hatred, there is no forgiveness.

10)       Dishonest: Telling lies, big or small, is acts of deceit. No one will trust you if you always lie. Jesus wants us to tell the truth, “Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no. Anything other than that comes from the evil one.” (Matt. 5:37)

11)       Selfish: Selfish people care only their own interest which is exactly what the Bible tells us not to do. Paul says, “Each of you should look not only your own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4)

12)       Boastful: Bragging is a sign of empty deceit. Boasting on success or achievement, true or exaggerated, is taking glory from God. The Proverbs say, “Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let others praise you and not your own mouth, someone else and not your lips.” (Proverbs 27:1-2)

 

DAMAGES FOXES CAN DO: They can harm…..

1)    Your spiritual growth: People who allow little sins to persist in their lives will slow down, if not stop, their growth in the Lord. These are obstacles of growth because they are all rooted from human weakness instead of the power and control of God. Many of the little sins are signs of spiritual immaturity. If you allow them to sink in your life, they will choke your spiritual growth.

2)    Your character building: Your character is the essence of value of you which shows who you are and how people relate to you. It is important that we build and grow our character in a way others may respect you and work well with you. The above little sins are serious frauds that will damage our value to others.

3)    Your human relationship: No one lives in this world by himself. We live in the world with others. Relationship is the foundation on which you build your identity and happiness. The little sins as mentioned above will reduce, if not destroy, your relationship with others. Few, if any, would continue to stay close to you or work with you. You will be lonely, isolated and left self-pity.

4)    Your effectiveness: To be effective is a noble desire, be it spiritual, family life, job performance and other things we commit to. But to allow little foxes (sins) roaming around, destroy here and there, the very purpose and results we try hard to achieve is in contrary to our goals of life. Little sins are like extra baggage. They can only drag us down from advancing our goals. When the short comings become part of our life, we are no longer able to achieve results we otherwise are able to produce. Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown away and trampled by men.” (Matt. 5:13)

 

FOX FREE FORMULA: Ref. 1 John 1:5-10

1)   Seek the Light: “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you.” (1:5) I believe all of us desire to know the light and to live in the light. The only way to achieve that desire is to have the Light (God) in our life. This is an everyday pursuit, a daily walk with Him, seeking His guidance and power in our daily affairs. No one can live his life without the shadow of darkness by his own power. Seeking God and walking with God each day is a sure start to get rid of the foxes, the destructive force.

2)   Live by the truth: “If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (1:6)The truth is the Word of God, the Bible. God’s directives for our lives are all in His Word, the Bible. We need to read His truth each day, seek guidance from the truth each day and live by the truth on all things we do. The Truth is the measure by which we make choices, decisions and plans. Every time when we come to a crossroad, to a decision making, we need to go back to the Truth to find the guide-lines to follow. The Bible is not just needed at Sunday School or worship time, it should be our guide of life each day.

3)   Confess the sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” (1:9)Admission comes first and then confession before we receive forgiveness of our sins. To deny our sins is to blind ourselves of the facts. “If we claim we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1:8)We must be honest with ourselves and see the rotten condition we really are in. No confession, no admission and no admission, no forgiveness. No forgiveness of sin, no eternal life. It is that simple.

4)   Purified by the blood: “The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sins.” (1:7) Purification is a process to get rid of pollutants. That means we need to have a mindset to continuously pay attention to our “vineyard” (our soul and actions) to see if there are some “little foxes” (sins) doing harm to our soul, our value, our relationship and our effectiveness. When we see little foxes (sins), we need to ask the power of Jesus’ blood to get rid of them, to clean up the mess and to rebuild the vineyard. Knowing your sins and allow them to stay and grow is counter productive. King David says something we can learn from, “Search me, O 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)Just as farmers need to continuously checking their field for weeds and unwanted growths that may slow down the growth of good crops, we also need to purify our soul and deeds in order to grow the good fruits God desires us to have.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Beware of little foxes: Most of us won’t see a tiger in our backyard to post a life threatening situation. But we may see many little foxes which will destroy the results of our labor: messing up our beautiful flower bed, tearing down the bird-feeding cage and generate odors no one like to past by your front lawn. “Small” sins can do us the big harm.

2)   Face the truth: Instead of ignoring and covering up our small sins, it is for our own good to see the truth in our life, words and deeds. Ask God to help you identify them, get rid of them and restore your life to better productivity, usefulness and God honoring.

3)   A new beginning: If you feel that your life is dull, meaningless and non-productive, ask Jesus to come into your heart to give you new purpose, new power and new meaning. Confess your sins, big and small, and He will help you cleanse them out and restore the joy you always want to have.