Tuesday’s Column: Dale’s Mail
Foxes are known for their cunningness. They are often portrayed as animals full of deceit and trickery like in Disney’s Pinocchio. We can expect a fox to be out in the wild but seeing one in your backyard or neighborhood makes the wise take the necessary precautions such as taking your small dogs indoors, locking up the chicken coop, and keeping on the alert when night falls. In the same way, the Christian shouldn’t be too surprised to see the devil prowling around in the world but how do we respond when we see him in our own backyard?
When the devil is seen prowling the pews of the church building or sneaking into our families, what is our response? Paul paints a vivid picture for the Philippians by describing those seeking to harm the church as “wild dogs,” “evil doers,” and “mutilators of the flesh” in Philippians 3:2. You can be sure that there’s a fox in the flock by looking for the signs. If you see trash littering the ground, feathers scattered around the hen house, or fresh paw prints, the evidence might suggest that a fox is to blame for the carnage. When the saints are gathered together and you notice the trash of gossip, division, strife, selfishness, or greed, follow the tracks. The signs may point to the most cunning fox of all–Satan. Here are just a few practical suggestions to guard yourself and families from his destruction.
Make sure the gate of your heart is locked. It can be tempting to join in the gossip or even provide a listening ear. When there is division among brothers and sisters, we should take a closer look at our own actions and be sure that we are not contributing to the problem but seeking those things that unify.
Secondly, don’t feed the fox. Sometimes we can be guilty of this by simply doing nothing at all and allowing it to take up a permanent residence among us. Tolerating sin is just as destructive as being a part of it. This tends to happen by avoiding the problem or assuming that it’s not our job to step up and do something about it and this can be very costly. Remember, the longer the fox is allowed to hang around, the more damage will be done.
Third, be watchful. It’s the moment that we let our guard down that we can expect unwanted intruders, and if it has a tail poking out of a nice tailored suit, be wary.
Fourth, the walls we build up should be strong. Even if Satan has damaged the congregation you attend or even your own family, there is still hope. Nehemiah undertook the daunting task of rebuilding the walls that once protected God’s people. He knew surrounding armies were a serious threat to their wellbeing and even under threats and insults he was able to rebuild their peace of mind. The army of Samaria lurked on the outskirts and one individual named Tobiah the Ammonite makes the obnoxious attempt to demoralize the builders by yelling, “Even a fox climbing up on that wall would break down those stones!” Yet the work continued on because Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 4:6, “…the people worked together with all their heart.” This is the key to success. When God’s people work together and are motivated to keep evil out a spiritual wall of protection is built. There will always be the threat of evil lingering outside and looking for a way in, but God is far bigger and stronger than they are.