The Little Foxes

Title: The Little Foxes

Bible Book: Song of Solomon 2 : 15

Author: Francis Dixon

Subject: Christian Living; Fruitfulness; Little Foxes


The Substance Of A Message Preached By The Rev. Francis W. Dixon At Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, England, On 26 September 1965. (PastorLife expresses gratitude to David and Mary Tucker, son-in-law and daughter of the late Francis Dixon, for making the Lansdowne sermons available. For more information go to

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes" Song of Solomon 2:15)

Harvest is always a time of joy and of thanksgiving, and as we gather together on this festival occasion we render our special praise to God for His bountiful provision throughout another year. All these good things around us remind us of the Lord's kindness and faithfulness. But on an occasion like this we must be careful to think also of the harvest that God is looking for in the lives of His children. There is one verse in the Gospel of John, chapter 15 that tells us of the Lord's purpose for each one of us. It contains the word of Jesus Himself - "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain..." (John 15:16).

I want to set this word from the Song of Solomon 2:15 against the background of John chapter 15, and by so doing share with you the lessons that we need to learn about fruitfulness in Christian living and in Christian service. Notice the following sequence of teaching: Jesus Is The True Vine

To begin with, we see that Jesus Himself is "the true vine". We are sure of this because He Himself said so - "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman" (John 15:1). Our Lord said this in connection with the institution of the Lord's Supper, when the bread and the wine were employed by Him as symbols of His sacrifice and offering upon Calvary. He was therefore saying to His disciples, "I am the real, genuine vine", and of course the vine is the source of the fruit. Any fruit that appears on the vine does not derive its life from the branches or from the leaves, but from the vine itself. This leads us to the second truth, which is that…

I. Christians are the Branches in the Vine

Believers, Christians, are branches in the vine. Our Lord said, "My Father is the husbandman" (verse 1) - the one who tends the vine and busies himself with the branches, as verses 2-6 indicate. But who are the branches? We have the answer to this question in verse 5 - "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." The branches, then, are believers, Christians; and, incidentally, this verse shows us exactly what a Christian is. A Christian is a branch in the vine, one who is joined to Christ, united to Him, deriving life from Him, and a partaker of His very nature. A branch is not a dead stick; it is a living thing. How clear this is! Are you a branch or a dead stick? This leads us to the third truth:-

II. Branches are to Bear Fruit

As branches in the vine, we are to bear fruit. I suppose it would be true to say that this is the reason why the vine has branches; it is the function of the branch to bear fruit. Thus, we read in verse 2: "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit...; in verse 4: "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except  it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me"; in verse 5: "...the same bringeth forth much fruit"; and in verse 16 we read that we are "chosen ... ordained" - for what? - To "bring forth fruit"!

This is what the Lord is looking for in your life and mine. He is looking for fruit, and as He looks He prays, "From Me is thy fruit found" (Hosea 14:8). The source of this fruit is the Lord Himself, "the true vine". The manifestation of this fruit is seen on the branches of the vine. As He looks at us, does He find any fruit? This leads us to ask the question: What is the fruit that appears upon the branches which are united to the true vine? What kind of fruit are Christians to bear?

III. The Fruit is Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit we are to bear is "the fruit of the Spirit". This is not the fruit of the spirit (small 's'), but the fruit of the Spirit (capital 'S'), as we are told so clearly in Galatians 5:22-23 - "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." This is what our lives should be like. Here is a picture of the Christian life as our Lord intends it should be. Have you ever realized that there are four pairs of eyes watching us? The Lord is watching us, other people are watching us, the Devil is watching us, and we can see ourselves. What do these four people, or groups of people, see as they look upon us? They should see the fruit of the Spirit. Do they? They should see:-

Love ... are we loving?

Joy ... are we joyful?

Peace ... are we calm, restful?

Long-suffering ... are we patient, understanding?

Gentleness ... are we kind, sympathetic?

Goodness ... are we good or bad?

Faith ... are we trustworthy, reliable?

Meekness ... are we humble?

Self-control ... are we disciplined?

This is the fruit we should be bearing; these are the graces which should characterize us as Christians. This brings us to the heart of this Harvest message as we point out the following truth:-

IV. Little Foxes Spoil the Vines

The "little foxes that spoil the vines", that hinder the growth and take away the tender fruit are the sins of the spirit. This time the word 'spirit' is spelt with a small 's'. There are two kinds of sin we may commit. These are indicated in 2 Corinthians 7:1 - "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit..." The "sins of the flesh" are the gross sins of adultery, murder, blasphemy, drunkenness, and so on, and probably, by the grace of God, we are not guilty of these - or are we?

What we are so often guilty of are the "sins of the spirit" - these "little foxes", these "small sins", as   we call them, that creep in like the little foxes, almost unawares, subtly, silently, to spoil the vines and to take away the fruit. What are these "little foxes", these sins of the spirit? It seems to me that there are three kinds: there are the wrong things we think, the wrong things we say and the wrong things we do. These may be described as heart sins, lip sins and behavior sins. They are committed in secret, they are spoken and they are shown.

A. Heart Sins

Think for a moment of the heart sins, the secret sins. David had something to say about these in Psalm 51:10, when he prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me". What are these heart sins? They are sins such as jealousy, pride and impurity. These are the "little foxes that spoil the vines", that hinder the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Are we guilty?

B. Lip Sins

Then there are the lip sins, sins which we commit with our mouth. In Psalm 120:1-3 we read: "In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? Or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?" Did you ever pray the prayer, "Set a watch, O Lord, before ... my lips" (Psalm 141:3)? Read the Epistle of James and see what he has to say about the power of the tongue! This "little fox" of an unruly, undisciplined tongue is the fox that does the most harm in the Lord's vineyards - the "little fox" of a lying tongue, the "little fox" of a critical, unkind tongue, the dreadful "little fox" of a tale-bearing, gossiping tongue.

"Boys flying kites

Haul in their white-winged birds;

But you cannot do that

When you are flying words."

Are we guilty of committing lip sins? Why not make a vow now that, God helping you, you will never again consciously lower any person's reputation by any word you will speak?

C. Behavior Sins

Then there are the open, obvious, seen sins, what we have called behavior sins; sins that we commit when we act in such a way that it is obvious to an onlooker that we have an unclean heart and a wrong spirit. We commit this sin when we are unkind, when we are thoughtless and harsh in our treatment of others, when we are wrong in our relationship with another Christian and when we refuse to be reconciled to someone with whom we have had a difference, when we are uncharitable and when we are un-Christian. Are we guilty?

O, these "little foxes"! How they spoil the vines! How they rob our lives of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is waiting and wanting to produce in and through us! What can we do with these "little foxes"?

V. Dealing with the Little Foxes

The way to deal with the "little foxes" is to kill them. They must be drastically dealt with and they must be rounded up and put to death, for "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Galatians 5:24); they must be mortified - "reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God" (Romans 6:11). If the "little foxes" are not put to death they will grow into "big foxes"! If you want an illustration of the way to kill the "little foxes", read Judges 15:4-5, and see how Samson caught three hundred foxes, tied their tails together and made them perish in the fire! What a picture this is of the way in which the Christian should round up and deal with the "little foxes" of pride, jealousy, evil-speaking, untruthfulness, envy and every other sin of the spirit! But how can we do this? How can we kill the "little foxes"? We cannot do it in our own strength:-

VI. Rely on the Holy Spirit

The way to kill the "little foxes" is by relying on the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:16 we read, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust (or desires) of the flesh". Yield to the Holy Spirit, trust Him and rely upon Him to give you the victory. Then there will appear in your life an abundance of fruit - the "fruit of the Spirit".

Posted in


Scroll to Top