Faithfulness in littles
(John Colwell, "Little Foxes; The Little Sins That Mar the Christian Character" 1882)
"Catch the foxes — the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes!" Song of Songs 2:15
The little things of life are most important. Those who affect to despise the importance of little things, are in danger of becoming little people. Certainly no great man will ever do so. He will the rather prove his greatness by a hearty recognition of the truth of the wise saying, "He who despises little things, shall fall little by little."
The Great Teacher drew some of His most beautiful and important lessons from little things, such as little flowers, little birds, little dew-drops, little children. He insisted on faithfulness in littles.
My friend, life is great because it is the aggregation of littles.
As the coral reefs which rear themselves high above the crawling sea beneath, are all made up of minute skeletons of microscopic animalcules; so life, mighty and solemn as having eternal consequences — life that hangs over the sea of eternity, is made up of these minute incidents, of these trifling duties, of these small tasks; and only those who are faithful in the least are, or can be, faithful in the whole.
Little things make either . . .
the joy — or the sorrow,
the success — or the ruin,
the safety — or the danger,
the grandeur — or the smallness
— of human life. Illustrations of this principle abound.
Little neglects lead to great ruin.
Little precautions lead to great safety.
Little wastings make great losses.
Little savings make great gains.
Little troubles make us miserable.
Little virtues make us godly.
Little vices make us wicked.
Therefore, says inspired Wisdom, "Catch the foxes — the little foxes that spoil the vines," which is equivalent to saying, "I know you will keep out the more hateful and destructive full-grown foxes by stopping all the large holes in the vineyard fence. Your danger lies in overlooking the smaller gaps by which the little foxes may enter, and thus spoil your vines by robbing them of the tender grapes."
How forcibly may this advice be urged upon Christian people! They will be almost certain to secure the vineyard against the intrusion of shameful vices, destructive sins, and great scandals; but are they always so careful to stop the smaller breaches in the fence of their Christian character against the little foxes, lesser sins, smaller vices, and trifling moral blemishes which, nevertheless, spoil the loveliness and perfection of their lives? Judging from observation and experience, we fear not.
In the following chapters we will point out some "little foxes" that do much damage in the Christian vineyard, and invite our readers to hunt them down!