The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 1
Every person has a vineyard. We may not perceive that we are keepers of vineyards but there are responsibilities that we all have for our vineyards. First, we have the personal vineyard of our own soul. It is perhaps the most important vineyard of all that we are to take the most care of. Our soul is the most valuable possession that we have according to the Word of the Lord (Matthew 16:26; 10:28; Ecclesiastes 12:7). The care of the soul is a very tedious and challenging process. It involves the careful work of plowing, planting, cultivating, weeding, watering, and harvesting. Just as a farmer is in a joint venture with God, to care for our soul will have to be a joint venture with God. We cannot do it all alone! We must have God to intervene with Spirit and Word to accomplish His will for us.
The care of the soul is not something that will be accomplished with a single attempt but rather it is an ongoing process that takes years of constant devotion and care. It is a process that can be called holiness or sanctification (Luke 1:74-75; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:14; 2 Peter 3:11). There will be ups-and-downs with the walk of holiness and yet we are to constantly strive to be pleasing to God (Php. 3:14; Romans 6:1-12; 8:1-10). We must not let self-righteousness or self-reliance get in our way of caring for our souls.
The second vineyard that we have a responsibility for is that of our family. It is one of the most challenging vineyards to care for in our times. The family has been under the attack of the devil since the first family who lived in the Garden of Eden. He refuses to let the family rest from his attacks. When the children of Israel were about to go into the Promised Land, God felt it important enough that He would give Moses some advice to pass on to the Israelites concerning the vineyard of the family. They were about to go into another pagan culture just as Jacob and his sons had been transferred to Egypt. They had been slaves, then wanderers, and now they were conquerors but God still required a level of devotion to them.
In Deuteronomy 6 there are a few principles laid out that help us to see how we are to care for the vineyard of our families.
· Deuteronomy 6:1-5—The parents had to have a deep love and reverence for God.
· Deuteronomy 6:6-7—The parents had to make sure that there was a constant, conscious, and consistent transfer of truth. (The word “diligently” in 6:7 means to sharpen. In the Hebrew, this word would signify the idea “You are to intensely sharpen your sons!” This kind of instruction is not passive but it is aggressively active and it will require attention, time, and effort for it to be accomplished.)
· Deuteronomy 6:10-14—The parents had to make sure that they did not fall into the traps that are often laid by prosperity. From a wilderness of manna and quail to a land of milk and honey which defines the possibility of falling to the snare of materialism. This is only overcome when there is a constant element of gratitude and humility in one’s heart.
· Deuteronomy 6:20-25—The parents had to frequently and regularly remind themselves of God’s faithfulness and grace.
The third vineyard that we find ourselves having to take care of is the church. If you have been converted and have experienced the New Birth you have a responsibility to help with the vineyard of the church. Obviously pastors and spiritual leaders are the primary directors of the role of taking care of the vineyard but the fact remains that we all have a part to play in it.
To take care of the vineyard of the church we find four priorities in Acts 2:42 that sum up everything we must do. They were devoted to learning—they learned the Apostle’s doctrine. They were devoted to fellowship—they loved each other. They were devoted to worship—they gave themselves to prayer. All of these things working together served as an excellent foundation for the early church to take off and accomplish incredible things for the Lord.