The Little Foxes: A Strategy for Self-Control

“When Satan cannot get a great sin in he will let a little one in, like the thief who goes and finds shutters all coated with iron and bolted inside. At last he sees a little window in a chamber. He cannot get in, so he puts a little boy in, that he may go round and open the back door. So the devil has always his little sins to carry about with him to go and open back doors for him, and we let one in and say, ‘O, it is only a little one.’ Yes, but how that little one becomes the ruin of the entire man!” – Charles Spurgeon

Self-control is an area in which many Christians struggle. We find our own levels of self-discipline half-hearted and anemic at best. Even though we have areas where we over-indulge, we shrug our shoulders, deciding that our lack of self-control is acceptable. After all, drinking several cups of coffee a day or eating two slices of pie every night before bed aren’t categorically sinful things to do. In fact, having plenty to eat and drink is a positively good thing.

ice cream

 

But while eating a second slice of pie or buying a new pair of shoes is emphatically not sinful, Jerry Bridges makes a great point in the book Respectable Sins: self-discipline in small areas of our lives can give us greater self-control in more critical areas. Bridges’s own indulgence is ice cream, and for him, controlling how much he eats gives him greater self-control in other areas, places where true sin lies: sins such as lust, gossip, anger, and any other vices that stem from a lack of self-discipline.

“The little foxes spoil the vines,” a saying drawn from Song of Solomon 2.15, is advice helpful for Christians seeking effective strategies for growing in holiness.