What We Don't Know May Hurt Us
Have you ever heard the expression, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”? Or, “Ignorance is bliss”? Whoever says that is either unaware of, or choosing to ignore, hidden destructive elements in life. Take carbon monoxide gas, for example—we can’t see, smell, or taste it, but no one with good sense would sit in a closed garage with their car running!
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were walking our dog and saw a big, empty, patch in a guy’s yard where grass should have been. The guy was standing next to it, raking the barren dirt. Since he greeted us first, we felt free to ask him what happened to his yard. “Quack grass,” he explained. “Quack grass? You mean a bunch of ducks came along and chowed in on your yard?!” (I didn’t dare ask that, but I thought it). Seeing our confused expressions, he continued, “Here, I’ll show you”, and picked up a long, stringy, weed-like plant. “It hides in the grass where no one can notice it and destroys all the grass,” he pointed to the barren patch for emphasis. “That’s terrible!”, we both exclaimed. “Yeah, and the worst part is, when you don’t know it’s there, it does all the damage! So you have to root it out and get rid of it before it gets rid of your grass!” He then went on to explain that so much rain this year made it grow fast enough to choke out his grass before he could see and get to it.
Song of Sol. 2:15 beseeches us to “Catch [for us] the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” What do we know about foxes? They are sly, quick, and can even look cute. Little foxes look even cuter (“aww, look at the baby fox!”), and appear harmless. But foxes, especially little ones, can hide very well, doing their undercover “dirty work” of tearing up fruitful vineyards and laying them waste. The more we let the “little things” go, the bigger and worse they get until everything good and fruitful in our lives is all torn up and left in shambles.
What “little foxes” are threatening and ruining our “vineyards”? Lack of integrity in certain areas of our lives (cutting corners, not being totally honest in our dealings, etc.)? Roots of unforgiveness and bitterness towards others? Loss of temper that leaks out or even explodes here and there? A superior attitude towards others “less righteous” or “less successful” than us? “Small” and “harmless” habits that lead to addictions when indulged in? Insensitivity toward others’ needs? Anything else? Ask the Lord to “search [our] heart[s]… and see if there is any offensive way in [us] and lead [us] in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). We can also ask friends, family, even co-workers—they’ll be glad to (hopefully lovingly) point out offensive ways in us that we don’t notice!
When it comes to latent sin in our hearts, ignorance is not bliss. It’s stress. We may not be able to identify what’s keeping us up at night, messing with our minds, or keeping us down emotionally, but until we discover and get rid of it, it will devour our physical, spiritual, emotional, and even social health, like hidden termites in a wooden house! That’s why David, in Psalm 51, once he “called a spade a spade” and faced his sin, asked the Lord to “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Ps. 51:10-12) He knew he’d never get his joy back until his heart got cleaned out.
Don’t let the “little foxes” outfox us. Enlist the Lord as our “hunter” to track down and rid us of those “critters” that will take over and destroy our lives if we let them.
Stay vigilant. Stay accountable. Stay whole.