Catch the Little Foxes
Melanie Chitwood

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32 (NAS)

Holly has a hard time parking in the garage. It sits at a tricky angle, and she has run into the garage wall quite a few times. In fact, her van has plenty of scrapes and dents to prove it. Her husband Dan could choose many ways to respond—he could be angry every time, or he could berate her, but that's not his reaction. He has repeatedly chosen to forgive Holly. Their situation is an example of one of the "little foxes" mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:15: "Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!" (NLT). Theirs is a situation that could have become divisive, but because of Dan's gracious response, this "little fox" did not ruin their "vineyard of love."

Do any "little foxes" come to mind when you think about your own marriage? Maybe your spouse was abrupt when speaking to you, didn't give you the attention you wanted, wasn't responsive to intimacy, forgot your anniversary, or got home late without calling recently. Everyday married life presents countless occasions to choose to be offended or to choose to forgive, as today's key verses instructs us.

Without forgiveness, we'll find ourselves becoming irritated, hard-hearted, bitter, and disconnected from our spouse. A friend taught me one way to make sure this doesn't happen: The moment I feel offended, I can choose to forgive. If my spouse says something that makes me mad or hurt, I need to begin praying at that very moment to forgive. Doing this allows God to begin softening our hearts immediately.

In addition to dealing with the little foxes of small offenses, we will sometimes need to forgive our spouses for big offenses. We might be betrayed by unfaithfulness, our trust might be rattled by secrets our spouses keep, or our feelings might be stomped on by spouses who do the same hurtful things over and over again. If one quality makes a Christian marriage stand out from the rest, it's our choice to forgive our spouse. We might feel as if we're ignoring the offense or giving our stamp of approval by choosing to forgive. Our pride and fear might rise up: What if the offense happens again and again? Will I be taken for a fool? What will others think?

Choosing to forgive is an act of obedience to God's commands. Forgiveness entails choosing, often over and over again, not to dwell on the offense because that would allow a root of bitterness to grow in our hearts. But let's be clear: If you're dealing with a sin issue in marriage, choose to forgive but still spend the needed time talking about the situation, praying separately and together, and seeking godly counsel.

Forgiveness is a one of the most essential attitudes for bringing unity and oneness to marriage, and it flows from our relationship with Christ.

Dear Lord, cover our marriage with a spirit of forgiveness. I confess that sometimes I want to hold a grudge, to retaliate, or to be right, rather than forgive. Lord, I don't want the enemy to get a foothold in our marriage, so through the power of the Holy Spirit, I slam the door on Satan by choosing to forgive my spouse. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Need Forgiveness from God?

For more about forgiveness, visit Lysa TerKeurst's blog, where Holly Good, Lysa's assistant, will be blogging today.

Adapted from What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

Visit Melanie’s blog What Matters Most

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Application Steps:
Dwell on Christ's forgiveness of your offenses.

Say, "I forgive you" today.

Say, "I'm sorry" today.

Choose not to dwell on your spouse's hurtful words or actions.

Don't hold a grudge or seek revenge.

Choose your friends wisely.

Take care around others who bad-mouth their spouses.

The moment you feel offended, begin to pray that the Holy Spirit will work through you to forgive your spouse.

What "little foxes" come to mind concerning your marriage?

Have you chosen to be offended and hurt? Or gracious and forgiving?

Have you been avoiding talking to your spouse about a big offense? Can you choose to today to take the first step in talking about this situation, praying about it, and perhaps seeing a godly counselor?

Power Verses:
Colossians 3:12-13, "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (NLT)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes!! Lord, make me willing. . .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You Lord for forgiving me. I will forgive my husband for the little foxes and for the big things that affect my marriage. Thank You Melanie, Holly, Lysa, and Proverbs 31 Ministries for your encouragement. You are a blessing in my life.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am hearing that I must forgive and forgive (7x7)=completely

The talking it out part seems impossible since my husband is so ego-fragile that even the very tiniest things makes him angry when I try to talk it out.

I ask God to restore us bring us to a place of health in our marriage...for our good and His names sake.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the little reminder that we are the cause of some of the little foxes, as Jesus said remember to forgive as he forgave us. Thanks for the ministry is a blessing

Blogger Familyof6inTX said...

My husband and I have had lots of opportunities to have little foxes invade and we have at times, but we are getting better at it. Now, I just need to extend that to other relationships.

Blogger Unknown said...

A look at a verse I had never noticed before...Song of Solomon 2:15...eye opening! So well put! Just this weekend one of those little foxes tried to ruin our love vineyard...just a little fox but a prideful little thing! Thank you for sharing with us today that which God layed on your heart! Like another has already said, I need to extend this to other relationships as well!

Anonymous Margie said...

Great Post!! and so ture... every garden wants to be fruit, have more fruit and bare much fruit... thank you again for this great reminder to forgive as God forgave us keeping the little foxes out of our relationships.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not married, but I am having a really hard time forgiving my boss for some things that he has done over the last couple of weeks. He has a really bad attitude towards me and has really hurt me in a lot of ways this year. I feel like some of the things that he has said have really discouraged me from doing my job. I went into my job loving it and now I don't know if I can do it anymore. I know that I need to forgive him and move on b/c it's only hurting me. It's really hard to know how to act around people when they have really done you wrong. But I have to ask myself how many times have I hurt God and how many times has he forgiven me? I can't keep "taking him back to court". I have to let these things go so God can work and fight for me.

Blogger Melanie said...

Hi ladies, thanks for reading and commenting here. Your comments encourage me, bless me and teach me. Yes, I think relationships are usually filled with more "little foxes" than ... bears? so many opportunities to be Christlike!

Blogger Kelsie said...

I'm reminded of my own faults that my husband chooses to forgive. For that, I am so thankful. God's grace is good. Love does cover a multitude of sins. Thanks for the devotion!

Blogger Mitzi said...

God works in mysterious ways! Just this weekend, my husband & I have had to deal with this very subject. We have been working through issues in our marriage and last week we were either going to go our separate ways or work together. We have read this together today. We are so much stronger today than in the past 10 years of our marriage because of God. We didn't put Him first in our relationship.
I am very happy to say I am forgiving him and those around us that need forgiving. He is choosing to do the same. I hope others will learn to forgive. With God, anything is possible. For the first time in 10 years, I finally believe in my marriage!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm discouraged after reading this devotional.

My husband is a roommate. He has slept in the same room with me maybe 5% of the 20 yrs we've been married. He cares only for himself, and his world revolves around himself. He is bi-polar and has Asperger's Syndrome. He lies about the smallest (and stupidest) things. His anger is explosive and violent. He pretends on Sunday, will bend over backwards to help someone else...and then come home and unload the filthiest language you can imagine on me. Yes, I forgive him, but I know what and who he is. He is a roommate, and not a very good one at that.

When I see devotionals like this one, I compare scripture with scripture to find what God is saying to me. He is saying forgive, yes. But I will remain where I am, separate and far away from this man emotionally.

We are going through extreme financial difficulty, bill collectors have hired attorneys to come after us... and we have thousands of dollars worth of tools in the garage he hasn't used in years. He is incapable of seeing God's hand of discipline.

Please... no advice! I've already heard all the platitudes, and they have no effect.

Your devotional only reminds me of what marriage is supposed to be.

Blogger Michele said...

I recently became very ill-nearly died at one point. My husband went on a cruisade to rid the house of anything that might make me weaker (I am now immune suppressed) and the Lord got hold of him and said, it's you. He moved out of our home about 6 weeks ago. He enrolled in an abuse recovery program that starts in a few weeks. PLEASE pray for our family. This is such terribly difficult time. My kids need me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will pray for you, I wrote the comment just above yours. Yes, it is your husband. Have hope! He heard the Lord. I will pray for your children. God promises to take care of you!

May I say this as well? The church has let you down. But He who named each star in heaven and knows the number of grains of sand on the earth also knows the needs of your children. He will take care of you, rest in Him.

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