"Tender grapes"

It is noteworthy that Jesus in his teaching laid great stress upon what others might have called little things. He condemned the idle word, the straying thought; but he loved the simplicity of the little child; and the tiny wayside flowers and the birds illustrated his greatest sermon. The loaves and fishes with which he fed the multitudes were small; and even of these the very fragments were not lost. He showed how necessary it is not to overlook the little things, the small indications of right or wrong in our work and life. In one of his beautiful parables he spoke of the King's judgment, and told of some who were rewarded for acts of loving-kindness to him when he had been hungry, thirsty, naked, and in prison. These were astonished at his commendation, asking in amazement, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee?" Evidently they considered acts of habitual goodness too small to attract notice or to be remembered; but Jesus dignified all such acts in his story in the words of the King, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

In the Song of Solomon we read, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." At our present stage of human experience our understanding is not yet ripe. Great care and patience are therefore required to guard our thoughts in order that we may bring forth good fruit in due season. The chief characteristic of the fox is its cunning, the slyness with which it gains its end; hence this figure of speech is used to describe the crafty errors which would destroy the fruits of inspiration before they have a chance to ripen into action. A fox cub is a sharp-nosed, pretty little creature, soft and furry, harmless to all appearance; but when it is grown up it commits all the depredations of its parents. So with the little sins. They may at first seem not to do a great deal of harm; but for that very reason we need to be especially on guard against them, for they would rob us of the "tender grapes,"—they would try to destroy the virtues and graces which should yield a grand harvest of happiness later on.

January 24, 1925

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