I once read a story about a poor man who was trying to buy a house from a much richer man. This poor man didn’t have the financial strength to match the rich man’s asking price. So the rich man agreed to sell the house at a much reduced price (about 30 percent of his original asking price) on the condition that the poor man would allow him own a large nail that protruded from the front door.
Of course the poor man agreed to this deal. Who wouldn’t? Many years passed, and the rich man decided that he wanted his house back, but the poor man refused all offers to sell the house back. So the rich man went out to find the putrefying carcass of a dead dog, which he hanged on the part of the house he still owned- the large nail protruding from the front door.
The unbearable stench and social embarrassment that comes from a dead dog hanging at your door soon forced the poor man to vacate and resell the house to the original owner.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.(John 14:30-31, KJV)
“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.(John 14:30-31, NLT)
This was Jesus’ testimony. It ought to be ours too. But it so happens that some times, we unfortunately allow the devil to still have “a nail”, a toehold, or the tiniest of strongholds in our lives. Weaknesses we’ve refused to deal with, people we’ve refused to forgive, bad habits we’ve dismissed as trivial, besetting sins – these are nails sticking out from our lives that the devil could use to derail God’s purpose for our lives.
The scandals of moral failure that have hit many a respected man of God most likely started from a little weakness, or a fickle lust they refused to deal with. When they are then exposed, some people are quick to condemn them while continuing to ignore God’s subtle warnings about the little foxes intent on stopping us from bearing much fruit for God.
If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.2 Timothy 2:21 (NIV)
Anyone who desires to be used of God mightily must, by the help of the Holy Spirit, take care not to feed any ungodly habit. Being prepared to do any good work is not merely by fasting and praying for days before that “good work”. Living a consistent life in fellowship with God and walking in righteousness before Him is how we prepare ourselves for whatsoever good work God wants us to do.
Are there any “hanging nails” in your life? Are there any sinful habits you need to deal with? Expose that deficiency to the quick and powerful two-edged sword that is the Word of God. Suffer the pain of rectification now so you don’t have to suffer the pain of regret later in life.
You’re the planting of the Lord, that He should be glorified. Oaks of righteousness in His vineyard. Don’t let little foxes spoil all of that. Like the saying goes: “Stop them before they stop you”.