"It's the little foxes that spoil the vine."
Ever heard this phrase? It refers to the things we might ignore because they're seemingly insignificant but they become destructive left to themselves.
There are so many applications for this little illustration. I think of the employee that cuts corners on the details to accomplish more of the visible or "important" jobs, then is later dismissed due to carelessness. Or the student who rarely studies and does't bother to turn in small assignments so she can work harder on the large projects, but in the end all those little assignments, averaged against the big one, cost her a scholarship. Or the novelist who didn't take the time to do the research and remains unpublished due to laziness.
We can make it more personal, more eternal. Think of the things we skip every day like reading the Bible because we slept late and only had time for one verse before rushing out the door. Soon more days pass, until we don't even remember we were going to spend time with God. Or the little lie we told at work to keep ourself in the good graces of our boss. The next time we may be willing to overlook a sin that is just a tiny bit bigger. Over time we become hardened to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and no longer hear His wooing. Like Sampson, we don't even realize we've lost our relationship with God and our eternal position. Or the times we felt the need to pray for someone and shot up a quick, "Lord bless them." Later we discover some terrible sin or tragedy that occurred in their lives and we wonder what might've been the outcome if we had prayed as we'd been prompted.
"If you have to eat a frog, don't look at it too long.
If you have to eat a bunch of frogs, eat the big ones first."
Here's another illustration. I can't even find who said it, but it teaches us to do first the things we'd rather not do at all. And if there are a lot of things we loathe doing, we should do the worst ones first and get them out of the way.
The longer we look at a task we don't want to do, the harder it will seem and the longer it will take of our precious time. We lose so much by leaving things we hate hanging over our heads. They rob the things we love because we can't focus on them, knowing the dreaded task still awaits our attention.
Jesus said, "The Truth will set you free." Obviously He's referring to Himself, but also to any given truth. The truth is, if we do the things we have to do, do them completely and do them quickly, then we'll have time to enjoy the things we love without worry or dread.
Both of these phrases teach us discipline. This discipline is for our own good. It will free us and prosper us. It will pad our reputation with integrity and prepare us to hear our Savior say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest."