It’s helpful because it equips us to relate to an unbelieving world. Jesus and Paul as well as other biblical writers did their best to prepare us for what lies ahead.
Jesus prepared His disciples by showing them what they would face. Their master had been persecuted and they would be as well. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Then He added two powerful verses in which He spoke to the disciples directly: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you, and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
Persecution is inevitable. How do we prepare?
Jesus said: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
One of the dilemmas of our life is how to be both wise and kind. We know plenty of wise people or kind people, but we rarely find these two qualities in the same person. Jesus called His followers to live out both of these qualities at the same time.
Our children and teens often struggle with these qualities. They often assume you must be one or the other. In fact, you must be both. It’s the only way to live in a broken world.
To be wise as serpents is to be shrewd and crafty. The call to serve Christ is not a call to naivete; it is a call to wisdom. It is a call to study and prepare, a call to think and be ready.
It’s also a call to integrity, a call to speak the truth in love and to represent Christ well. To be innocent as doves is to be a person of pure motives.
Our lives should be lived wisely in Christ; they should be lived in the integrity of Jesus.
This verse calls for action which is rarely seen–wise and crafty as serpents and gentle, kind, and pure as doves.
I often pray for these qualities, that Christ will equip me to face life’s situations unafraid and to face it with love and concern for others.
May we respond as Christ Himself–as wisely as serpents and gently as doves.
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