Snakes and Doves
October 6, 2020
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).
Most of us don't consider ourselves to be courageous people. For the most part we want to live our lives in peace and pursue our dreams and goals with as little controversy as possible. But we live in a world that doesn't permit that.
As Christians, we want to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others, hoping and praying they will receive the Gospel with the same joy it has brought us. Sadly, the devil doesn’t permit that either. Jesus said, If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:18-19). And again, Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
We should expect people to respond to the Gospel; clearly the world will not appreciate it. But we go anyway because we love the Lord Jesus Christ and we want to obey His commissioning in our lives (Matthew 28:18-20). Does this give us some apprehension? Yes. Does it even cause us to fear? Yes. But John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
Jesus didn’t pull any punches with His disciples before sending them out to witness. He knew what they would face so He prepared them by addressing their attitudes and actions. First, His disciples, then and now, are sheep facing wolves. We are to be inoffensive and harmless witnesses for Jesus Christ in a world that is cold, unfriendly, and cruel. Why? Because “People are giving more allegiance to the prince of darkness than to the Prince of Peace” (R.C. Sproul). So it is normal and natural for the world to resist and reject Jesus Christ.
Second, we are to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. The serpent symbolizes wisdom, shrewdness, and intellectual keenness (Genesis 3:1; Psalm 58:5). The dove symbolizes peace, harmlessness, and innocence (Hosea 7:11). So, Jesus told His disciples, then and now, to be wise and courageous in presenting the Gospel while at the same time protect themselves by avoiding danger.
“Father, it is a dangerous world we are living in, and that danger is increasing day by day. You said, ‘perfect love casts out all fear’, so increase my love for You so that confidence and courage will replace the fear that I have in living for Jesus in a world that hates Him. Give me Your peace that I might effectively share the Prince of Peace with others. To Your glory and praise I ask, Amen.”