“Listen! I am sending you, and you will be like sheep among wolves. So be smart like snakes. But also be like doves and don’t hurt anyone”- Mathew 10:16 (NIV)
In his ministry here on earth, Jesus was often found using metaphors to clarify truth. For example, as in our leading verse today he picks up three creatures, most people can relate to, as to teach believers how to conduct their lives in the world.
First, he compares believers to “sheep among wolves”! Has anyone ever seen a sheep locked up in a pack of wolves! You can imagine how their mouths start watering in anticipation to make of it a great meal. A truth that so many tend to forget, in this world believers are caught in between wolves with sharpened fangs. A sheep to survive such a pack needs a lot of survival skills, like distracting the enemy or appearing to be one of the pack, while holding true to its very nature.
This is why Jesus goes on to add, “be smart like the serpent” In the Bible the snake is the most cursed of creations under the sky. It was cursed because of its deception that led Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden truth. “The LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:14). The snake only survives to this day by being very shrewd, often going at great length to hide its full colors, while living low, till it snaps from no where, to finish off its unsuspecting victim.
This metaphor while in no way asking us to be deceptive is to drive home the point that as we live among wolves, we need to be shrewd, just as well, for the enemy will give us no chance, should he have an opening.
Then Jesus, remind us, that in the midst of all we should be “like doves and don’t hurt anyone.” A dove is a bird so often used to symbolize peace. Wherever believers are they come with the true Gospel of peace. Ours is a Gospel of peace because it frees troubled hearts by resting them with faith in Christ. We preach a Gospel of peace because it reconciles fallen man into fellowship with his creator.
But this Gospel regardless, is always resisted by the enemy. Believers are not that welcome wherever they go. Believers “are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness’-(I Thessalonians 5; 5). Darkness since creation has always been resisting light and seeks to overpower it. Hence, the very reason why Christ reminds us to be wise if we are to get any far, as indeed we should.
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, I thank you for the wisdom that you have given me to overcome the enemy, and may I always rely on it, to preach the Gospel of peace which sets the captives free, this I pray in Jesus’s name!.