“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) This verse’s three components: A Commission, A danger, and instructions to handle the danger.
1) Commission: Mission is Lord sending us on His behalf, as representatives or ambassadors. C.H. Spurgeon writes, God’s Master Strategy: God is sending sheep to attack wolves? He also writes that the world nature teaches us that there are always more sheep than wolves. Yes, globally there is estimated one billion sheep and about 3 to 6 lakh wolves. Wolves are ferocious but still their population is less.
2) Context (Danger): The context is dangerous. First, Wolves are incidentally and habitually hostile as they hate without reason. (John 15:25) Second, Wolves are purposefully hostile as they survive by killing and eating them.
3) Competence like dove: Many times, Christians behave like this: “Innocent as serpents and wise as doves?” Dove is a clean animal and used for sacrifice (Leviticus 14:22) Doves are used as symbol of peace by United Nations, almost in all nations. Dove is also symbol of Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22) Dove is known for its innocence. As Christians we do not give into temptation of retaliation, vengeance, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. Lord Jesus Christ did not retaliate or curse or take vengeance; instead chose to forgive from the Cross. Gentle without being pushovers; sacrificial without being taken advantage of.
4) Competence like serpent: Satan disguised as a Serpent and used Deception as strategy. So, serpent is considered as: Subtle, crafty, shrewd. (Genesis 3:1) There are some who opine that it was Satan and not the serpent. Like other animals’ serpent is also just one creature. There are many kinds of wisdom:
Natural Wisdom, Sacred Wisdom, and Strategic Wisdom. Serpent’s adaptability, flexibility, maneuverability, mobility and survival skills are examples. They use creativity and wisdom to survive in all continents.
We should avoid snare or trap set for us. Serve joyfully without blame.
Am I wise as serpent and innocent as dove?