Daily God Walk Monday, August 22, 2011
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men. – Matthew 10:16-17
In this chapter of Matthew Jesus is sending his disciples out to minister throughout Judea. He is telling them to go from town to town healing, freeing people from their demons and preaching the kingdom of heaven is near.
He tells them to stay where they are welcomed, but if they are rejected they are to move on to the next place. Jesus tells them that if a house or a town rejects them that it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Then he begins to warn them of the dangers of they will face as they go preaching the message of the kingdom. He gives them fair warning that they are being sent as sheep among the wolves. They can expect to be turned over to the temple soldiers and be flogged in their synagogues (v17).
It is in this context that Jesus tells his disciples to be shrewd like snakes, but to be innocent like doves. What did he mean by being as shrewd as a snake? A characteristic of snakes is that you seldom know they are there until they strike. Snakes do not snarl and bark like a dog, or roar like a lion but the first sign that they are near is often when their fangs sink into your flesh.
It isn’t the attack of the snake Jesus is calling them to duplicate but it is the stealth of the snake. He is telling his disciples to be very wise in how they teach about the kingdom so that their preaching will have its greatest impact.
That admonition about snakes is countered by the instruction to maintain innocence even in the face of severe trial. Jesus was telling them to expect to be persecuted and questioned. He also told them that Holy Spirit would be with them and would speak through them, but it was required that they trust him in an innocent sort of way.
This passage calls us to examine the wisdom with which we speak about the kingdom and to examine whether we maintain the innocent nature of Holy Spirit when we present the gospel.
Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace of wisdom coupled with innocence.
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