Shrewd as Snakes, Harmless as Doves

"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves" - Matthew 10:16

Discernment and conviction. By Jesus' own words, that is what is required of His followers. Discernment to know the enemy's true intentions. Conviction to live out the gospel anyways. When you go up against an enemy, you cannot be caught off guard. The reason we turn the other cheek? We saw the blow coming and have already decided our course of action.

A disciple who is caught unawares is ill prepared, and probably inclined to fall victim to temptation. But Christ is our strength when temptation arrives. He has defeated the enemy already. We can rest in that assurance. No matter what, calling upon the name of Jesus, when we are at our most vulnerable, is always the answer. The Lord works in mysterious ways (Habakkuk 1:5). But His ways work. All we need is faith.

How often do we bring this mentality into our every day lives? Do we ask the Spirit for wisdom, when we meet a stranger on the street? Do we call on the name of Jesus when our anger flares, and our frustrations justified? Do we trust that God is for us, and all power and authority belong to Him (Romans 8:31)? The reason we are gentle as a dove? We believe in God's justice. We believe that his mercy towards us, will bring justice to our enemies. He has it in hand. That is why we extend mercy to the people who deserve justice. We deserved justice at the hands of a holy, righteous God. He extended mercy instead.

We discern, for the sake of our own freedom (John 8:32). When we know who treats us as a neighbor, and who treats us as an enemy, we can correct our behavior accordingly. We extend love and forgiveness to our enemies, but we only seek fellowship with our neighbors. Boundaries (Ephesians 6:10-20) are a healthy way of protecting yourself against enemies, spiritual or otherwise. They are the "gentle as a dove" defense against the fiery darts of the enemy. They can take the hit. Jesus is our strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). He has everything at hand. We can trust Him.

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