When Jesus sent out the disciples He gave them these specific instructions:
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 (NLT).
What was Jesus saying? That the disciples were going to have people trying to persecute them, take advantage of them, use them or run over them because they were followers of Jesus! So it was in that context, He said: "as you go out and encounter these people, be as harmless as doves, but as shred (wise) as serpents".
I believe that Jesus was also saying that when people are trying to run over us, use us, take advantage of us, persecute us, or run over us, that we should, also be:
AS HARMLESS AS DOVES:
Don't fight fire with fire.
- Don't fight fire with fire.
- Don't take revenge.
- Represent Jesus well!
- Don't act in any way that it could "harm" the name or cause of Christ.
- Remain innocent, or as harmless, as doves.
However, I believe Jesus also gives us a lot of permission when He tells us to be:
AS WISE AS SERPENTS:
- Exercise faith, but don't be a fool.
- Don't allow people to take advantage of you, just because you're nice!
- Don't allow people to run over you, just because you're a Christian.
- Don't just trust people blindly. Trust in a relationship is something that's built and earned. Jesus didn't "trust" the Pharisees. He knew their hearts & motives!
- Prudence, counsel, and caution are all words associated with wisdom in Scripture. Therefore, they can be applied to our relationships with people!
Who's our example for this way of living? Jesus! Harmless as a dove...but wise as a serpent! Doesn't this once again make you proud to be a follower of Jesus?!
Does this challenge the way you think about Christianity?