I still cannot believe Randy and I allowed this big ole snake to slither all over us! It makes my skin crawl just to look at the photo! It was during a village fair not long after our arrival in France. The magic show was part of the entertainment and they asked for volunteers. This picture even made it into the local paper!
Our verse for today was spoken to the twelve apostles by Jesus. He sent them out into a hostile unbelieving world that He likened to wolves. The apostles were as vulnerable sheep who have no natural defense in the face of attack except to run. For that reason they were told to be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.
In ancient lore and in Egyptian hieroglyphics, serpents symbolized wisdom. They were thought to be shrewd, smart and cunning. The image of a dove is pure and innocent. The idea in using this image of a dove was one of gentleness.
What Jesus counseled then is just as valid today. For the believer who dares to speak to others of his relationship with Christ, there is always the potential to encounter hostility. Dealing with hostile reactions requires shrewdness. Some opposition and persecution can be lessened by avoiding words and attitudes that are abrasive. It is not wise to needlessly incite division and anger. We are told to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are also told to bless others when we are reviled and mocked (I Corinthians 4:12).
His wisdom is pure, peaceable and gentle (James 3:17). Lord, make me wise and shrewd but at the same time innocent and gentle.