“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
Lately I’ve been reading some classic animal nursery tales with my daughter like The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. It’s nostalgic for me and she gets a kick out of them, especially The Three Little Pigs. At random points in the day she’ll just bust out and say in her “deepest” voice, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in.” It’s quite hilarious!
On one of the many occasions I read her the story the phrase “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” kept coming to mind. That simple phrase is a prayer I’ve been muttering lately concerning my children (as well as my husband and myself, for that matter). It’s also the perfect description of the third pig. He had the wisdom to build a sturdy brick house, the discernment to recognize the schemes of the wolf and the ability to elude him at every turn.
Jesus sent the twelve disciples into hostile territory after having given them authority over evil spirits and all manner of sickness and disease. Yet, His parting words of warning dealt with their perception of people and situations. Why wise as serpents and harmless as doves? The Greek word translated wisdom in this verse also includes discernment. Way back in Genesis, Satan is described as a serpent; the most cunning land animal God made. He had a scheme and he knew just who to approach with it, Eve. He knew just what to say to her too because he’d been observing her for a while. Even in the natural, snakes spend time “sniffing out” a situation before they attack their prey. Doves, on the other hand, are masters of elusion (pun intended). They escape harm without making a whole lot of fuss or retaliating in kind.
Jesus says we need both qualities: recognizing the schemes and devices of people the enemy sends our way and knowing how to escape it. Basically, it’s staying one step ahead of the enemy. We go out and send our children out into the world every day where the saying “there’s a sucker born every minute” is the rule. There’s always someone looking for the next sucker they can fool. If Adam and Eve were no match for the serpent, how can we outwit him? The answer is in Matthew 10:20: the Spirit of your Father. The Holy Spirit reveals the hidden motives and the way of escape!
If you recall, the third pig so frustrated the wolf because it was like the wolf was grasping at the wind. Every time he thought he had a plan that worked, the pig outsmarted him again until he trapped himself by his own plan. The story ends with the wolf running away, never to return to the little pig’s house!
My prayer for the children of all believers is that we establish them in the word of Christ (like the third pig’s brick house). Then when the enemy sends agents to draw them out and devour them, by God’s wisdom they’ll sidestep him to the point he walks away licking his wounds looking for someone else he may devour.
SOUL FOOD (Scripture References)
Romans 10:17, NIV; Colossians 3:16, NIV
1 Peter 5:8
© Vanessa A. Harris and The Legacy of Faith, 2012.