I wouldn’t say I like snakes. They represent to me danger, biting, venom and something or someone not to be trusted. I live in Australia which has some of the most venomous and life-threatening, if bitten by one, snakes on the planet.
However, Jesus used an interesting description when teaching his followers how to navigate through life. He warned that he was sending us out as “sheep amid wolves” and that we were to be as “wise as serpents and harmless (gentle) as doves.” (Matt:10: 16)
Jesus was warning that the world is often opposed to His ways and that if we desire to follow Him, it will make us a target, much like sheep amongst hostile, hungry wolves. However, Jesus doesn’t want us to be sheepish or fearful but to have a snake’s attributes in being prudent, careful, and intelligent; to have street-smarts and be capable of dealing with potential dangers. Plus snakes don’t go looking for trouble but will seek a means of escape where possible to avoid needless capture or traps when confronted.
Jesus also said for us to be as harmless as doves and to be gentle and peaceful. The Greek term also relates to purity, innocence, and simplicity.
As we live in what can be a hostile world, Jesus is saying we are to be wise (avoiding trouble and any traps set for us) and innocent (living pure, blameless lives). He is not suggesting that we are dishonest or slippery, but that we should take note of the snakes cunning and avoid danger in a positive way. Unless defending itself, the snake will not bite or seek to attack.
Jesus set an example in that he was always gentle and moved away from conflict if it had no purpose. He often avoided His many opponents by ministering in desert places, private homes and passed through crowds to escape them harming Him supernaturally. However, when He needed to stand His ground, he did, such as when He chased the money changers out of the temple. (John 2:15). Jesus discerned His listeners’ hearts and motives and refused to be caught in the many traps that His enemies laid for Him. He was as harmless as a dove in every circumstance, living a pure and holy life. He acted in compassion, and no one could legitimately find fault in Him (John 8:46; 18:23).
Today and especially in the times and season we’re living seek to be wise in the way you live, knowing what you are called to do and be, so that you won’t be snared or damaged by anything or anyone.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be both wise and gentle in the way I live so that I will walk in blessing and purpose, and can avoid any snares of the enemy. In Jesus name Amen