Matthew 10:16-20 (New International Version) 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Being a Christian comes with a series of God-given responsibilities. Not only to ourselves, but to the millions of unsaved persons that live, work, and play all around us. While our calling is to reach out and touch the lives of the hurting and lost, it can sometimes be difficult to wade through the furious ‘wolves’ that block our way to them.
Christianity has been a persecuted religion from the very beginning. From the schemes of King Herod to post-Cold War efforts, the Christian faith has been under fire from powers both mortal and immortal for thousands of years. In our modern age, it is estimated that over 144 countries face open Christian persecution both legally and socially. The United Nations has recently recognized the amount of deaths associated with Christian persecution to international genocide. These are sobering facts of the fallen, sinful world we live in. Jesus knows that the Great Commission is a hefty burden to bear, especially in a culture where truth is so hated. In the book of Matthew, Christ clearly and plainly explains this fundamental idea: Christians will always be persecuted because of the God they serve. Governors, kings, and other figures of power will attempt to imprison them in order to silence their message. These imprisoners, or ‘wolves,’ will look for any weaknesses or opportunities to attack in the hopes of quelling the Great Commission for good. This disheartening picture is easy to fall prey to, but Jesus leaves His followers with a simple yet clear message: “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Although the metaphor is unique, it gives us a great deal of insight as to how we might approach our calling in the manner to which Christ expects. So what does it mean to be both a snake and a dove at the same time?
Put on the Armor of God daily. Do not allow yourself to fall prey to temptation or ill intent!
Live blamelessly and righteously in Christ. We will all still sin and fall short of God’s glory, but we must daily pick up our cross and continue to follow Him. Remember: tomorrow is a brand new day!
Keep a pure and blameless mind. Purity of thought is vital to the Great Commission.
Prepare yourself for ‘wolf’ attacks. If they have not happened yet, they are sure to come -- and soon. Read the Word daily, and pray for God to strengthen you in times of persecution.
Be willing to admit when you do not have all the answers. Wisdom is truthful and open, but it is not deceitful. Strive for complete honesty in all areas of your life.
Following Christ in a world so torn apart by persecution can be a scary prospect. But take heart, friends! Our God has overcome death itself. And if nothing of this world can hold us, who then shall we fear? Let us stride out as serpents in dove clothing, and become pure, wise, and blameless followers of Christ. Closing Thoughts: How should you as an individual respond to the Great Commission? How does becoming like a snake or dove help you to spread the gospel? Are you prepared to live out the calling of Christ, no matter the cost? Friends, we are to be clean, pure, and wise. Luke 10:3 (Berean Study Bible) 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Acts 20:29 (Berean Study Bible) 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.