Thursday, June 28, 2007

What If...I were as shrewd as a snake?

Jesus says to his disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

I think you'll agree with me that we've heard the message of being "innocent as doves" throughout our Christian lives. Message after message, resource after resource on being "set apart" in our innocence in the Lord. The blood of the Lamb has made us innocent in the eyes of Lord. Hallelujah!

Yet, only one time in my life have I heard a sermon preached on these very words of Jesus...Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes. I find it extremely interesting that the prelude to being innocent as doves is to be shrewd as snakes. And, even before that, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves." We certainly recognize this. We know, by experience, the truth of this statement.

Shrewd as snakes. The connotation is negative, isn't it? What do you of when you hear the word "snake" in a biblical context? The serpent, I would assume. I know I do. But, this cannot be what Jesus intended. So, what does this mean to you? To be as shrewd as snakes?

If we go to the gospels, we emphatically find that Jesus was shrewd. He knew when to speak. He knew when to refrain. He knew when to act. He knew when to refrain. Yet, through it all...He was innocent as doves. (Is not the Holy Spirit symbolized by the dove?)

There is a passage in the Bible that talks about guarding your heart. We know the "spiritual weight" the heart has in our relationship wit h God. Countless scriptures on the state of the heart. I wonder if this "shrewdness" is related to guarding the heart? Or, perhaps, to taming the tongue?

What does being shrewd as snakes mean to you?


Anne said...

Randee, interestingly Lee was talking about the word shrewd in a spiritual talk not long ago. He explained that even though it sounds negative, it actually has positive meaning. One meaning of shrewd is "marked by clever discerning awareness". If we are to be shrewd with our money, for example, then maybe that's the opposite of being foolhardy. Discerning awareness vs being irresponsible. Jesus was sending his disciples out into the world with admonition to be both sharply aware and pure of heart. Interesting to contemplate trying to hold both of those in balance.

Lori Arriaga said...

Yes - this isn't talked about much and is usually thought of negatively. It can be thought of as being ready to strike at someone quickly with the first sign of a threat as a snake seems to do or it can be thought of also as being alert to your surroundings as a snake needs to be in order to protect himself and discern if there is a real threat or not and take the best course of action. A snake doesn't always strike but will quietly slither away when it's best because it isn't always worth it to strike.