I must admit something. As I am working through these readings to write these blog posts, I am finding it very difficult to determine what to write about. Reading two chapters involving the life and teaching of Jesus and writing about one thing is like trying to pick out the red gumball in a bowl of red gumballs. I can’t possibly mention everything that catches my attention.
Let me mention one thing then from Matthew 10 verse 16. Jesus is sending the disciples out on their own for their very first taste of first-hand ministry. Before doing so he gives them some instruction and some advice. We might be tempted to consider his training a bit on the light side by today’s standards. He doesn’t run them through a 6-week course on how to share their faith, he doesn’t give them any nifty acronyms to remember evangelistic principles and he certainly doesn’t give them any tracts to hand out. It is very much trial by fire where they have to rely solely on their faith to see them through. This is shown even in Jesus’ command to take nothing with them but to rely on the provisions given to them by others along the way.
Then in verse 16, Jesus tells his disciples to be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. These are to characteristics that we need to take to heart as Christians today. First we have to understand that shrewdness is not a negative thing. To be shrewd means to be astute, to have good judgement. In Bible speak it means to be discerning, to have an understanding that pierces through things and sees their true nature. Too often I have seen Christians be the exact opposite of that. I have seen Christians be taken in by very ungodly things because they are not shrewd, they have no skill in perceiving the underlying truth. This includes being taken in by scams to being lured into cult-ish practices. Things like the use of crystals, involvement in secret societies (like the Masons), fortune telling, wigi boards, they are all activities that I have known Christians to be involved in because they did not understand the true spiritual nature behind the practices. We need to be shrewd my friends.
And we need to be innocent. Paul writes: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12) The reason we are to be innocent is so that there will be nothing to say against us by those who don’t believe in Jesus. Pause for a second and think about if you have lived up to that standard. Don’t think about anybody else, I’m sure we’ve all known Christians who have fell in this regard. But this is about you. Have you been as innocent as a dove? If someone were to dig deep into every crevice of your life, what would they find? It is a very sobering command Jesus gives here. Be innocent so that when your life is examined by others they will see nothing to use to disprove your faith.
Shrewd and innocent. To key characteristics for us to have in our lives.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9:1-17