Bible Ballistics: BBs #381 Wise But Harmless???
Today I want to veer off the normal path, and share what I hope will be some helpful pointers for living an “open-eyed” life for Jesus. So many today seem to be walking around blind to the tricks, traps and decoys of the enemy of our soul, Satan, yet he is a busy-beaver when it comes to entrapping us in the spider-webs of the world. Jesus had much to say about living for Him in this crazy world.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep
in the midst of wolves:
be ye therefore wise as serpents,
and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men:
for they will deliver you up to the councils,
and they will scourge you
in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings
for my sake,
for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up,
take no thought how or what
ye shall speak:
for it shall be given you
in that same hour
what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak,
but the Spirit of your Father
which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:16-20
This has always been an amazing passage to me, in that Jesus never called us to walk a ‘garden path’, or to think that we are to serve Him wearing ‘rose-colored glasses’; but Jesus told us that when we serve Him the world wouldn’t like it. He calls us to be aware of our surroundings, and while we here in America have historically been relatively free from suffering for the Gospel, there have been more martyrs for the Gospel in the last 100 years than in all the previous generations. Yet, many still accuse those who claim that Christians are being targeted and persecuted of having a vivid imagination, or creating “fake news”! Jesus told his disciples long ago that they would face opposition when they shared the Gospel and lived it out before the world. He gave us some great principles that we can still practice today.
First, Jesus reminded us that HE was sending us out as “sheep in the midst of wolves”—did you get that? Jesus said that we would be as vulnerable as sheep because He was sending us into the world of wolves—and wolves love to eat sheep (Not to be graphic, but that is what Jesus is warning us about!) Just as Jesus told us, the enemy’s desire is to “steal…to kill…and to destroy” US! And yet we skip along in life like we have no mission other than to please ourselves (which is why so many have no inkling about opposition or suffering), but Jesus has “sent” us out to do His work. And if you remember, HIS work cost Him His life! And HE calls His own to live their lives being “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”!
What does that mean? Simply put it means that we are to pay attention! If you’ve ever watched a snake they are always watching; ready to pounce, run, strike or consume their prey. Yet Jesus also added a caveat to the call to be wise, He said that we are to be “harmless as doves”. While there are many birds of prey, the dove isn’t one of them. They are the world symbol for peace—being harmless—doing no harm. And that is how our wisdom is to be exercised. We are to cause no harm intentionally.
We are to speak the truth boldly with love—the love of God that desires that none would be lost.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
While it isn’t easy to be ‘harmless’ all the time, we are to pursue peace without timidity or fear, yet recognizing the challenge. Scripture speaks to this dilemma:
“Recompense to no man evil for evil.
Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible,
as much as lieth in you,
with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves,
but rather give place unto wrath:
for it is written,
Vengeance is mine;
I will repay,
saith the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19
Paul reminds us that sometimes when we stand firm and boldly for the truth and won’t back down, it brings its own conflict. At those times Jesus instructed us that we are to depend on the Holy Spirit to direct our words and actions; being faithful witnesses of the truth, no matter the cost, trusting to our Father to provide the strength, wisdom and courage to speak truth, exercising peace “as much as lieth in you”. (I am responsible for ‘my’ actions and reactions!)
I also want to share a bit iin regard to a few simple things that seem to be going unnoticed for a great many today. We are to be gentle in all our ways, regardless of ‘my personality’. The grace and love of God are to be the hallmark of our interactions with others—in person, in private, on social media, in public, and most importantly in our homes and churches. Kindness and civility are their own reward. Don’t allow yourself to be bated into useless banter on social media or anywhere else, you don’t need to join every ‘chat’ or ‘comment’ stream, exposing yourself to ridicule or even worse, being provoked into betraying The Lord in anger. We are not to put ourselves in danger by “posting” information that others can use to harm us or our family—be “wise” about what you put out in public. There are “wolves” that peruse ‘the net’ looking for targets—not only identity theft, but crimes against you and your family, burglary and worse (Don’t tell the world you’re not home for the next two weeks—duh! That’s like an invitation, ‘Come rob me, no one is home!) We are to be peaceful, not ignorant of ‘the wiles of the devil’. And those ‘quizzes’, ‘surveys’, and ‘tests’ are often simply ways to get your personal information, not to mention those cute little friendly ‘games’ of ‘answer these questions about yourself’! You are playing right into the hands of those who desire to take what you share and do you harm. Hello!!! If we’ve just listed our family names, ages, and other personally identifying information for public broadcast, why are we suddenly shocked that someone has ‘hacked’ our accounts, stolen our ‘identity’, or our money?
My friends, I pray that you will receive this in the love that I am extending in trying to make us aware of the dangerous ‘wolves’ around us. We must pay attention to the dangerous world we live in. As believers in and followers of Jesus Christ The Lord, we must heed His words, practice wisdom and try to “do no harm”! May we ask Him to “Be Thou My Vision”!
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life;” Philippians 2:14-16