Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:16, “I am sending you out like sheep among the wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” This passage serves as a clear warning to the followers of Jesus Christ that there are many people that may look like us, act like us, or even talk like us, but they are wolves among the sheep. In this world we will have trouble, Jesus tells his followers, and the Psalmist states that for God’s sake “we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalm 44:22). The Bible is clear that as God’s sheep we will face persecution and hardships.
While we will face trouble and hardships in this world, the Bible also indicates that we are “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37) and that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:28). In order to experience the victory that God offers us amidst the wolves of this life we must be certain that we are heeding the words of Christ to be both shrewd and innocent.
Another word for shrewd is wisdom. The Bible is the source of wisdom for the believer and it is our play book on how we are to navigate through this race of the faith. We can try to substitute the wisdom of the Bible for the wisdom of the world and we will always come up short. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:19, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” Philosophers and teachers come and go, but God’s word remains forever true. Wisdom begins with acknowledging that God is God and I am not (Proverbs 1:7) , which leads us to follow His commands as found in the Bible. When we follow God’s commands, we will find that it will save us “from the ways of wicked men” (Proverbs 2:12).
Jesus also tells us to be innocent. Peter states that we are to “live at harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9). We need to make sure that our lives are reflecting Jesus in all of our thoughts, words, and actions. Continually we need to ensure that we have a clear conscience before God through prayer, repentance, and right living.
While we will face trouble, we are able to emerge victorious. Remember the words of 1 Peter 5:10, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Jesus, our great shepherd, is our vindicator!