Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Title: Serpent And Dove
By: Amanda Foo
Matthew 10:16 (ESV)
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
This phrase had always intrigued me. Why did Jesus combine two contrasting animals when commissioning the Apostles? I understand the need to be wise, but a serpent? The serpent did after all play a key role in the fall of man, deceiving Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Having said that, we know that Jesus never makes a mistake and is intentional in all that He does (and says).
In Matthew 10, as Jesus prepares to send the twelve Apostles out in pairs to preach the good news and do His work, He warns them that they will be treated the way wolves treat sheep. Sheep are largely defenceless, naturally nervous and easily frightened; however, Jesus counters the notion by asking the apostles to “be wise as serpents”. According to snake experts, avoidance is the most common form of self-protection by snakes. They are quick to slither away; they bite humans usually only in self-defence. Jesus is not suggesting that we stoop to deception but to model some of the serpent’s famous shrewdness in a positive way. Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
Not only that, Jesus tells the Apostles to be as innocent (or “harmless” as translated in KJV) as doves. The apostles (and us) are called to reflect the gentle and humble spirit of doves, not giving others a legitimate reason to accuse us of injustice or immorality. Too often I find myself not listening well or with respect; eager to show the folly in others’ viewpoint. However, that may not be the most effective way of witnessing. According to 2 Timothy 2:24-25, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
The world needs to hear the message of Jesus and sometimes that may result in persecution. However, that shouldn’t stop us from telling people about Jesus. As we take the gospel to a hostile world, let us be courageous yet vulnerable, non-combative, sheep-like witnesses. Also, let us strive to keep our conduct honourable, so that those who see our good deeds may glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).
Heavenly Father, we seek to be effective ambassadors of Christ today. Help us to not be intimidated by the persecution that awaits us, but instead set our eyes on the things above and the joy that is set before us. When difficult moments arise, help us to lean on You for wisdom and strength.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
在马太福音第10章，耶稣准备差遣十二个使徒两人一组地去传福音和做祂的工作时，祂警告他们将会受到狼对待羊一般的对待。羊基本上是没有防御力，它们天生胆小并且容易受到惊吓；然而，耶稣要使徒 “灵巧像蛇” 来反驳这一观点。根据蛇专家的说法，躲避是蛇最常见的自我保护形式。它们迅速地滑走；它们通常只是出于自卫才咬人。耶稣并不是建议我们堕落到欺骗的地步，而是以一种积极的方式来模仿蛇的一些著称的机灵。箴言27:12 “通达人见祸藏躲；愚蒙人前往受害。”
不仅如此，耶稣还告诉使徒要驯良（或 “没有恶意的”(harmless)英王钦定本的翻译) 像鸽子。使徒(和我们)被召体现鸽子温顺和谦卑的性情，而不是给别人一个合理的理由来指控我们不公正或不道德。很多时候，我发觉自己没有好好地或没有带着尊重地去聆听；急于揭示他人的谬论。然而，这未必是一个作见证的最有效的方法。依据提摩太后书2:24-25，“然而主的仆人不可争竞，只要温温和和地待众人，善于教导，存心忍耐，用温柔劝戒那抵挡的人；或者神给他们悔改的心，可以明白真道。”