“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
The vocation of the labourer in God’s vineyard is truly not an easy one. After asking God to send labourers into the harvest, Jesus empowered the twelve disciples by giving them authority over unclean spirits, diseases and sicknesses but still, this wasn’t enough. One more element was needed: Wisdom.
Dear friends, anointing without wisdom is like buying a race car and using it to carry tubers of yam from the village farm to the market square through an untarred and unmarked bush path. For us Christians to really labour for God, we must not depend only on prayer, we must match the world wisdom for wisdom. As Jesus says: “we must be as intelligent and smart as serpents and yet be pure and innocent as doves.”
In Luke 16:8, Jesus made a comment that “the children of this age are shrewder in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.” The serpent did not come to Adam and Eve shouting, insulting or cursing, rather it employed a very intelligent approach convinced them beyond doubt and made them disobey God.
Jesus is asking us even this day to employ the same methods as the serpent in converting hearts to God. We must be wise, creative, and intelligent, and at the same time endeavour we have a pure motive. For instance, preaching shouldn’t be aimed at filling up our churches to capacity for pecuniary reasons or to show off. It should be about saving every soul that walks in. Our motives must be pure; innocent at doves.
In our first reading, we see how the prophet Hosea employs persuasive language so beautifully in seeking to turn the hearts of the Israelites back to God. Hosea employs great wisdom and creativity; while informing them of God’s wrath, he also reminds them of God’s infinite mercy and love. These are the two great motivating factors for repentance; the fear of God and the desire to reciprocate God’s infinite love.
In conclusion, Jesus warns the labourers ahead of drawbacks to expect in the course of ministry. It is not a rosy ride at all. We have seen many who began well but fell off along the line because they could not withstand trials and difficulties. As labourers for God, we must be prepared to run from one town to another, we must be prepared to drink the cup of suffering and sacrifice and not complain when these things come.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom of serpents and the innocence of doves in order to labour rightly for your kingdom. Amen.
Bible Study: Hosea 14:1-9, Psalm 51:3-17, Matthew 10:16-23).