Today our verse may seem strange, or even a little worrying at first glance, but in reality it contains very practical advice for our daily lives. Let's read together Matthew chapter 10, verse 16. It is written: "Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be careful as serpents and pure as doves."
To understand what Jesus meant, it is always important to place oneself in context. At that time, wolves were considered ferocious and dangerous animals, and sheep were vulnerable animals. Jesus therefore compares his disciples to sheep sent into a hostile and dangerous world represented by wolves. However, Jesus does not ask them to behave like helpless sheep. He asks them to be prudent like serpents and pure like doves. The snake is an animal renowned for its cunning and its ability to avoid danger, while the dove is a gentle and innocent animal. Jesus therefore asks his disciples to show intelligence and prudence in their behavior while maintaining their purity and honesty.
But concretely, how does this apply to us today?
The message of Jesus in this verse is timeless and universal, as a Christian, whatever the cultural or geographical context, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we have to live our faith in the midst of a hostile world.
Here are just a few examples of wolves or hostile environments that can be encountered.
At Work: In some workplaces, there may be pressure to adopt practices or behaviors that are inconsistent with our Christian principles.
In family life: sometimes we can face difficult situations in our own family, for example if some members of our family do not share our faith, or if they disagree with our life choices.
We can also face false teachers, I dare say it, but we can face people who claim to teach the Bible or Christian doctrine, but who in reality teach heresies and false doctrines.
Our hostile social environments and persecution too: In some countries or cultures, Christians may face open hostility or persecution. We can also face people in our environment who persecute us or mistreat us because of our faith.
And then there are the temptations of everyday life: there are all kinds of temptations today that can lead us away from our faith and our principles.
But here are three tips for applying this verse in our daily lives and standing firm.
First: be careful in your relationships with others, this means that you must be vigilant in the face of certain people who could harm you, while remaining simple and sincere in your communication and your testimony. Basically, avoid unnecessary conflicts.
Second advice: remain honest in all situations by refusing to compromise your Christian values. To be pure as a dove means not to be corrupted by the world but rather to follow the principles of God's Word in all circumstances, however difficult it may be. This quality is especially important in a world where temptations are many and social pressures can be strong.
And then third piece of advice: show intelligence in your actions, that means being cautious like a snake and thinking about the consequences of our actions before implementing them. It is also being able to adapt our behavior to the different situations that we encounter in life and that our testimony can remain authentic.
By following these three pieces of advice, you can put into practice the principles of Jesus in our verse for the day.
Let us exercise prudence, intelligence and integrity, and be faithful witnesses of God's love and grace in our daily lives. Hold on!
Sandra Kouame (article originally published on February 20, 2023)