Wednesday, June 28, 2017
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:16-20(NLT)
Jesus taught his disciples many things; in this teaching the main point could be missed entirely if connection is lost between the shrewd and harmless demeanor we are supposed to exhibit, and the reason why we are to be this way.
So let’s examine it for a moment.
Shrewdness is all about understanding your context, and then acting in the best interest of whom you represent. For the Christ-follower, our context is that we are at odds with the world (James 4:4). Considering the One we represent is Christ, shrewdness is a matter of knowing there is opposition to the things of Christ’s kingdom, and developing ability to discover how our actions will either enhance Christ or demean Him.
Harmlessness is readiness to engage the hostility the world will inflict, without regards to how it will affect our comfort or well-being; it means we are content to lay the outcome of such engagement squarely in God’s hands, and that God will use the confrontation of His good (our harmlessness) with the world’s violent evil.
Real time application:
I’m currently engaged in spiritual warfare over a health crisis. I’m praying God may use what happens for the best Kingdom result. And that may well depend on if I can manage to be shrewd and harmless.
I have an appointment today with the throat doctor. I don’t know if he is a believer or not. The outcome of this thing could be quite benign…he might say: take two throat lozenges and chill out; take the stress out of your life. The other end of the spectrum could be that my vocal cords have a malignancy, involving removal of my voice box, or worse. In that case the pulpit ministry of the past 40 years is at an end.
Now, I need to be shrewd and do the best I can to preserve whatever tools God gave me in this life, so I will listen intently to what the doctor says, while I invite the Great Physician to inform my mind from within. But I need to be as harmless as possible also, understanding that my actions may be crucial to the faith of the doctor in front of me. And those actions are either going to squander, or invest in, the opportunity God is creating with this situation to help my doctor know Him, and perhaps bring him to faith.
So…if you got to read this before 8:45am…that is the time for my appointment with the guy who’s going to stick that delightful tube-scope down my throat. Here’s what I’m asking as your part in my prayer: pray, if you will, not so much that I’ll be OK; pray that I’ll be shrewd and harmless, and will listen to the words God wants to put in my mouth, so I can be bold in the witness of Jesus Christ before a doctor and staff who may have need of a more eternal kind of healing.
I invite you to pray – yup, right out loud, while you’ve still got a voice – this prayer of John Wesley’s…the kind of prayer for being shrewd and harmless…a tool in the hands of the Master carpenter:
I am no longer my own, but thine- put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Thou art mine and I am thine. SO BE IT