“Be Ye Therefore…” – Wise as serpents, and Harmless as doves

23 Feb


Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.


This is the third in the “Be Ye Therefore…” series. In these last days, a Christian needs spiritual discernment now more than ever.  The Lord is reminding His disciples that as they serve among enemies within and without, they are to combine the wisdom of the serpent and the simplicity and humility of the dove.

We Have Met the Enemy… And He is Us

Christ reminds believers that He is sending us forth as sheep among wolves.  But wolves will also creep into our midst.  The apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders this in his final meeting with them before going to Jerusalem and imprisonment, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30  This is why it is particularly important in the last days to heed the advice of our Lord.

Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves

The serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made according to Genesis 3:1.  But notice the Lord doesn’t just want us to be wise as serpents alone.  Some have done just that and the result is the cunning and tricky, sometimes even deceptive person who would lack the compassion and humility to serve our Lord well.  It is important however that we have spiritual discernment in order to guard against false teachers in our midst as well as the wiles of the devil out in the world.  Such discernment only comes from God through His Holy Spirit and the great resource of His word.  Christians who before salvation were strangers to the household of God are now becoming strangers to God’s word by choice. It is no wonder they don’t have spiritual discernment.  (For more on this topic click here.)  Too many have chosen not to study God’s word and the result is the modern Christian who gets most of what they believe from the back of ‘Christian’ t-shirts and annual Christmas cards.

Someone once shared with me that they were taking a training course at the bank where they worked in order to be more educated on counterfeit money and fraud.  After spending most of the day learning about the characteristics of actual American money, one of the students raised their hand and asked the instructor when they were going to learn about the counterfeit stuff.  The instructor responded by saying that the best way to guard against fraudulent money is to know everything about the true currency.  The same is true for Christians.  We must know the truth to know the error.

But we must combine the wisdom of the serpent with the humility of the dove.  To be harmless is to remember that our fight is a spiritual battle. Paul tells us in Ephesians that “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” And in 2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) We are not called to change this world system, God will do that when He judges it. We are called to sow the gospel among the world of sin.  Many of the problems in churches today are the result of what I affectionately refer to as ‘Hoof and Mouth Disease’ or ‘Foot in Mouth Disorder’.  Many are quick to give knee-jerk reactions to situations in church and in the world without prayerfully considering the Lord’s will.

Final Thought

Finally, in looking at the beginning of our verse we see one very important detail… “Behold, I send you…”  We should always remember that we are the ambassadors of Christ sent to share the gospel of reconciliation to the lost and to edify our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Be ye therefore wise and harmless. Know when to fight, where to fight, and who your fight is with. Most importantly know who you’re fighting for. The cause of Christ and not bringing shame to it should be our highest concern as Christians.


A Fellow Servant


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15 responses to ““Be Ye Therefore…” – Wise as serpents, and Harmless as doves

  1. A Servant

    February 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    “We are not called to change this world system”. Absolutely right, we should let God do His job, we are called, as you said “called to sow the gospel”. Great post brother.

    • A Fellow Servant

      February 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Amen. Of course as Paul would say, I speak not as though I had already attained but this requires daily mortification of the flesh. To remember to be wise and harmless and that we serve Christ and one another. Another flagstone on the path of a servant.

  2. Levi Thetford

    February 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    This is a great post. It seems as if many Christian churches have taken their eyes off of the Prize. Many are so involved in politics, human rights, etc. that they have forgotten the mission. Wolves have definitely entered in. In my part of the country it’s coyotes though. Lol

    • A Fellow Servant

      February 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      We’ve seen some coyotes here too, literally. In that case, be wise as Roadrunner 😉. We have gotten our eyes off our mission though, which is the result from being lulled asleep many years ago. Now we awaken to find our faith under attack (as if it never was) and like Peter in the garden we draw our carnal swords and fight the wrong fight in the wrong way.


    February 24, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s always painful for me to see when believers lack discernment theologically or practically, and blown by the wind of every doctrine and what our culture says. Good sobering exhortation!

    • A Fellow Servant

      February 25, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Amen brother. It is painful to see when the remedy is so near at hand.

  4. Steven Paul, a Christ follower...

    February 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    In a world we cannot see, there is a battle so fierce that we just can’t imagine! Satan has the power to attract us with sinful pleasures. But we must try to resist. We need to turn to God in moments of temptation.

    The world may scoff at this. They do not understand, yet it may be that with time and understanding, God will enter their lives at some future point.

    We hope to influence that outcome, but James tells us to keep ourselves from being “polluted by the world…” (Jas. 1:27).

    Wise yet Godly…good post!


    • A Fellow Servant

      February 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Amen. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Steven Paul, a Christ follower...

        February 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm

        You are most welcome. It is my pleasure to read and be built up by a proper handling of God’s word!

        Stay encouraged…

  5. Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    February 28, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Yes I agree A Fellow Servant, we do need to read the Scriptures but they also tell us as you said that we need to do more than just read them, we are to do what they say.

    We also need to be aware that we can read them in the carnal flesh, so our understanding will be in error and the Truth in them will be foolishness to us, as confirmed in the Scriptures, the natural or worldly person cannot understand the Truth of God and His heart of Love shown in His good and perfect will for us. (1Corinthians2:9-16)

    Satan comes as an Angel of light but it’s not God’s Light, his is worldly, he cannot understand God’s Truth, including His Love because he does not have the indwelling of The Holy Spirit, which we ask for and receive, (Luke 11:13) as we do God’s wisdom, which none of us were born with and it is the principle thing found in Jesus but when we ask we believe we have received or why ask (James 1:5 -8) Jesus tells us to ask and receive He is our only Teacher, not others but He has used the foolishness of Preaching and He may tell you something A Fellow Servant that you can share with me and I with you but it will always be confirmed in the Scriptures even Mysteries.

    To be as wise as a Serpent means to know how to resist the attacks of those who seek to hurt us and to be as gentle as a Dove, means we hold no malaise towards those who do hurt us, not saying we have to agree with the evil they say and do but we forgive them and the only way our forgiveness can be genuine is by the empowering of The Holy Spirit.

    Jesus tells us as His body we are to minister to each other as well as sharing His Truth with the World. We are to carry each others burdens and cry with each other, and if needed to rebuke each other in Love and for Love we we sin, we also rejoice with each other as we sing and worship The Lord in Unity of mind and heart, regardless of where we live or what Denomination we belong to. We use our Spiritual gifts to build each other up and we esteem each other as better than ourselves, meaning we need to be willing to serve each other in the humility of The Spirit.

    Christian Love from both of us – Anne.

    • A Fellow Servant

      February 28, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Amen Anne. Good points and a blessing. Thank you.

  6. Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    February 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Sorry A Fellow Servant, it should read; and if needed to rebuke each other in Love and for Love when we sin.

    Blessings – Anne

    • A Fellow Servant

      February 28, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      No worries. My phone’s spellcheck gets me all the time like that. 😊

  7. Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    March 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I understand completely but I have some good news for you A Fellow Servant (see link below ) Annie always gets it write in the end.

    Fixed –

    Kind regards – Helpful Annie


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