“I am sending you out like sheep amongst wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, NIV).
The above passage of Scripture goes back to my early days as a churchgoer. I was first introduced to this wonderful piece of godly advice by someone who was then twice my age who has since gone home to be with the Lord. This was in the early 1980s; there were still folks like this guy who walked the talk. Besides him, hardly anyone else amidst my circle of Christian companions touched on this important piece of Holy Writ!
As I added a few more grey hairs on my head, this passage enabled me to steer clear from follies that ultimately undermined the faith of those lacking the necessary shrewdness. These people confused innocence with being easy pickings. Therefore, they were unwittingly exploited by the conniving crowd, who were old hands at spotting a sitting duck in the bushes!
The overall effect of playing this wrong game was truly devastating as far as numerous spiritual journeys were concerned. Those at the receiving end of the uncalled-for bad trip could only question their belief in Christ – enough to cause severe backsliding and even total falling out from the faith!
Compounding the above problem is the wrong perception of firmness. Oftentimes, hardness of heart is confused with firmness, which is a critical facet of being wise. There is nothing nasty about making a stand, albeit in a rather cordial manner. In this approach where interpersonal relationships matter, maturity as a believer will demonstrate its full bloom. Those who witness this could end up with two conclusions. They either acknowledge the presence of a spiritually grown-up individual and possibly be inspired. But if it is received in bad taste, no big deal! Time to move on.
The same sad story is amplified in the day and age we live in. The minions of the wicked one are on the prowl, looking for weaklings from the Body of believers to cause more than dents where their faith matters. We are undoubtedly finding many people who call themselves believers but are truly doing the enemy’s bidding. Just as scores accept Christ as their Saviour, there is also the other side of the coin – the crowd that loses their faith, all because of wrong signals sent by counterfeit Christians!
Once in the Body of Christ, the believer has to undertake the good fight. It could imply moments whereby firmness alongside shrewdness is needed – more so when the adversary knows that the ante has to be upped in time that is running out. Herein lies one crucial requirement – we have to let the Holy Spirit call the shots versus our emotions. It boils down to our minute-by-minute walk with the Lord. It can be quite a tough call in practice; all too often, we are swayed by our emotions if not our gut feelings. But this is surely not an unattainable tall order – we need to pray fervently versus beat around the bush with babbling and mumbling!
Let those who are stronger in the faith uphold a weaker brother or sister in the Lord so that he or she will not take a misstep that will have a negative impact on the Body. That they will not be hoodwinked by the wicked one. In this way, let there be a significant gain in numbers where the Bride of Christ is concerned.
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