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Matthew 10:16

Go as Sheep

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


I am a Pro Bowl quality, armchair quarterback! I have never been in a football game, except as part of the halftime show, but, when the games are on TV, I just seem to naturally know everything the coaches and players should be doing. You know the type.

One of the things that I have learned is that too much confidence will destroy a team. It is not unusual for the team with the best winning record to lose to the team with the poorest record. Overconfidence makes them vulnerable, and desperation makes the weaker team more dangerous.

Jesus was sending His team onto a playing field with a virtual guarantee for victory. They would have the power, which they had seen Jesus wield, to heal illnesses and to cast out devils.

"Behold," He said, "Be careful! The illnesses are not dangerous to you neither are devils, but you will be in danger from the people."

Sheep are pretty helpless and very stupid animals. They are almost totally dependent on their shepherd and they are certainly no match for a pack of ravenous wolves. The twelve disciples were going to be like sheep. They had never done this without their Shepherd. They did not understand the wickedness that can dwell in the hearts of men. An abundance of confidence in the midst of unseen danger made them very vulnerable.

Of course, nothing was going to happen to them, but, they needed to be aware of the risks involved in their mission. An awareness of their surroundings would become essential in the future, when the Shepherd would have left this world, and the wolves would attack.

Ministers know very well how wolves can hide themselves, disguised as friends, supporters, Christian brethren etc., waiting for the opportunity to pounce on their prey. One minister told me that the first thing a shepherd must learn is that sheep bite. This is true, but the ones that bite are the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Jesus wanted His team to be cautiously wise. Most serpents shy away from trouble, using cunning to camouflage themselves, warn off an approaching enemy, and flee whenever they can. They only become dangerous when they feel threatened.

The disciples, however, were to remain sheep. Harmless as doves, and always in need of the Shepherd. They were told to learn how to behave prudently, so as to avoid unnecessary trouble. Striking back like a serpent or even using deception were not among their options.

Every Christian must learn the same tact. We must be careful not to offend anyone with anything but the gospel truth. Trouble will raise its head when we least expect it, but we must never strike back, never return evil for evil. Your enemies will come as choir members, church brethren, and even as pastors. They will be wolves in sheep's clothing.

While we try to win people for Christ, the wolves will start arguments over such things as what the color of the new church carpeting should be. They will turn church members one against the other over insignificant matters and distract them from their calling and purpose. Outside the church, they will make false accusations, make the gospel sound foolish or evil and will cause every kind of trouble possible for you.

You must at all times be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Before The Throne:

Pray for the wisdom to recognize those who would damage your ministry and to avoid trouble. Ask God to give you the faith to forgive them. Ask for the patience, love and wisdom to deal with the enemy in a godly way. Pray that He would keep you close to your Shepherd Jesus Christ with whom you are eternally safe.

For Further Study:

(v.16)
** as sheep. Luke 10:3; Acts 20:29; ** wise. Gen 3:1, 13; Luke 21:15; Rom 16:19; 1Cor 14:20; 2Cor 11:3, 14; Eph 5:15-17; Col 1:9; Col 4:5; harmless. or, simple. Rom 16:18-19; 2Cor 1:12; 2Cor 8:20; 2Cor 11:3; Phil 2:15; 1Thess 2:10; 1Thess 5:22;

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