The dove is one of the most docile animals in the world. Even the sound they make denotes peace and calm. They don’t attack other animals as some birds do. Jesus tells us to be as gentle as a dove while we are in the world while at the same time being as wise as a serpent. The world is full of wolves, but if we take Jesus’ advice, we will survive.
Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Jesus warned his disciples that life after he was gone would be tough. The world would hate them because of his name. Because of this, he told them to be shrewd as serpents yet as innocent as a dove. When you unpack this, you find some excellent advice on how to live your daily life.
Be as shrewd as a serpent. Whenever we think of snakes, we think of creatures that slither on the ground looking to bite us. We also may think of Satan in the garden who deceived Adam and Eve. Why would Jesus tell us to be as shrewd as snakes if there isn’t much good in them? It’s simple really. Another word for shrewd is wisdom. A snake has to be wise because everyone is trying to kill him. We need to be wise in avoiding harm and staying away from temptation.
At the same time, we need to be as innocent as doves. This is our outward demeanor. When we are attacked and persecuted our response should be like a dove. We need to stay away from retaliation. As a follower of Jesus, it is an honor to suffer persecution. Our response to those who attack us should be to pray for them. There are people out there who want nothing else but to make a Christian’s life miserable. Endure it patiently because those who do will be saved.