Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves
Deep inside of me lurks a mercy gift that I have cursed more than once. I empathize with others easily. This feeds into my tendency to fight for underdogs, cheer the cheerless, trust too easily, and too much generosity in giving of the benefit of the doubt. Because of this, I’ve had many run-ins with serpents, and at times, it has made me cynical and suspicious. I have learned how to wield my gift properly, as a serpent. I sometimes feel the cynicism and critical ways try to creep in. I remind myself that cynicism doesn’t protect us. It only closes us off and robs us of the joy and pleasure of relationships. So how can we find that balance to be, as Jesus put it, “Wise as serpents and innocent as doves?”
“Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves [have no self-serving agenda].Matthew 10:16
God tells us to be sober and awake, to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. We achieve this through using balance and self-discipline. How does that look? We still enjoy life, but we take inventory of our weaknesses and don’t let emotions carry us away. What is your desperate need? To be loved, rescued, taken care of, protected, or is it money, status, honor, attention? Any of these are weaknesses are an open door that can be exploited. Many of them come from hurt, insecurities, fear, or a desire for control. If we ignore these, we can get caught up in the trappings (Charm, promises, passion, looks, and status) of a person. Have you ever heard, “If something seems too good to be true, it often is?” If someone suddenly seems to be the answer to all of your prayers, meets all of your needs, you might want to step back away from your needs, dreams, and their influence and pray and watch.
Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. The devil seeking who he may devour1 Peter 5:8
Fruit Starts with the Root
Watch for fruit. Fruit comes from branches that merge to a trunk, but it all gets its start and strength from the roots. Actions and results, and not words, reveal the true character of a person. The serpent deceived Adam and Eve through words. We must protect ourselves by being fruit inspectors. I’ve learned not to get carried away with the whirlwind of a person before seeing the actual fruit in their life, not just what they present. A few good questions to ask might be, do they have long-term relationships in their lives? Have they held a job for a long time? Do they blame their past (ex, parents, bosses, and teachers) for their lot in life? We don’t deny suffering, but if someone uses others as a scapegoat or to make themselves look strong, open your eyes. Those things are often a signal of bad fruit. I always watch how people treat others who can do nothing for them.
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Matthew 7:16-19
Watch and Listen
You will soon find the fruit of a person’s life bearing fruit in yours. If you find yourself anxious, angry, pulling away from family, God, and close friends, you need to back away from that person. They won’t want you to do this, they can only keep you under their spell by their overwhelming presence in every part of your life. They know that if you have time and space to think, you will be on to them. You may feel loved and lavished with attention, but that’s how they keep you under their spell. If you are feeling negative to those who love you and have been there for you, take note. Are you becoming extra critical of those who have had your back all of your life? Are you feeling bitter and anxious and more secure and even confused? That is no accident. You might be in the middle of a manipulative plan. No man (or woman) is meant to be our savior, only God. When we set people up to be our all in all, we become vulnerable.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.Luke 6:45
Wisdom and Protection
There is good news! There’s always a way out, but to walk out, you need wisdom. Back away for a bit and spend some time on our own thinking and praying. If we mess up or find ourselves in one of these relationships, we can ask God for his helped. He came to set us free and doesn’t want to see us trapped. God knows we are flawed, this is why he sent Jesus who offers forgiveness and protection. If we don’t know what to do, he will provide direction. He is the God who saves, protects, and heals. He came to set us free from sin and death, and he’s faithful to help us out of the messes in our lives. Ask him today for his help. He desires your freedom and will get you through.
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,Proverbs 2:12-13
from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,