Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16, ESV).
Know any people who are “wise as serpents” or, in some translations, “shrewd as snakes” (NIV)? Who comes to mind—a savvy business manager, a wily investor, a friend with an uncanny acumen? Those who are wise or shrewd often navigate business adeptly and earn the respect of those around them. Jesus wants us to be shrewd.
Shrewd means astute, sharp, clever, discerning, rigorous in practical matters. Some Christians can be described as “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” In other words, we lack shrewdness. Jesus was noticeably worked up about this problem. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8, ESV). He did not mean this as a compliment to His followers. He expects us to be wise and shrewd in our dealings with this world.
Jesus commands both shrewdness and innocence in our daily living. When you consider those two desired traits, how would you assess yourself? Are you a shrewd, wise-as-a-snake person who needs to work on your dove (love) trait? Or are you more of a loving, caring person who needs to work on your snake side (shrewdness)? Both are required.
In essence Jesus was saying, “The majority of My kids are on the dove program—strong in the love thing. But I get tired of seeing them run over by people. I want them to turn up their shrewdness.”
So how do we up our shrewdness? Jesus told us, “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9, ESV). One practical, shrewd use of wealth (meaning your possessions, not just your currency) involves making friends. Utilize what God has given you. Don’t hoard. Use what you have to help those around you and forge friendships.
Do you have a car? With pandemic restrictions easing, you might pick up some kids in the neighborhood and transport them to a weekly church activity. Or offer a ride to someone who can’t get out to church. Creative carpooling can be a first step in developing an influential relationship.
Do you have a house or a condo? Do you have extra space where you live? You might share your home with someone in need for a period of time. You could host a Bible study or prayer group. Opening your home and showing hospitality is a way to use what you have to benefit others.
Do your neighbors know they can borrow your things and ask for your help? Or would they describe you and your family as isolated?
Whatever you have, use it for the Lord. Someday, you may meet some friends in heaven who will say, “I’ve been waiting for you to get here! You used what you had and it enriched my life. You’re part of the reason I’m here.”
This isn’t optional. Jesus expects us to be wise and shrewd stewards of everything we have, to help others and forge relationships—with His kingdom in mind.
Father God, thank You that Jesus’ teaching is so practical and relevant. He didn’t sit in an ivory tower. He worked as a carpenter, recruited fishermen and tax collectors, and got dirt in His sandals. Because He lived on this earth, He gets it. He knows how to relate to people best. Lord, I know I need to work on my [snake/dove] side. Please show me specific ways I can be [shrewd/loving]. Help me to use the possessions and wealth you’ve given me to help others and forge relationships with eternity in mind. In the sure name of Jesus I pray, amen.