As Wise as Serpents | Friday Fun Day!
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my spiritual gifts, and I have been pursuing the gift of prophecy. As I have been reading various books on the prophetic, I have begun to hear the Lord’s voice via revelation. The Lord brought this verse to my recollection. I began to research and break apart this picture, the Lord’s challenge and commission to the twelve. I hear a lot of preachers use this verse as causus belli to do some despicable things. Yes, Satan appeared to the garden of Eden as a serpent. But this verse does not give us permission to be underhanded in any way. This verse elaborates on how an apostle of the Lord should conduct themselves.
Breaking Down the Type of Wise in the Verse
The Greek word used in the new testament in this verse is phronimos which is pronounced fron’-ee-mos. This word occurs fourteen times in the King James Translation of the bible. This word can be defined in the sense that wisdom it denotes implies a cautious or discreet character. Wisdom in the dictionary is defined as
having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment: she seems kind and wise | a wise precaution.• responding sensibly or shrewdly to a particular situation: it would be wise to discuss the matter with the chairman of the committee.• [ predict. ] having knowledge in a specified subject: families wise in the way of hurricane survival.
What is wisdom? What is being wise?
So, the wisdom denoted in the verse is being cautious. We as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are to be wise in being shrewd and cautious. This wisdom does not extend to worldly wisdom or I should say phronimos (the Greek word) does not denote a wisdom in worldly affairs but having discretion and even more so discernment. As I began to think about this verse and exegete it correctly I began to have a light turn on in my head. I began to think about how I’ve heard this verse quoted over the years. And the preachers that have quoted them. God wants us to be both meek and lowly but also wise and cautious.
Discernment and Wisdom
In life, I think the biggest gift one could receive from the father is discernment. It is the opening stages to the prophetic and seer gifts. One must be able to discern and understand what one sees before that person can see or hear it. Operating in the prophetic (not the Pathetic as one of my favorite Christian comedians would say) takes this gift as a pre-requisite. How can you know the voice of God without the gift of discernment?
What about that being Harmless part?
So, while we are to be wise as a serpent lets exegete the other side of the token and coin. We are to be as harmless as doves. The word Harmless used in this part of the text comes from the Greek word akeraios
Pronounced ak-er’-ah-yos. This word does not imply being stupid or letting anything ride. On the contrary, this word simply means innocent. Harmless and simple. This word is only found in the bible three times. Our conduct is to be innocent. We are described on one hand as more than conquerors and on the other as gentle lambs in the New Testament. Why the contradiction? I believe that we are to be bold as believers. We are to walk in faith and be strong in the Lord. However, we are to do these things only out of the best of motives. Have you checked your motives lately?
What are your motives?
I have undergone a situation where I could fly off the handle at someone. I could get super mad at them and do as Kanye would say “Go Ham…” and if you don’t know what Ham means I’m not going to explain it to ya that was from back in the day when I had my club ministry. (Laughing out loud it’s a joke. I’m just telling on myself) lol. But I had to check my motives. Instead of flying off the handle I had to be gentle and kind. Does that mean I’m a punk or going to be punked? Heaven forbid! But it does mean that before I attack someone else or do something underhanded at someone else that I had to check my own motives. Have you had your motives checked?
Lastly, I want to share a bit from a commentary I like to use. This is from J.O. Davies “Sunrise on the Soul.” In regard to the verse I wanted to talk about today.
III. The conduct they were to pursue. (1) Whatever should betide them, they were to remember Him by whom they had been sent. (2) They were to be wise as serpents. The apostle of any movement needs the by no means ordinary combination of zeal and wisdom. (3) They were to be harmless as doves; their wisdom was to be used neither to hurt nor to unnecessarily annoy. Their only concern was to be both harmless and wise, beyond that they had nothing and they had all, for they had God.
Wisdom for the day!