Here’s some wisdom for living from some youngsters. “Never trust a dog to watch your food.” (Patrick, age 10) “When you want something expensive, ask your grandparents.” (Matt, age 12) “Never smart off to a teacher whose eyes and ears are twitching.” (Andy, age 9) “Never try to hide a piece of broccoli in your milk.” (Rosemary, age 7) “Don’t flush the toilet when your dad’s in the shower.” (Lamar, age 10) “When your dad is mad and asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer him.” (Heather, age 16) “When you get a bad grade, show it to your mom when she’s on the phone.” (Alyesha, age 13)
Is that not the way the world works? With some bumps and bruises along the way, these youngsters have already learned that it’s well to understand how things work around here.
So Jesus observed when he told his disciples to “be wise as serpents.” The world can be a harsh place, and it is well to understand how it works.
But Jesus wants more of us than shrewdness. So to his “serpent” directive he added another, that we’re to be “innocent as doves.” It seems an odd pairing: “wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” But Jesus knew that shrewdness and scheming are not the same thing. We can know the ways of the world without living by the values of the world.
Jesus wants us to be effective – wise as serpents. So study up. Observe the world around you and what’s current in the culture. But know that Jesus wants you to be effective for him – innocent as doves. Such character is formed in us by God, as we are presented to him through the various disciplines of the faith, such as worship, study, prayer, fellowship, and service.
God’s intention with you is to do worldly-wise one better.
May it be so!