Day 6 ~ Wise as Serpents and Harmless as Doves

Day 6 ~ Wise as Serpents and Harmless as Doves

Day 6 ~ Wise as Serpents and Harmless as Doves

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16


There are so many similes going on in this one verse! Sheep. Wolves. Serpents. Doves. Let’s try and unpack the significance of each simile and see how we can apply them in our own lives.




Before we get into the verse, for a little context, this verse follows Jesus calling His 12 disciples. After selecting His disciples, He instructs them to go to the people of Israel to preach and to heal.


This verse is rightly split in two. The first half, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” is a factual statement, a reality. The second half, “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” is an expectation. Although we are as defenseless as sheep in the midst of a community as dangerous as wolves, we are called upon to be as wise as serpents yet harmless as doves.


Wow, that’s a lot of Similes!


Sheep among Wolves


The flesh, the world, and the devil, our trifold enemies are watching and waiting as hungry wolves ready to devour us any moment. In the midst of these enemies, we are being sent as meek, defenseless sheep. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8We are after all just a sheep, you might wonder. How are we going to survive such an aggressive enemy? Enter, the second half of Matthew 10:16 with a personal  “how-to” recommendation from Jesus Christ Himself.


Understanding Serpents and Doves


Serpents have been referred to in the Bible as clever, crafty and wise. They’ve been known to exhibit prudence with regard to their own safety when they slip away and hide easily when approached, hunt stealthily for their prey and hurt or bite when invaded. Doves, on the other hand, are ambassadors of peace and reconciliation.


Biblical Similes - Wise as Serpents and Harmless as Doves



How to be both?


The instruction is never to be either a serpent or a dove. The ask is for us to be both. To be a believer is to be both wise and innocent. To be an ambassador of good and a mitigator of evil. It is to do both with a perfect balance. “I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:19Notice how the word and appears again here in another verse. How many times have we fallen out of balance by focusing on one side of the equation?



Pauls words to Romans makes it all the more clear. Be wise and prudent like the serpents and keep yourself safe by doing what is good. Be innocent and unadulterated with evil just like the doves. Do both in a perfect harmony. And like everything else, we cannot do this without the help of God. So let’s ask Him to show us the way.



Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1, p. 60). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Photo by Dishan Jeremiah

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I enjoy learning from God’s word, it amazes me, the wisdom and treasures of God and the way He reveals them to me day after day in a profound manner. In this space I share with you what I’ve learnt through my time with the Word. I earnestly believe that learning alone isn’t sufficient but walking in the word is crucial in a believer’s life. As much as I desire to walk in the word, it’s not always easy. My hope is to encourage you, my dear friend, in your walk with God with words that He has used to strengthen my own walk with Him.


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