A few weeks ago, we reflected on the first part of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10:16 before he sent the twelve disciples out on a short-term mission trip. I would like to revisit the verse and focus on the second part of the teaching this week.
In this verse, after telling the disciples that while they are out in the mission field, they should "be as shrewd as snakes," (NIV) he continues to say that they should be "as innocent as doves." His teaching raises a question: when and to whom a Christian should be shrewd like a snake and vice versa?
Read further down, and we'll see that Jesus gave us answers to these questions. He says in verse 17-18 that the disciples (and us) will face trials and oppression because of his name. Then he teaches his followers not to "worry about what to say or how to say it," because the Holy Spirit will speak through us. (v.19-20) This is a difficult teaching for anyone to follow. It is our human nature to defend ourselves, and that is when we need to be "as innocent as doves" to the promise of Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts gives us plenty of examples, be it Peter and John in 4:1-22, the apostles in 5:27-41, Stephen in chapter 8, or Paul in 16:19-40, we notice how wise their answers and how brave their attitude was to their persecutors. Those were the merits of their obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and trusted Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10:16.
If we trust the faithfulness of God, and attend to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He will speak through us. Innocently follow the Holy Spirit, and He will make us "as shrewd as snakes" when facing persecutions.
Share with your partner if you ever experienced the similar situation as recorded in the Book of Acts. Pray for each other that we will have enough faith to trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit in times of trouble.