“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (v.16)
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only faith that dares to say to its followers: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves” (AV). It is as if Jesus is saying: “You will have as much chance of escaping difficulties and opposition as sheep have in the midst of wolves.” If you are a Christian, you can expect people to oppose you – even hurt you. Notice what I say: “hurt” you, but not “harm” you. Sometimes God may not protect us from being hurt, but He will protect us from being harmed. One writer puts that same thought in this way: “At times God may suffer His children to be attacked, but providing they are fully abandoned to Him and His purposes, He will never suffer them to be injured.” He is using the words “attack” to mean physical or verbal abuse, and “injury” to mean the scarring of the soul. In that sense, no attack from without can injure us; we can only be injured from within by wrong perspectives and wrong choices. Some time ago I quoted a maxim that goes like this: “No man is safe unless he can stand anything that happens to him.” A young student wrote to me and said: “Then there aren’t many people who are ‘safe’ – are there?” I point you now to another verse to lay alongside our text for today: “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd” (Rev. 7:17, RSV). Christ’s being on the throne is the pledge that we, too – somehow, some way – shall pass out of the midst of the “wolves” of people and things, to victory over both.
Lord Jesus, Master of every situation – even on a cross where You dispensed forgiveness to Your crucifiers – give me this mastery over circumstances. Help me to see I am not beaten until I am beaten within. Amen.