See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew10:16, NRSV)
This means that, as transformed followers of the Way, we are not called to be ignorant, gullible, or stupid. We are supposed to be on the lookout for trouble and protect one another as we group together in fellowship, like a flock. As I recover from compulsive overeating, I am tempted to address my character defects and wish them completely away, but judgmental transformed is not gullible; it’s discerning. The difference is how I treat people.
If Person X is suffering of spiritual sickness accompanied with diarrhea of the mouth and I treat her like a leper or attack her like a virus, I am being judgmental. The recovering Christ-follower, however, welcomes, includes, shares hope, seeks to understand, and comes alongside to accompany the wayward life out of the swamp of self, all while maintaining due caution to avoid being pulled down into the mire themselves.
“Shrewd as serpents” another translation says. I have heard it described as “In the world, but not of it.” Revelation 3:4 commends the Church of Sardis for having a few people who have not soiled their white spiritual clothes. These were called “worthy” and promised fellowship with the One who sent the Revelation.
Dear Father, today, I confess that the worldly experiences I’ve had tend to make me bitter and resentful. Grant me peace to keep the lessons of my hurts but let go of the regrets. Turn my pain into passion, and use it to empower me to help tend the rest of the flock. Help me share my experience so that others might avoid my encounters with trouble. Help me live in such a way as not to sully the white robe You repeatedly wash in the blood of the Lamb, so that I will be welcome in His company.