Matthew 10:16 "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before
them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant
above his master.
"Behold" is a word we do not use much anymore. It means, "Listen up." Jesus desires us to pay close attention to the instruction He is about to give. We need to take this instruction very seriously. Notice where we are sent to work. We are sent to work among wolves. The howls of wolves strike fear into a person without weapons that is caught out in the open. We are sheep among wolves.
Since we are like sheep among wolves we need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. The word wise means "to be prudent". Prudent means to know the future results of our present actions (Proverbs 27:12). The serpent thought through what his current actions would accomplish in the future when he tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden (Genesis 3:1ff). The same word is used of the unjust servant in Luke 16:8. He acted unjustly by decreasing what people owed his master so he would have their support in the future. Jesus is commanding us to live now in a way that will accomplish our preferred future, to win as many to the Lord as we possibly can. We are to live innocent as doves. The word "innocent" means to be pure. Paul uses the word in Philippians 2:15 to describe what the Christian who doesn't complain in the midst of persecution will be like in a crooked and twisted (perverted) generation - "pure", "innocent".
As we go in among the wolves, people hostile towards Jesus Christ, we are to use every resource we have been given in Christ to win people to faith in Christ. We are to live lives free from habits of sin by faith in Christ so people get a clear picture of who Christ is by seeing how we live and what we do. We are as equal to our assignment as a sheep is equal to living among wolves. Recognizing our weakness, we are to depend totally upon Jesus Christ as we go about completing what we are sent to do - seek and save the lost. We depend upon Jesus Christ by learning what He teaches us and living it out by faith in Him, that is, by attempting to obey Him relying upon Him to fulfill our attempt by His power. Sheep plus Jesus are more powerful than a pack of wolves.
Compare how you are living with how Jesus is teaching us to live. Are there any changes or growth you need to make? Make them by using the divine power He has given. We access the divine power by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave himself up for us (Galatians 2:20). Note: begin making the changes now.