Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.
With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
I wrestled with the subject of today's devotion. Cunning is hardly a Christian call-out. Shrewdness is hardly a Christian virtue, but it can be an asset, 'In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes' (2 Corinthians 2:11).
I do not advise a child of the King to be like His enemy--but to be ready to beat the enemy--at his own game. Because Jesus surely beat Satan. As His disciples, we are commissioned to follow suit.
While on earth, our King played many roles and worked earth's system with Master precision. He engineered a fate He did not want, but others would need: His crucifixion. Regarding evangelism, Jesus told His disciples to be as shrewd/wise/cunning as serpents. Consider it:
'For the most part it (the serpent) appears in Scripture as representing an evil wisdom to be fought with and overcome. Here we learn that even the serpent's sinuous craft presents something which we may well learn to reproduce. When St. Paul 'caught men with guile' (2 Corinthians 12:16), becoming 'all things to all men' (1 Corinthians 9:22), he was acting in the spirit of his Master's counsels.' (Ellicott's Commentary on Matthew 10:16). Or as Matthew Henry puts it, we 'need the serpent's wisdom' *
Actors, models and talent for Christ: When necessary, David used cunning. After years of hiding from King Saul's madness, after twice refusing revenge against him, David fled to Philistia. For sixteen months, he lived a double life. He served Israel's enemy and Israel at the same time. Once done, God made a way for David to go home to the honor he deserved.
As David lived among enemies, so did Jesus, and so must you. Therefore, learn their ways. When necessary, serve their kings and your King at the same time. Speak the truth, but use finesse: 'extreme delicacy or subtlety in action; skill in handling a difficult or highly sensitive situation' (Random House Dictionary). David, Jesus and Paul gave us examples.**
Right now, the stage is set for your witness to rise. So work earth's system with your Master's precision. Once done, not only will you go home to a victory celebration, but millions may go with you.
## Valiant! Like David: Cunning (Part 22)
* Commentaries on Matthew 10:16: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/10-16.htm
** David answered King Ashish of Philistine with ingenious redirection:
'Now it happened in those days that the Philistines gathered their armies together for war, to fight with Israel. And Achish said to David, 'You assuredly know that you will go out with me to battle, you and your men.' So David said to Achish, 'Surely you know what your servant can do' ' (1 Samuel 28:1-2).
** Jesus repeatedly answered the Scribes and Pharisees with ingenious redirection:
' 'Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard that, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick' ' (Matthew 9:11-12).
'When they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first' ' (John 8:7).
' 'Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?'... And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' ' (Mark 12:14-17).
NOTE: This series is a republished edit of a 2014 series called, Valiant Like David. In these devotions, you may see notes to 'Actors, Models & Talent for Christ.' I have not changed this designation. Because in a greater sense, every disciple of Christ acts for Christ, models Christ and stewards His talents, from which God expects a profit.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Valiant! Like David series.