Friday, March 29, 2013

004. Wise Serpents (Part II)

Many of the early apostles and disciples of Christ were killed because of their convictions, sealing their testimonies with their blood. Peter was crucified upside down. Luke was executed on an olive-tree. John was cast into a vessel of scalding oil. Many other reformers, prophets, and righteous individuals have given everything they had, even their own lives for what they believed. All who follow Christ must endure some degree of suffering, if not the deepest of trials. Clearly, there have always been wolves who seek to destroy the work of the Lord. But if serpents carry an overwhelmingly negative or evil connotation in the scriptures, why would Christ instruct His disciples to be as wise as a serpent? The Greek word for wise, phronimos, used by Christ in this verse means practically wise, prudent, sensible, and discerning.

Serpents demonstrate wisdom in both avoiding their enemies and catching their prey. Thus, the disciples of Christ were warned to avoid unnecessary contact or conflict with “wolves” who might try to harm or destroy them. If such conflict or contact were to occur, the disciples should act wisely in handling the situation in a way that would minimize the ability of the “wolves” to succeed in their attack. In other words, the disciples should not seek to provoke or do things that would incite attacks from their enemies, but to share truth and light in a wise and prudent manner, which might even frustrate the designs of the wicked against them.

Snake blending in to surroundings so as not to be noticed, hide from an enemy, or await its prey
A person can be filled with truth and knowledge, yet it is possible to express or share it in an offensive or even harmful manner if they are not careful. They must know their audience, ascertain their level of knowledge and understanding, and present new knowledge in a manner that is digestible and understandable by the recipient. To do so otherwise is foolish and harmful. Does what we say create disorder, dissension, confusion, or strife? If so, what has been shared has not been done so wisely, even if it be "the truth". Or, when we speak of heavenly things are we and others edified, uplifted, or healed? Does the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, attend our conversations? If so, then knowledge has been imparted wisely, and the recipient will know it is from God. Our words should never hurt or offend, they should only bring understanding, healing, and enlightenment.
3 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. James 3
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:19-20
Christ himself set the example. Throughout His ministry He was wise as a serpent in regard to the “wolves” that were seeking His destruction. Christ did not seek to provoke conflicts with them. If opposition to his preaching and service became too intense, he would depart from the vicinity for a time. He knew how to answer their attacks and at the same time expose their designs. Matthew 21 and 22 provide several examples of this approach. Christ understood that the “wolves” who sought his destruction were those among the religious establishment of His day, and not the common people (Mark 12:37 - ...And the common people heard him gladly), the poor, the rejected, or the sick among whom He labored. From these, Christ won their trust, and on various occasions the people's support protected Jesus from the wolves' attacks.
12. And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way. Mark 12
47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, 48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him. Luke 19

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