Matthew 10:16 – I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (NIV)
Many mornings, my husband and I enjoy watching birds come to feed outside our window. Among them, we see doves, moving about gently and quietly. They never harass the smaller birds or fight with each other. They emanate an aura of peace. No wonder the dove has become a symbol of peace.
One morning, the tranquility was disturbed. We looked out and saw on the ground a small hawk standing with its claws firmly gripped into the body of an unlucky dove. Although the two birds were nearly equal in size, they were clearly no equal match. The hawk, true to its nature, had attacked and killed the dove. For the next hour, we watched this hawk greedily feast on its prey — plucking away the feathers and gorging on the flesh.
That’s nature — a constant battle between predators and prey. Sadly, this same pattern has characterized much of human history. We experience it ourselves. Predator-like people are everywhere. At some point, we may find ourselves victimized or targeted by one — perhaps without realizing it (at first). Jesus warned us about people who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”. (Matthew 7:15 NIV) They are masters at playing on guilt — while lacking it themselves.
The hawk attack in my backyard reminds me of a recent experience in which I felt like prey. I saw little chance of rising above the situation — whether by peaceful placating or by firm resistance. During that experience, I found myself empathizing with characters in the Bible like the psalmists and the apostles, who experienced the grip of predators without possessing any means, apart from God, of rising above their circumstance.
Since Bible times, many of God’s people have suffered like the dove in my backyard. Even if they could have found a way to attack and overpower their “enemy” they did not do so. Why? Because they possessed the nature of a dove. That was their identity through their union with Christ. They could not be something they were not. They could not become a hawk.
So it is for you and me. If we are truly in Christ, any hawk-like behaviour is outside of our nature. Remember, our old ways of self-interest and self-management were put to death with Christ. Now, God is our defence and protector. We trust Him to empower us to live courageously with the shrewdness of a snake and the innocence of a dove among people who perpetually strive against each other.
Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, our weak faith often tempts us to betray our identity in Christ, and through our actions, to bring dishonour to Your name. We have at times recoiled in fear or attacked in self-defence. We do not justify this behaviour, no matter how wrong our opponent has been towards us. Rather, we humbly turn to You and accept Your forgiveness. Work in us that we may be faithful “doves” of peace and forgiveness — no matter the cost. Amen.
Kincardine, Ontario, Canada
Thanks to PresbyCan Daily Devotional