“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
This is a warning that Jesus gave to believers that, unfortunately, His followers have neglected to follow time and again. From long before Jesus’ day right up until today, we see people willfully neglect this all-too-important caution.
In every society, we have to coexist with a ruling class. No matter how the politics of any nation works, there will always be wealthy, politically savvy people who want to be in control. Sometimes they are born with those traits and sometimes they earn them, but it is always the wealthy who have power. In America, some are born with wealth and political power and others work hard for it, but they both share one thing in common:
They do not deserve our trust.
Learning Not To Trust
The moment someone involves themselves in political leadership, from the smallest city government to the highest offices in our nation, they must be viewed with an eye of skepticism. They can never prove their trustworthiness again. They have forever lost their credibility. But alas, so few people view politicians this way.
When there is little incentive to lie, people generally don’t do it. When something isn’t worth stealing, it rarely is. But when something has value, it is a prime target for thieves. Lies abound when they advance the agenda of those telling them. As soon as someone becomes a politician, or places themselves in the pocketbooks of them, they become untrustworthy, not because they themselves are proven thieves, but because so many before them have been unable to refrain from taking what wasn’t theirs or lying to get it.
Shrewd As Dinner
Christians fall into this trap way too often because they so badly want to believe the very thing that Jesus warned us about in Matthew 10. There are wolves out there, so we must be wise because those wolves love the taste of sheep. Christians convince themselves all the time that those wolves have switched sides and have become sheep like us.
Christians pray and pray for God to move and intervene in the affairs of politics and business, and when we gain the thoughtful and affectionate ear of a politician or wealthy business leader, we claim spiritual victory. We choose to believe lies because we want to believe them so badly. But there is a solution.
We must be shrewd as snakes—the very snakes who love to lie to us about things like being “pro-life” or having “family-values.” How many times have you seen those lies exposed compared to how often they live up to them?
We should keep praying for God to intervene. We should ask God to send us godly politicians and business leaders who follow Him with all their hearts, souls, mind and strength, but we should also choose to make those kinds of evaluations only with hindsight. Let’s wait to anoint God’s chosen politicians for after they retire from politics. (Hmm, why is it that so few Congressmen actually retire?)
Innocence In Failure
To be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves would be to just assume that politicians lie to us—always lie to us—but that we cannot lie to them. We will assume the worst of those who have the most to gain from us, but we will not act in kind. We will not repay evil for evil, lies for lies or theft for theft. We must remain innocent, but shrewd enough to never really trust a politician.
Christians have thrown their support and trust behind wolves in sheep’s clothing in the realm of politics, business and influence more times than anyone can count because they choose to disregard Jesus’ warning. Don’t get me wrong. I want abortion to end and I know we need politicians and financiers to help, but I will never be willing to trust them more than God’s ability to change things through prayer. He is the one who pulls the strings, not them, so no matter how much money and influence they have, my trust cannot be bought.
So, join with me. Choose not to be smitten by the words of politicians. Choose to view them as liars until a lifetime of truth changes your mind. Choose to assume that human nature (greed, lust, anger, etc.) has more of a hold on people than your good intentions for them do. But never lose your innocence. Don’t join in to try and change things. If you can’t change things by staying innocent, be content with failure. Your eternal success with far outweigh your temporary political and business failures. Trust me—and Jesus: hint, read Revelation 21:9-27 here.