“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NIV
What does it mean to be like sheep among wolves? I was curious so I began to look at articles about wolves. It was quite interesting.
Fear. Two articles I read referenced large kills with headlines like “ Two Wolves Kill 176 Sheep in One Night.” The headline struck a chord of terror in me. As I read more I learned that only one sheep was partially consumed and 10 were bitten. The other 165 sheep killed each other by trampling each other to death when they stampeded in panic. Their fear and their reaction to fear is what did them in. What triggers fear in you? How do you react?
The kill. Wolves do not kill for sport. They kill to sustain themselves. In a spiritual sense, if we do not feed evil and ungodly things, it will move on to easier prey. It is about energy conservation and identifying an easy target. In nature, wolves almost always eat the entire kill. They continue to wander back time and time again until they finish off the carcass. We are to be careful what we feed and not make ourselves an easy target.
What makes us an easy target? Not being in community with other Christians. Participating in activities that are contrary to our new lifestyle in Christ. Not being under the care of a good shepherd. Not feeding ourselves with the nutritious Word of God. Wandering off by ourselves.
Surplus killing. The only time that wolves kill more than they can consume (and it is rare) is when they have an unusual advantage – again, energy conservation and an easy target. One example is in livestock. When wolves encounter a herd of cattle, they are dealing with prey that has lost its survival instinct. Instead of fleeing when danger is near, they often linger nearby out of curiosity, making them an easy target. The second example is sheep. When sheep become frightened they tend to run in circles instead of fleeing. That triggers a predatory response in wolves that results in multiple kills.
Have you lost your survival instinct? Do you flee from evil? How do you trigger predatory behavior? Are you helpless, running around in circles, or armed with the Word of God?
The hunt. It is riskier for wolves to hunt than other predators such as a bear or mountain lion. They do not have the strength to over power or speed to take advantage of the element of surprise. They have to hunt in packs, wear their prey down, and look for vulnerabilities. 80-90% of the time their kills fail. Often they are fatally wounded in the process – gored by antlers, kicked by a hoof. When one or two of their prey become weary, their objective is to separate them from the herd.
This really gave me pause. What do we do with our weary? Do we run ahead in fear, leaving them behind? Or do we circle them and protect them from a predator? If we truly understand the power and authority we have in Christ and truly understand the vulnerabilities of our enemy, we will stand in numbers and protect each other. We won’t leave a member of our herd behind to be vulnerable to a predator. We will fatally wound the enemy! We will fight using the tools God gave us, to keep our herd safe. We will walk in the love of God. We will pray. We will lift our weary up in encouragement. We will be diligent. To me, it is in the fight where we show up shrewd as snakes and gentle as doves. We are shrewd in fighting the enemy. We are gentle and loving with our own.
Father, help me know when to be shrewd and when to be gentle. Teach me how use Your tools victoriously.