Matthew 10:16 – I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (NIV)
In my years of being involved in missions in my local church, there have been many interesting encounters with people whom the church attempted to help. There have been many times we've been face to face with "wolves" who have made our church look foolish, but it never did us any real harm. It is better to err on the side of faith and love, than not to try at all.
One time, a young couple came through town. The woman was about six months pregnant. We were led to believe they needed a place to live and become established to avoid having the baby taken away from them at birth. The church helped them to get an apartment, furnished it, and gave them a supply of food. One night, some of their friends came through town. The neighbours complained the group partied all night long. Before leaving town with the friends the next morning, the young man ordered flowers for his wife's birthday, charging them to our local pastor. At least, we all decided, he was sentimental and remembered his wife's birthday!
Sometimes when the church attempts to help, that's as far as we get. Should we stop trying because we've been made to look foolish? By no means! Jesus knew Christians would encounter wolves such as these. As members of Christ's church, we are called to reach out and to help others as we see the need.
From this experience, the church learned to be as shrewd as snakes in dealing with the needy, but to attempt to remain as doves in seeing the needs of others.
Prayer: Lord, You didn't promise to protect us from the wolves; You only warned us to be aware of them. Keep our hearts open to the needs of others, but make us as shrewd as snakes in our undertaking. Guide and direct us as we attempt to do Your work. Amen.