One thing I've learned about Jesus after almost six years of walking with Him?
He's so much fun to be around.
He's the type of person you would want to invite to your wedding, like the couple did in John chapter 2. He's the guy where even little kids feel comfortable being around Him. Jesus is the type of person that has some of the most notorious sinners in His region wanting to sit and eat with Him. And, all throughout my six years of walking with Him, I've made it a point to be just like Him—to be just as humble, just as kind, just as loving, and I often pray to Him that every day He would show me how.
But, going further in our relationship, I've learned that Jesus is a whole lot more than the light that brightens up every room He walks in. In fact, I could go on forever about how awesome He is and still not even scratch the surface. However, John sums up the total character of Jesus pretty well in John 1, specifically verse 14.
The verse says:
"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Note that John did not write "full of grace and a tad bit of truth."
Nor did he write "full of truth and a little grace."
John made it very clear:
Grace and truth—meaning, both exist at the same time.
In other words, Jesus never came with one without the other.
And, being that I decided six years ago to model my life after Him, seeing how Jesus operated in both grace and truth all throughout the gospels reminds me that I should operate in both too. It encourages me to wear more than just the mere title of a believer. I should be a disciple instead. And, one thing I know about disciples is that they don't sit still and look pretty. Disciples follow Jesus. They do the things He does. They have a cross to carry; they die to themselves daily. They're not benchwarmers; they're in the game. They get their hands dirty and dare to live out their faith even if it's unpopular. And, if I want to be a disciple and follow Him well in today's world, I better know what to do, which is why the instructions Jesus gives to His twelve disciples in Matthew 10, specifically in verse 16, are commands I don't take lightly.
In this verse, Jesus says this:
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves."
And, can I be honest with you, readers?
My "innocent as doves" to "shrewd as snakes" ratio is far from equal.
I feel like I've got the "innocent as doves" portion down pretty good.
But to be as shrewd as a snake?
Boy, do I need some work.
After dealing with conviction from Holy Spirit about the way I love people a while back, I became all the more intentional about being the best representation of Christ I could be. I want people to feel His love in the way I write, talk, act, and even text! I even tattooed a reminder to love people on my forearm so I'd never forget! (But, most importantly, Romans 12:9 is tattooed on my heart.) Even further, I can recall the many moments I've asked Him to show me how to be more patient—not to mention the moments I've asked Him to show me how to be more of a peacemaker, even my request of Him showing me how to be more fun! And, praying these prayers for about six years now, He's been faithful in showing me the best examples on how to be these things well.
However, after many years of asking God to show me how to be more loving, more patient, and more kind, for the first time ever, I'm asking Him to show me shrewd.
If you want the truth, this is something I never thought I would pray.
Because that's the one characteristic of Jesus I didn't think I'd need.
And, the only reason why I convinced myself I didn't need shrewdness is because I had mistaken His command to be shrewd as a call to be rude.
Let me make it clear, readers:
The two are not alike.
The Google definition of shrewd is "having or showing sharp powers of judgment; astute."
The Google definition of rude is "offensively impolite or ill-mannered."
See the difference?
So, before all you disciples get excited about getting your sword out, you may want to check with Holy Spirit to help you exercise the difference.
Being shrewd is being wise, sharp, savvy. It's not being mean. It's being smart.
And, while being both shrewd and innocent seems like an impossible concept to grasp for many (starting with myself), Jesus showed us from the very beginning that He is full of another seemingly opposite set: grace and truth. And, if He can be grace and truth, I need to know how to be shrewd and innocent.
However, don't get me wrong:
The "innocent as doves" command isn't going away. I can't forget that Jesus said in John 13:35 that the love we have for one another is proof that we are His disciples!
But, could it be that in the same way I pray to be more loving like Him, I should pray to be more shrewd like Him too?
Because if I'm going to move forward in ministry and be a kingdom agent in the world, I can't let the world be more shrewd than my own Savior is calling me to be.
Which is why I've been praying this prayer now more than ever:
"In the same way I want to know how to love like You, Jesus, show me how to be shrewd like You too."
Show me wisdom.
Show me how to operate in grace and truth.
Show me how to say no when I need to and how to be firm when I do.
Show me how to sniff out manipulation.
Show me how to deal with someone who's not treating me right.
Show me when to speak up and when to be quiet.
Show me how to deal with dishonesty.
Show me how to tell when I'm being taken advantage of.
Show me how to deal with conflict.
I'm not praying for paranoia, readers. I'm praying for shrewdness. If I'm going to be a sheep in a pack of wolves, I'm going to need it!
I've nervously laughed a lot away and swallowed quite a few honest words down trying to be as innocent as a dove, but I'm at a point in my life where I need God to show me shrewd.
To show me how to be shrewd in ministry.
Show me shrewd in my relationships.
Show me shrewd in hard conversations.
Show me shrewd in my career.
Show me shrewd in networking opportunities.
Show me shrewd in every platform.
Because I've shown love, I've shown patience, I've shown innocence. But, I have to hold on tight to Holy Spirit so He can help me show shrewdness too.
So as I surrender to Him in this new season, learning how to be shrewd like Him in the same way I'm learning to love like Him, perhaps—as a disciple of Jesus Christ—you find yourself wanting to pray this too.
Just because we're children of God doesn't mean we shouldn't be as shrewd as snakes. Just because we follow Jesus doesn't mean we have to be naive.
He's still calling His disciples to be shrewd and innocent.
He still wants the church to operate in grace and truth.
So, show us, Lord! Show us the shrewd You've commanded Your disciples to be. Help us to follow Your example. Show us how to be shrewd well.
Because while it is true our world needs disciples who love like Jesus, the urgent task of spreading the gospel needs disciples who are shrewd like Him too.