Rules of Engagement

Daily Devotional: Day 62

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, RSV).

Discipleship isn’t optional for Christians; it’s a requirement. This means, if you’re a Christian, then by default, you have a mission to spread the message of Christ. Our Bible text today is part of Jesus’ instructions to the 12 Apostles whom he sent to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. As a Christian on a mission, you have a clear job description from Jesus, and you take your orders from him. That’s the only way you’ll know what to dohow to do it and when to do it. Moreover, as with every mission, there are rules of engagement. Jesus tells us, as he told the 12 Apostles, that he’s sending us as sheep in the midst of wolves. Let’s discuss this for a moment. Jesus clearly identifies the First Rule of EngagementKnow your target audience. If you’re going to be an effective messenger of the Gospel, it’s important to know your audience, their culture, their background, and their beliefs, and anticipate how your message might be received. Speaking metaphorically, Jesus says that he’s sending us as sheep among wolves. This means he is the Shepherd; we’re his flock; and he’s sending us into hostile territory – the world (wolves). When you preach the Gospel, you’re essentially launching an assault on the kingdom of Satan. You should expect opposition, resistance and persecution; and you should know how to deal with hostility. This brings us to the Second Rule of EngagementAdapt and Adjust.

 Knowing we’re going to deal with ‘wolves,’ Jesus gives us the strategy for engaging our target. He commands us to be wise as serpents. This means, in engaging people with the Gospel, you should be intelligent, smart, and alert like a serpent. Don’t assume that because God is with you, you can play with fire and get away with it. Sometimes you have to run or hide not because you’re afraid, but because you’re wise. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily. Know your exit routes and when to use them if you must exit a situation. Additionally, Jesus says you must be as harmless as a dove. This speaks to your credibility. As a disciple/messenger of Christ, be innocent regarding evil (See Romans 16:19). Keep a clear conscience and maintain your integrity, so that the Enemy has nothing to discredit you. This will give  credibility to your message. Being harmless, however, doesn’t mean you should play dumb and let people take you for granted. Remember: it’s a balancing act between being like a ‘serpent’ and being like a ‘dove.’ You should adapt and adjust as your circumstances change. You’ll get better with prayer and practice. OK. Now you have your marching orders. Go.


Holy Father, thank you for the privilege of being a disciple of Christ. I praise you for giving me the honor of partaking of the Gospel. Grant me wisdom, knowledge and boldness to go out and bear witness for you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Acts 23:1-35

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