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Snakes and Doves

by Elizabeth (Betty) Gillaspie

I don’t like spiders and snakes……. Do you?  Actually, I can step on a spider, but there is NO WAY I am going to step on a snake, on purpose that is. Yet, in Matthew 10, Jesus gave instructions to be shrewd as snakes (NIV).  The American Standard Version says “wise as serpents.”  After doing some research on the intelligence of snakes, the general opinion by those who own them or handle them for various reasons, is that snakes are somewhat intelligent in that they are instinctive.  They recognize who feeds them.  A serpent has keen eyesight and is quick to learn.

In the same passage in Matthew, Jesus tells us to be innocent as doves.  A dove is innocent, meek, and gentle. A dove is often used as a sign of peace.  A dove is a pleasant animal to observe…unlike a snake!

Snakes and doves?  Do these really go together?  Yes they do!  In the passage recorded in Matthew, Jesus was sending his disciples out to spread The Word.  He knew what they were going to be up against and how they would be treated.  Jesus wanted them to be wise and at the same time be gentle and loving toward people.

The Lord has blessed me many times over by placing wonderful Christian women in my life.  One in particular comes to mind when I think about being wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  I was privileged to get to know this special lady and spend time in her home, dine at her table, and enjoy her hospitality.  I observed how she treated others.  Her speech was always soft, her words were kind and true.  She was an intelligent woman and used her knowledge wisely.  She kept a lovely home and her family LOVED HER!  Everyone treated her with respect.

She was encouraging to me and I appreciated that so much.  She taught volumes by her actions, possibly even more so than by anything she said.  I’m sure she could have outsmarted many, yet she didn’t berate or belittle because of her kind heart and spirit.  She always had a smile on her face.  She loved the Lord and He loved her!

Sometimes the world sees Christians as being easy pushovers and maybe some Christians are, but that’s not what Jesus wants us to be.  Neither does He want us to be mean-spirited in our dealings with others. It is a balancing act to be tactful in our conversations and at the same time be loving and kind.  How many times have we been witness to very knowledgeable people who were anything but meek and gentle?  Yes, they can teach others, point out their shortcomings with great self-satisfaction, but isn’t this being more of a snake than a dove? The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.”   (ASV) The only comment this writer has to the above passage is…..AMEN!


    Elizabeth Gillaspie is the wife of a minister and uses her talents for the Lord. She sings, she speaks, and she writes to encourage other women.                                    


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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33