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What exactly is the wisdom everyone needs? Here’s the equation for it:

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W = S + I

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For more use the DOOR.

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[MORE]

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   Consider the instructions Jesus gave his disciples before sending them out:

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   “Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.”

–Matthew 10:1

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   Yes, there’s context to consider–what came before and after this. And it was Jesus speaking to his handpicked disciples who he was sending out to awaken the Jews to his new ministry he was about to begin. So there are special circumstances to take into account.

   But there’s a general principle at work, as Jesus uses a metaphor and two similes to give instructions about what lies ahead and how to behave. It’s not the whole story, of course, but it’s three pieces of significant information that seem important in much Christian witnessing and teaching.

   We’ll number them in ADS fashion. Forgive us if we oversimplify.

   (1)  Wolves are out there, people who range from those who don’t care to those who would destroy you and/or what you’re doing.

   (2)  Christians are expected to be shrewd, crafty like snakes in doing their job. Craftiness usually comes from life experience or listening to and following good advice. (Implied is that such shrewdness is not the kind that takes advantage of people.)

   (3)  Christians are expected to be innocent as doves. This almost seems antithetical to shrewdness, but it’s not. Christians must know their territory and be willing to encounter those who occupy it. But this doesn’t require doing or being like others in every way. How to know what to do and not do sometimes is hard. Very hard. But innocence of participating in evil is demanded.One example: A person pressed into taking illegal drugs may experience highs or “rewards” he is ignorant of, but the drug-taker is loses knowledge of the experience of always living forever drug-free. One more example: A person with several sexual partners  may have a broader knowledge of certain techniques and human responses, but that person may never completely grasp the great satisfaction of growing together with a committed single partner. Something might be lost. This issue, of course, may be oversimplified and can be long discussed, but that’s not our purpose here.

   Innocence involves the “risk” of being controlled by the rules.

   Shrewdness involves the risk of wrongly taking advantage of someone.

   It isn’t easy.

   And to help us understand, Jesus asks us to understand animals: wolves, snakes, and doves.

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   Wisdom = Shrewdness + Innocence