Am I being prudent and discerning since some people are not who they appear to be?
16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to local councils and flog you in their synagogues. - Matthew 10:16-17
I am continuing to learn from experience that it is unwise to simply trust that people are who they say they are, or even who they think they are. I have too often just trusted people too soon and it has burned me many times. I have always been a sucker for a charismatic personality and a good smile. Wisdom however, is teaching me to be more discreet, discerning, and skeptical. We are in a spiritual war and not all people have authentic faith in God (2 Thes 3:2). Many people are unknowingly playing for the other team. Therefore, Jesus is showing us that it is not unloving to be cautious in trusting others. Not even Jesus trusted himself to all people and passed many people right up. There are those that he knew wanted help and those that had ulterior motives (John 2:23-25).
I’ve walked on a certain set of hiking trails, over 500 times in the last four years. In all that time I have only seen two rattlesnakes. That shows just how shrewd they are. Even though they have the power to kill me in just a few hours, they don’t stick their neck out, but instead they are extremely cautious to avoid unnecessary trouble.
Satan has the majority of people in the world and the church, unknowingly, under his influence. We must exercise prudence—discerning the fruit of people’s lips and actions, before we jump into relationships with them. We are to be cautious (snakes), and to be gentle and non-threatening (doves), giving no justifiable reason for people to attack or despise us, but giving careful consideration to who we fellowship with. There is enough evil that will get to us, even when we have good discernment. Let’s not make it any easier.