• Joshua D McVey

The Clever Secret to Success

In Matthew chapter ten Jesus instructs us to be clever as serpents and meek as doves. Growing up I loved the stories of underdogs outsmarting the more powerful villains. I loved bugs bunny. He was always outsmarting Elmer Fudd and other characters. The rabbit is often portrayed as weaker, but smarter than the other predators.

Tom and Jerry was another favorite. Jerry was always one step ahead of Tom. Another favorite were the Uncle Remus stories. Again a rabbit (Bre'r Rabbit) was always outsmarting Bre'r Bear and Bre'r Fox.

A famous story from that collection was the brier patch. Bre'r Fox had finally caught Bre'r Rabbit. "What should I do with you?" Thought Bre'r Fox.

"Whatever you do, don't throw me into the brier patch." Pleaded Bre'r Rabbit.

Bre'r Rabbit convinces Bre'r Fox that's the worst thing he could ever do to him. So, Bre'r Fox throws Bre'r Rabbit in. Rabbits love the brier patch and it's like another home for them as they slide and slip through the thorns. Bre'r Rabbit outsmarts Bre'r Fox again.

The Pharisees are always trying to catch Jesus. They ask him loaded questions, they believe will turn the people against him. These questions, at first glance, have no safe answer. Over and over gain Jesus evades their traps. He is like the rabbit outsmarting the foxes.

The culmination of this is in the woman caught in adultery. She is brought before Jesus. They say she was caught in the act, no doubt of her guilt. They state the law of Moses, stoning, and ask Jesus what they should do. In stead of answering, he begins to write in the dirt. Then he says, "Let him without sin cast the first stone."

Clever. Jesus turns the trap on itself. Once again, he outsmarts his adversary. Jesus is the example of 'clever as a serpent, meek as a dove.'

Jesus' instruction in Mathew ten is preparing his disciples for the world that waits for them. He tells them they will be like sheep among wolves. They must be clever and restrained. These instructions are relevant to us today.

The teachings of Jesus are instructions to be successful in life. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Violence, threats, and death are paths of the old world. Peace, kindness, justice, mercy, grace, . . .et al. are insights into the world as it is meant to be.

In order to bring the Kingdom of Heaven into this world, here and now, we must be clever and meek. We must outsmart our opponents, stay one step ahead, and be aware of the consequences from our responses.

Violence only begets more violence (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) "For all who draw the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52)", but a soft word turns away wrath (Proverbs 16:24). Our response to violence and death must be clever. We must restrain the power within us. We must focus it and use it to bring peace, justice, and mercy.

To be successful we must be one step ahead. Understand the consequences of our actions, and out smart those who would do us harm. Peace is our ultimate goal, this is done through love.

May you find the answers when you need them.

May you be open to hear the words God has for you.

May you be clever as serpents and meek as doves.

In His service and yours,


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