Dear friends, greetings in the blessed Name of our Lord Jesus. I trust that the Lord had been blessing you with all good things. Sometime back I was watching a TV show which aired the story of a conman (who many believed was a Christian. They probably didn’t heed the Lord’s advice to judge a person by his character and not merely by his confession) who ripped off many Christians off their life savings. A senior woman (about 65) was in tears as she explained in detail about how she was conned by a “Christian” business man. She and several others in her church trusted this man as he professed Christ. These brothers and sisters didn’t want anything to do with Wall Street and its worldly ways (probably scared of people like Jordan Belfort, Bernie Madoff , and the legendary Gordon Gekko) and so they invested in a fund (I think) started by this “Christian” man who absconded with all their savings. That really broke my heart. It got me wondering: are we Christians really naïve and are the people of the world smarter than us?
I’d like for us to turn to Matthew 10:16 in which the Lord Jesus instructed His disciples to be “as shrewd as snakes (paraphrased: wily as a Fox) and as innocent as doves.” Sometimes I get the feeling that we are innocent as doves but not shrewd enough. The Lord Jesus, pure as He is, was well conversant with the world and its thinking. When the Pharisees tried to trap him by questioning about the legality of Roman taxation, he astounded them with a politically and spiritually correct response: “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which belongs to God” (Matthew 21:22). It’s obvious that God wants us to know and understand the ways of this world, but not adopt them (1 Corinthians 5:10). Our churches sometimes teach us too much spirituality which renders us defenseless and useless in this world. The book of Proverbs is an excellent resource for us Christians to learn and protect ourselves from the smart alecs out there.
I think we’re all familiar with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel who was dubbed the “Desert Fox” by the allies during WWII. In his book “The Trial of the Fox”, David Irving had this to say about Marshal Rommel: “He outwitted, bluffed, deceived, and cheated the enemy. It was said that his greatest pleasure was to trick the opponents into premature and often quite needless surrender.” Those of you who are veteran tank commanders probably understand (much better than me) the difficulties of desert combat, i.e., there’s no place to hide! Marshal Rommel, with very limited resources, gave the British a run for their money (at least during the initial phases of the North African campaign). The wily and cunning character attributes of a fox like deception, bluffing, stalking, and cheating are the hallmarks of the people of this world. Maybe it’s time that we Christians wised up to these facts, without indulging in them. Let’s look at some of these fox like behavioral patterns in detail.
Outwitting: In 2 Corinthians 2:11 the Apostle Paul was preaching the virtue of forgiveness. In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul rebuked the church for its carnality and in particular a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. That man was obviously rebuked by the church and in 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul advocated forgiveness for the penitent sinner. The key takeaway from this is that unforgiveness leaves the door open for Satan to divide the church. The church is only as strong as its weakest link and forgiveness unites the body of Christ and enables it to outsmart Satan.
Bluffing: People of this world are pretty good at bluffing (ex: high stakes poker). I suspect that the self-professed god-man who conned Christians to part with their money as described in the opening paragraph was good at bluffing too. In Matthew 4:8-9 Satan displayed all the wealth of the world and tempted the Lord Jesus to abandon God for money. The Lord Jesus rebuked Satan in Matthew 4:10. But beyond that, my sense is that the Lord Jesus knew that Satan was bluffing. In other words even if the Lord Jesus had bowed to Satan’s wishes (which of course was impossible) Satan wouldn’t have given the Lord all that wealth (because it’s not Satan’s to give. The world belongs to our Heavenly Father (Psalm 24:1) ).
So you see saints even though we shouldn’t imitate the world, it may not be a bad idea to be street-smart as the Lord Himself was. The carpenter from Nazareth embodied within Himself both the proverbial (street sense) and Divine wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any among you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen