Life is a fine balance of shrewd and pure
The other day we talked about living as shrewd as serpents. In other translations the adjective used is wise, prudent, smart, clever, cautious, wary, cunning, clever, and intelligent. Today I want to talk about the other half of the equation.
Pure as Doves
I have to admit to not having as many experiences with doves as I do with snakes. In wanting to understand what the Bible meant when they used the word "dove" I looked the topic up in the Bible Encyclopedia. The adjectives used to describe doves were loving, precious, peaceable, faithful, happy, and foolishly trusting. Obviously there are characteristics of both snakes and doves we don't want to emulate, thus why we are asked to be like both of them. I decided to look at the various adjectives in the verse from various translations to learn a little more about how we should live as doves.
NIV, ESV, Amplified - innocent - doing no wrong; free from sin or wrong; not guilty
The Message - inoffensive - not offensive; harmless; not arousing objections
KJV, Amplified - harmless - causing no harm; that would not harm anyone or anything
Amplified - guileless - honest, frank, sincere; without falsity
OJB - faultless - free from blemish or error; perfect
Wycliffe - simple - not divided into parts, with nothing added, natural
As you can see, pure is not listed in any of the translations as the adjectives used, but when I looked up the original Greek word used it is "akeraios" which means innocent, pure, not mixed with evil. The definition for pure is not mixed with anything else; perfectly clean; perfect; with no evil; nothing else than.
So, what does all of this mean to me? What do I think it could mean to you?
I think this part of the phrase tempers the first part of being like a snake. Yes, we need to be wary and we need to protect, but we need to be more than that. We need to have no evil in us, not be part good and part bad depending on the circumstances; we need to love, be kind, and true; we need to not take offense by what others do; and we need to be exactly who God made us to be.
You see, when Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem he did not do it with malicious intent towards anyone, though that was an accusation thrown at him. He was not trying to usurp the king. He was not planning on attacking anyone. He was protecting the temple, the people, and the city. His actions were not offensive, evil, malicious, or harmful. They were loving, protective, kind, and pure.
As we learn to be more like snakes we must also be more like doves at the same time. It is the only way we can love like we are supposed to. It is the only way we can be who God created us to be. We can't let the snake qualities overtake us. That was never the goal. Instead, we are to blend the two and take the best from both. As we are wary, we trust. As we are wise, we see clearly. As we are protective, we never attack. As we are clever, we don't take advantage. As we are cautious, we still love. As we put up a defense we never take the offense.
Yes, I firmly believe we all need to be more wary, but at the same time I think it is imperative that we remain pure through the process.