Categorized | Opinion

Be Wise as a Serpent

By David Peel

As a Christian injury lawyer, I am often asked about the Bible and the practice of law.  One shining example is Matthew 10:16. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Christians who follow this verse carefully should be the toughest to rip-off! Instead, as we all know too well, smooth talking charlatans who do “affinity” schemes often defraud Christians.  An affinity scheme is usually a person of faith or a given ethnicity that takes advantage of those who believe likewise. The most famous is the scheme by Bernie Madoff who preyed primarily on other Jewish people he knew.   The same thing happens at churches, unfortunately.

What does Scripture tell us? Be both wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove? Wisdom is often defined as the judicious application of knowledge of truth. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations (also called “discernment”) resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. Wisdom is basically the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action.

Do snakes make you afraid? About a third of adult humans are ophidiophobic, suffering with an abnormal fear of snakes, the most common phobia.

Recent studies conducted have theorized that humans may have an innate reaction to snakes.  I would argue that the echoes of Eden and the tempting serpent therein still ring within our collective human memory.

We seldom see snakes as they commonly protect themselves through active avoidance and hiding. They are seldom aggressive–thankfully–and actually flee human contact. Snakes usually bite only when feeling threatened. They avoid danger whenever they can.  That is rather prudent. A Proverb reminds us that, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Translations of the Bible use “innocent,”  “inoffensive” or “harmless” for the properties of the dove. They are. A dove is an enemy of nothing. Doves are often seen as the symbol for peace along with olive branches. This harkens back to our long ago great grandfather Noah and his time on the Ark.

So how do we put this into practice as Christians in regards to the law? First, be wise enough to recognize scams when you hear them. Then escape, like the snake! Perceiving and avoiding danger, I often call it “seeing around corners,” is one mark of prudence and wisdom. If it sounds too good to be true, it is! You have not won a Canadian lottery. You are not going to get millions from Africa for holding a check for someone. You are not going to get rich quick. Nor should you want to. Wonder why those never work? Proverbs 13:11 warns, “Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but he who gathers little by little will increase it.”

Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

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March 2013
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