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Serpents And Doves

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore prudent as serpents, and harmless as doves.  (Matthew 10:16)


There’s a double warning in this verse which strikes me as especially important for Christian preppers to remember. First there is the command to be prudent. I read this as a warning against false security of all kinds. We need to remember that our savings and retirement accounts don’t necessarily mean we’ll never want for anything, that our country’s military can’t safeguard its citizens from violence, that prosperity built on the destruction of communities and ecosystems cannot last forever, that harder times are likely coming. We do well to remember, too, that if we try to live according to God’s commandments and warnings as we understand them, we may lose social prestige and even the friendship of some people that we value. We need to keep our trust in God, not in the systems of this society–and not entirely in our own efforts, either.

But prudence isn’t enough. We are warned, not only to keep ourselves from harm, but to refrain from harming others, even–or especially–out of our fear. We are forbidden to do to other people what we fear that they may do to us. I believe this means that we must not use violence against people in the attempt to protect ourselves, and that we must not hoard more than our share of scarce resources fearing that someone else will corner them first. I also believe that it means that we must not condemn, dismiss or ridicule other people to ward off the pain of being condemned, dismissed or ridiculed by them. This is probably the hardest part for me. I don’t want to be written of because I spend my days doing manual work–but I sometimes speak snidely or contemptuously about professionals. (Especially those who have said things about me.)This is childish. Worse, this is destructive.

When we harm others in the attempt to protect ourselves we disobey God’s command and we disregard the warning that with the measure that we use, it will be measured unto us. Let us remember the warning and keep the commandment. Let us make our preparations as God’s fellow workers, and keep our trust in God.

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