Jesus is more impressed with the cunning of “the people of this world” than he is the naïveté so common to “the people of the light.” And then—back to the doves and snakes analogy—he urges us to be cunning: “I want you to be smart in the same way . . . not complacently just get by on good behavior” (v. 9, The Message). There’s a certain charm to a Forrest Gump naïveté, the kind your grandmother had as she wore her white gloves to church—but is that the kind of person you could trust with your life?
God’s response to the Tower of Babble uprising was cunning—confusing the languages of the earth. It was certainly better than taking away the faculty of speech. Men could make some headway, but they would have a heck of a time uniting the world again in a rebellion against God.
Setting eternity in our hearts was cunning, so that every last one of us would be haunted all our days with unmet longings that would cause us to seek the only Fountain that can quench our thirst. I think the movement of the Spirit in the church is cunning—first here, then there, keeping men from systemizing it, keeping the enemy from squelching it. It’s like a game of rugby.
Jesus is holy and cunning.
(Beautiful Outlaw, 124)