Finch or Serpent?

This morning was a first—a sharp-shinned hawk perched on a large, low branch of the locust bean tree that grows barely 15 feet from my patio. It was a cool cloudy morning, and the usual birds were conspicuously absent. Maybe they knew enough to stay away from this ruffian, but one tiny finch fluttered nearby. The hawk showed no apparent interest. Soon the finch came within a few inches of the hawk and in a strike as quick as lightening the hawk captured the poor bird in its claws.

I thought, How often am I like that innocent little finch, ignorant of the danger that lurks nearby, waiting and watching for me to draw close?

Sin is like that hawk. It looks beautiful and harmless, disinterested in us. We mistakenly think we can get close without becoming its prey. But before we realize it, sin has clutched us and we are captive.

Matthew 10:16 tells us “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We live in a world filled with sin. An attitude of “how close can I get without falling prey?” compromises a holy life. We must be wise enough to recognize sin and flee when temptation flies in and perches next to us.

So how do we gain that wisdom?

  • Ask for it. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5, NLT). 
  • Read the Bible. 
  • Study the Bible. 
  • Attend church and learn from the pastor. 
  • Read other books about God by Christian authors.

The choice is ours to make. Will we flutter around the hawk or be wise as serpents?

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13, NLT).

Debra L. Butterfield © 2010


  1. Interesting analogy and beautifully written.


  2. Great thoughts Deb...spiritual truth from every day life. Good job.