Being wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove because He is sending his original 12 into a hostile world is about not being foolish in how they read people (and how YOU read people) and honoring at a gut level by the Spirit what the Spirit witnesses to that is untruthful, deceitful, manipulative, and predatory!
For that you need the serpent’s wisdom! Of all things for Jesus to equate with wisdom, is the cunning of the serpent! Remember how cunning the Serpent was with Adam and Eve in the Garden? Jesus is saying you have to use the enemy’s own understanding of things in order to defeat the enemy!
When you are in the presence of a wolf, and they are manipulating you for their own purposes realize that they are better at manipulation than you are at discernment, precisely because they know they can take advantage of you being merciful, loving, kind, and compassionate.
Some are realizing that there are some relationships they are in at work and even with family members where manipulation and control are wreaking havoc in their lives. These truths are giving them the courage to reclaim their freedom and Christ and set appropriate boundaries, and for some, find exit strategies from toxic and abusive relationships.
My prayer for you at this season is that you would allow the Spirit to bring you into all the truth relating to manipulation and coercion, and that you would not be deceived by those whose character is flawed and disordered and whose only interest is to take advantage of you. This is happening far too frequently these days in the culture, and it is creeping into the Church.