Summary: This parable gives us three principles for being Shrewd Disciples.
Notice that it is the master not Jesus who commends this man for his shrewdness. The master in this story does not say that he is pleased by his steward’s actions but is none-the -less, impressed.
It is obvious that Jesus is not commending this man for being underhanded or dishonest. But the shrewd manager is an example to us in that he saw clearly what the issues were, he cared about the outcome and he did something about it.
THE PRINCIPLES OF SHREWD DISCIPLESHIP (vv. 8c-13)
In the second half of verse eight Jesus now applies the principles of found in this parable.
1. We Are Called To Use Opportunities Wisely (vv. 8c-9)
“… For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. (9) "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail they may receive you into an everlasting home.”
The idea that followers of Christ are to be shrewd is a little unsettling. What does it mean to be “shrewd.” When we think of shrewd individuals we may think of the lawyer who knows all the loopholes and is careful to stay just within the realm of what is legal; not at all concerned about moral principle or true justice. Or we may think of the businessman who knows how to exploit his competitor’s weaknesses or a customer’s ignorance.
Good businessmen, either then or now, see the possibilities and seize the opportunities in the world around them. They are even willing to sacrifice present comforts for the prospects of future rewards on their investments.
William Barclay sums it up pretty well when he said, “If only the Christian was as eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the man of the world is in his attempt to attain money and comfort, he would be a much better man.”
[William Barclay. The Gospel of Luke. The Daily Bible Study Series. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975) p. 208]
Don’t miss the significance of the last part of verse nine, “that when you fail they may receive you into an everlasting home.” What he is referring to here is death not debt. Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we will take nothing out.” Shrewdness about money, will force us to realize that although money can be powerful it is limited, temporary and temporal.
The only wealth that will endure is that which has been invested in others for the sake of Christ and his gospel.
Dr. James Dobson tells a story that I think illustrates my point. He says, “When my daughter Danae, was a teenager, she came home one day and said, ‘Hey Dad!’ There’s this great new game out. I think you’ll like it. Its called MONOPOLY.’ I just smiled.
We gathered the family together and set up the board. It didn’t take long to figure out that Dad had played this game before. I soon owned all the best properties, including Boardwalk and Park Place. My kids were squirming, and I was loving every minute of it.
About midnight I foreclosed on the last property and did a little victory dance. My family wasn’t impressed. They went to bed and made me put the game away. As I began putting all my money back in the box, an empty feeling came over me. Everything that I had accumulated was gone. The excitement over riches was just an illusion. And then it occurred to me, Hey, this isn’t just the game of monopoly that has caught my attention; this is the game of life. You struggle to get ahead, but then one day the game ends. It all goes back in the box. You leave this world with nothing, just as you came into it…..” [Dr. James Dobson’s Bullentin. “The Game of Life” December 2002. (vol 15. no.11) Carol Stream, IL. :Tyndale House)