Summary: Christian shrewdness means to use earthly treasures to build heavnly friendships
Sermon Text: Luke 16:1-10
WHAT’S IT MEAN TO BE SHREWD?
Do you know any shrewd characters? It all depends on our understanding of the word “shrewd”. That word seems to cause red flags to come up in our minds. Perhaps we equate shrewdness with dishonesty. We might think a businessman is shrewd if he cheated his company out of millions of dollars, when that’s not being shrewd, that’s being a cheat.
Jesus actually says that shrewdness is a commendable quality. He teaches this to us with a parable. In this account Jesus answers this question: WHAT’S IT MEAN TO BE SHREWD? In God’s kingdom shrewdness means that we: 1) Consider the Outcome. It also means that we are to 2) Be Creative.
1) Consider the Outcome
In this parable we encounter two main characters: the dishonest manager and his master. Both of these men had one thing in common – they both appreciated shrewdness. To be shrewd means to consider the bottom line. We’re told what the bottom line was for this servant: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’” There’s the bottom line. The rich employer had found out his employee was cheating him, so he called him to prepare his final financial account and then announced that he would be fired that same day. The manager knew his job was finished. He had to do something. But what?
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig and I’m ashamed to beg – I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their homes.’”
This man considered the outcome. He knew the bottom line. He’d be fired. Now, the bottom line was his own doing; the result of being a cheat. He was obviously not faithful with the position his master had given him. Notice how this man handled his situation, though. He didn’t waste any time. He assessed the circumstance, considering everything carefully, and then he acted. He thought of a plan that would help him to expand his options, his bottom line.
What’s surprising is that the employer commends his dishonest, yet, shrewd worker. His cheating, deceitful ways were not commendable. What was admirable was how this wily fellow considered the outcome. He was shrewd enough to know that he had to be one step ahead. If he was going to get caught, at least he was going to have his “bases covered.”
In the same way Jesus tells his followers to have their “bases covered.” “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” How shrewd are we? Do we consider the outcome? I believe we Christians get so frustrated because we see so much potential work that could be done, but then we look at ourselves and see nothing but limitations. Sometimes we’re tempted to look around and say, “this is as good as it’s going to get”, and we leave the bases uncovered.