“The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.” (Luke 16:8 NLT)
There’s a difference between being holy and being naïve with your money. If you don’t believe me, listen to Jesus.
Remember Jesus’ parable of the dishonest manager? The often-misunderstood story centers on a man who has just been fired from his job for being a bad manager of his boss’ money. Knowing he’ll soon be out of a job, the manager hatches a plan to build friendships with those who owe his boss money by cutting their debts. That way he’ll have friends to help him when he’s out of a job.
This parable is packed with truth. Over the next four days, we’ll focus on four specific money principles that Jesus teaches us about in this parable.
First, he teaches us the principle of shrewdness.It seems dishonest, but Jesus actually commends the man for being shrewd. Jesus says, “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light” (Luke 16:8 NLT).
We tend to think of shrewdness as a negative trait. But it isn’t. It also meansbeing wise. God wants us to be wise with what he has given us.
What exactly is shrewd about this manager’s actions?
- The manager acted realistically. He knew his limitations. He couldn’t dig ditches, and he was too proud to beg. Realism often gets a bad rap in Christian circles. We tend to think that if we’re realistic about our situation, we’re not demonstrating faith.
Yet faith and realism work in tandem. We need to deal with life as it is while continuing to pray for God to perform a miracle. If you’re out of work and need money, don’t just sit back and wait for God to place a check in your mailbox. Deal with the situation realistically (in other words, look for a job), but continue to pray that God will provide a miracle.
- The manager acted quickly. The manager also acted on his idea right away.
The greatest enemy of shrewdness is procrastination. The moment God gives you an idea, check it out with the Bible and other Christians. Then do it.
To sum it up, the manager used what he had to his best advantage. God wants us to do that, too. He gave us what we have for a reason: to make a difference for him in the world. To do that most effectively, we have to be wise.
Talk About It
- Looking back to January 2011: Are you now better organized with your finances? What can you do to become better organized?
- God gave you your money for a reason. What do you think he wants you to use it for that you aren’t using it for now (be specific)?
Tom Holladay is a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church and author of The Relationship Principles of Jesus.