2019 Advent Devo: Be Shrewd

If I were to list the top qualities found in a follower of Jesus, shrewdness would probably not be very high up on my list. The truth is, just the sound of the word “shrewd” is likely to send up my defensive hackles and conjures up images of Ebenezer Scrooge hunched over his ledgers, looking to squeeze the last dime out of his unfortunate debtors. It can be curious to us then that Jesus tells his disciples a parable in the beginning of Luke chapter 16 that commends the actions of a “shrewd” manager. In the story, we find a manager who is in a position of disfavor with his boss due to a lack of proper investing. Faced with the prospect of losing his job, he decides he will do whatever he can to endear himself to his boss’ debtors. The manager does this by lowering the amount owed by the debtors and in-turn gains their favor. In a turn of events, the master commends his manager’s actions and ultimately approves and praises his shrewdness. While the story seems to be about a clever employee who was looking out for himself and was willing to act inappropriately to do so, Jesus also commends the man’s shrewdness. This may well leave us scratching our heads, asking, “What did this man do that was so good? It seems like he was dishonest, right? I mean, is he just allowed to do that? And why is his master happy?”

Jesus’ own point in telling this parable centers around the idea that people are often much more strategic and yes, even shrewd, when it comes to dealing with their own well-being than they are when dealing with the well-being of the Kingdom of God. When I read this passage, I hear a message about my own resources and how I use them on mission with Jesus. There is a sense of urgency in this parable because the manager is at a dead-end. He knows his days are numbered and he must find any possible way to insure his own future. At this point in his story, all he has to be able to influence anyone is his last bit of control over his master’s accounts, and he is willing to use whatever he has in any way he can for his own good.

What would happen if I viewed my resources for God’s Kingdom in the same way? How would my views on my money, my connections, my physical resources and even my friendships change if I felt the urgency to use every advantage I had to further the mission of Jesus? I believe I would start to see everything I have as a tool to lead others to Jesus. In the end, God knows we are willing to be shrewd when we look out for ourselves. He only asks us to think the same way when we deal with matters of his kingdom. To do this, we must feel the urgency of Jesus’ mission and be willing to use whatever means we can to accomplish the work we have been given for the Kingdom of God.

You are loved!
Jon Cooke