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Shrewd Not Scrooge

Shrewd Not Scrooge

In Luke 16 we find Jesus telling a story of  a dishonest manager
16 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.  10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

This parable is unique and a little bizarre when compared to other parables in Luke. It starts off similar to the story of the prodigal son. In which both males have squandered money or possessions and have been wasteful of resources. Both were in some complicated circumstance.

The prodigal finds himself in a pig pen about to eat the slop that the pigs were eating. And this manager is about to be fired for mismanaging funds. They are in a situation.
Both are counted upon to do a self-evaluation. Afterwards the prodigal comes to an end of himself and heads back home to his father’s house. The prodigal is willing to settle to be a servant in his father’s house if that is what it took to get good with his father.
The manager has also been called to give an account for his actions. He too is about to come to an end...end of his career. He has nothing else. He is not a laborer nor a beggar, he needs this job. So his self-evaluation compels him to strike deals with his boss’ clients and get on their good side.

It does not say but perhaps this manager is taking a cut in his own commission. So that the money which was said to be wasted would be more easily returned to the master.
I know if I was called into the boss’s office and was called to give an account of my actions, I would do the best to build my case or to get back in good standing with the boss.

Facing unemployment and having no skills beyond being a steward, he is in a dilemma, since he does not wish to beg or resort to demeaning physical labor. He decides on a course of action that will bring him into his neighbors' good graces.  It is important to note Jesus is telling this parable to the disciples. These are those who have been following him, watching him, listening to him.

One of the first things mentioned in this passage is an order by the master, to the steward to give an account of the management of the master’s possessions.

We first need to determine who the master is and who the stewards are.

Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

In other words we are all managers. God has entrusted to each one of us temporary resources. These resources are described in verse 9 as worldly wealth. Our money, positions, abilities, talents, relationships, spiritual gifts, time, effort and energy are all resources and forms of wealth.

The problem comes when we have to give an account of our management of His possessions.
Have we been good stewards? Have we committed our resources, abilities, talents to the things of God? Have we done it with excellence?  Have we been Shrewd or have we been a Scrooge?

Scrooge had a money-lending business. He was a cold hearted man who only cared about himself and his wealth. Charles Dickens (author of “A Christmas Carol” refers to Scrooge as "... a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!" He was unhappy, very negative, and didn’t want to be bothered.

On the other hand:

Shrewd- to use your resources with effort and imagination

Jesus is challenging his disciples to be shrewd or to be clever, innovative. To think of ways you can use your resources to make eternal difference to make eternal friends. To use what you have in such a way where lives are impacted forever.

The latter part of vs 8 says
For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.  People of this world think about how they use their resources. Even if they misuse them, they still give it thought. Disciples should apply themselves to honor and serve God by their use of resources. They should think through their actions, both short and long term.
-Isn’t advertising and the media sufficient proof of that? The best commercials are the beer commercials or commercials with partial nudity.
Business men know how to make a deal and satisfy a client (car salesman) better than Christians know how to impact those who are in darkness.
The world knows how to reach its own. Their message is out
We have got to be shrewd (innovative, clever) when It comes to reaching the lost

Be Shrewd for God
To be Shrewd for God is to present the Gospel to others with thought and imagination.
Chuck Swindoll said, “We need more [people] who have the creativity and tenacity to break with boredom and try the unusual.”

We should be shrewd (smart, insightful, wise, clever) in worshipping. Maybe you shrewdly figure out that you can more effectively pray while walking instead of sitting.
We should be shrewd in connecting. Maybe you shrewdly prepare a Sunday meal at home before going to church and then seek out new people to invite over after church.
We should be shrewd in serving. A shrewd Christian looks and discovers the needs around him/her and uses effort and imagination in meeting those needs.
We should be shrewd in inviting. You might involve yourself with a secular group to develop relationships with unbelievers. We should scheme about how to bring the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to our community with the same effort and imagination that we use in developing a strategic plan for marketing our product in the secular world.

Take a moment and evaluate your life.

If Jesus were to ask you today to give an account of how you have managed his possessions would you be fired?
Have you been sitting on valuable resources not doing anything for the kingdom? (resources can include your money, talents, time, ability, effort, passion)
Have you been using your resources but doing a halfway job?
Have you been shrewd in presenting the gospel to other people so that you are making eternal friends?
Have you passed up the small opportunities in life because you didn’t think it would make a difference?

Today choose to be shrewd not scrooge.