Read: Luke 16:1-15
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. (v. 8 NIV)
It’s always bothered me a bit that Jesus told us to be wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16). I’d prefer serpents be left out of everything, including conversations with Jesus! But there it is, right before his warning to “beware of men” (v. 17). I hear echoes of John 2:24—Jesus not entrusting himself to the crowds because he “knew what was in man.” And here, in Luke 16, we find Jesus talking about a master reluctantly admiring his servant for being dishonest. Jesus’ parenthetical comment was that children of the world are smarter in dealing with the world than God’s children. How is it that having more light, we fail to be shrewd?
I don’t think Jesus is telling us to be slithery in our dealings, paranoid, or dishonest. Each of Jesus’ comments is juxtaposed: be innocent as doves; find your confidence in God, not people; be astute with worldly goods so that in eternity you will see fruit.
The message here is don’t be naive, and the wisdom literature of the Bible is actually full of advice about that, including: “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). Jesus wasn’t naive, and to follow him, we mustn’t be either. —Amy Clemens
As you pray, ask God where you might become shrewd in a way that bears good fruit.