Like you, I have been reading through Luke in my Life Journal.  This morning (Monday) I read chapter 16.  Two great stories in this chapter and we will deal with both of them today.

Jesus tells us about a dishonest servant, who when he was found out made sure he had someplace to go when he got fired.  What he did was gathered his master’s customers and changed what they owed him to lesser amounts.  In the story the master commended the servant for his shrewd thinking.  Then Jesus added: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of the light.: (Luke 16:8b).

Now, I used to have a difficult time with this verse.  Was Jesus advocating cheating our master?  Seeing as the master in a parable is usually God – good luck with THAT!  Is He suggesting that we manipulate others into doing things for our own selfish gain?  No, manipulation is a pretty serious breach of relationship and no one who loves you genuinely will EVER manipulate you for their own gain.

The problem I had with this parable is in the way we have defined “shrewd”.  We view the word as being negative by nature, it is malicious, mischievous.  However, the Greek word has at its root the idea of wisdom.  It probably does not help that the context of the story Jesus is telling has a very negative connotation to it.  Remember at some point, a parable always breaks down and strays from its intended meaning.

The implication for us Christian is that though we are never called to manipulate, cheat, or in any way act with malice toward others, we are supposed to deal wisely with everyone.  We need to keep our eyes and ears open, and take into account what we know of a person’s nature and tendencies.  Paul did this at Mars Hill in Acts.  We must be ready to make the most of every situation that we are given – for the other persons (Eternal) benefit and God’s Glory.