Sunday Night Musing: Shrewdness

The gospel lectionary passage for tonight is from Luke 16:1-13--the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. Go ahead. Click on that link and read it. As Pastor Jan noted, it's not an easy passage. Bible commentators can't agree on what the passage means--what it's real point is.

Basically the steward--the manager of another person's estate--messed up and is getting fired. So he goes out and tells some of the people who owe his employer goods that they should cut their bill in half. He figures that by being shrewd (admittedly an underused word) he'll make friends who will look out for him when he's unemployed.

Jesus gives the story of an example of how we should be with our wealth in the world saying that we should be more like the steward, that people of the world are shrewder in dealing with their own kind than people of the light.

The passage contains some familiar thoughts:
  • "Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."
  • “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."
  • “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
It touches on being trustworthy, a good steward, shrewd, forgiving, putting God above all else, using money wisely. And those thoughts all seem to be connected for Luke or Jesus. I think the main thought is about using our money (wealth, possessions, influence, etc.) in ways where we're not hoarding it or making it the main priority in our lives, but that we use wisely and in shrewd ways (which I don't fully understand what that looks like).

So when I reflect on the sermon each Sunday night, I do so not to influence your thinking, but so that I can process God's word and figure out what it means for my life. Tonight I think this passage is helping me remember to be trustworthy in all I do--that the small stuff matters. I think it's also a reminder to be generous. I still struggle with that. I look uncomfortably at the person on the street corner with the sign saying they're homeless, and I turn my head so they don't see that I've noticed them. I don't know that I'm very good at using the money I have to be generous with my friends very well, either. I can always be better at forgiving those who owe me and not holding grudges or being resentful at those who haven't paid me back. And of course I always need to keep myself in check as to whether God is my priority or if I"m serving something (or someone) else in life.

There's always plenty to work on in my life. I guess I'm learning to be a good and shrewd steward of it. 

I'd love to hear what the passage says to you...

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