Sunday, August 14, 2016

Shrewd Christian

Shrewd Christian
August 15, 2016
Luke 16:9  "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

Shrewd is not a word I typically think of when I think of rock solid Christians.  When I think of the Christians who live outstanding lives, the words that come to mind are usually kind, compassionate, gentle, selfless, but never would I think shrewd.  Shrewd simply means that someone is clever with astute judgment for practicality's sake.  The word has grown to take on negative connotations of someone working to get his or her own way.  It is not a bad thing to be shrewd if you are not committing a sin, but usually someone who is shrewd is only thinking of himself.  Jesus said He actually recommends taking some examples from someone who was shrewd.

Jesus told a parable about a shrewd manager.  The manager found out he was going to lose his job because he had not been a good steward.  For fear of his future after the impending employment loss, he used his remaining time and position to gain friends.  He significantly reduced his boss's debtor accounts.  Those that owed his boss money got their debt drastically reduced.  The shrewd manager was now a favorite among the locals and everyone now felt obligated to be kind and generous toward him should he ever be in need, because he was kind and generous by reducing their debt.  Everyone now owed him a favor.  The shrewd manager was actually commended for being so clever.  Jesus pointed out even non-Christians, acting for selfish reasons, end up doing kind and generous things for others, even if it is for personal gain.  The point Jesus was trying to make was that even a person acting with the wrong motives can do something good for others.  Jesus suggested Christians could and should learn from this example.  

While we are not to be shrewd, acting only out of selfishness to get what we want, the results of shrewdness will be that we actually end up getting what we want.  The shrewd manager was going to reap generosity from his friends because he sowed generosity.  The shrewd manager was going to enjoy all the benefits from his act of kindness toward others.  There are verses in the Bible teaching us about the spirit of reciprocity, that we will get back in life what we put into it.  Jesus was saying that even non-Christians have figured this out, even though  for selfish gain.  Jesus said non-Christians are better at doing good for others than Christians.  This hurts a little, but is probably true.  Sometimes it is hard to do an act of kindness or generosity with truly pure motives.  It is easier to be kind and gentle and compassionate if you are thinking of your reward during the act of kindness.  Non-Christians have this down.  Christians, since we aren't supposed to be thinking of ourselves, we end up doing less acts of kindness and generosity.  This is straight from the mouth of Jesus.  While Jesus was NOT suggesting we should start being selfish, He was suggesting that the good things we sow will come back to us, so why not sow them anyway.

No bad thing can come from being a good Christian and doing everything recommended in the Bible.  When you make it to Heaven the Lord will never say you shouldn't have given to someone else, or taken care of that impoverished person, or sacrificed for the good of others.  But He certainly might question why you didn't do the good things you actually could have done.  You can't life a sinless life, hence His provision of forgiveness, but you can live a selfless life.  As Christians, we think if we do not sin, then we are allowed to do anything we want for ourselves.  After all, a sinless life is a perfect life, right?  Nope.  A sinless life can still be a selfish life if you aren't living for others.  Jesus can forgive your sins, but He can't do the good work that you alone are supposed to do.  Jesus doesn't care how much you do for yourself, He cares about how much you do for others.  He even gives you permission to use your worldly wealth to gain friends, as demonstrated by the shrewd manager.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matthew 6:1-3 & 35 & 38, Luke 16:1-12, Gal 6:7-10, James 2:14-21, Heb 13:16, 1 Tim 6:17-19

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