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Be Shrewd with Your Money: A Christian Perspective

Usually in our houses, there is a theme to our approach to money, wealth, resources, what we ‘have'. What is the theme of your house?

  • Generosity?

  • Frugality?

  • wastefulness?

  • desperation?

If we think of the Bible as a library for the House of God, and were to catalogue it by subject matter, more than one sixth of it would be catalogued under economics. Some of the most surprising advice comes from the Parable of the Dishonest Manager.

Luke 16.1-13

Really? Jesus, what were you thinking?

He tells the story of a dishonest manager who is about to be fired for embezzling.  He goes around reducing all the debts owed to his master, figuring that he will need the goodwill of those people to survive afterwards. Who knows what deals were going down in the early days of the 2008 financial crisis? In our economy, we expect that he will be punished.  A Bernie Madoff of the first century.

But his boss commends him: ‘you ripped me off but you know how power and money work.’

We all know people who are constantly establishing patronage, working office politics, making deals, earning favours -- trouble is we don’t usually like them.

But this fellow is rewarded because he had acted shrewdly; “for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

Be shrewd.

  • Beware of your naivete.  Be very very careful -- beware of the destructive power of wealth.

  • Be wise about how you play the game -- you use money, don't let it rule you.

Use your possessions for God's purposes.

What Jesus’ followers could learn from the “children of this age” has to do with “making friends for themselves” by means of “dishonest wealth” so that those new friends might “welcome them into the eternal homes” (16:9).

The Filipino concept of utang na loob, an “inner debt” or a “debt of inner gratitude,” perhaps captures something of what is being established here -- a debt rooted in the mutual benefit of friends.

Jesus suggests that it is possible to manage possessions and money shrewdly in ways that can lead us into life with God.

Practice making decisions that are faith-filled, God directed.

How we use the resources at our disposal in this life -- especially in tight circumstances -- matters. It is no coincidence that the people of the poorest province in Canada make the highest per capita charitable donations.  They have practice in making godly decisions in difficult times.

What rules your heart?

"You cannot serve God and wealth."

If you serve wealth for its own sake, you will fail.  But if you serve God and shrewdly use what you have for God's purposes, you will enjoy the blessings of life with God.

 There's a bit of the Dishonest Manager in all of us. Jesus tells us today that he sees right through us – and loves us dearly anyway.

When we’re trying to manage the economy of our houses, be shrewd:

  • Use possessions to achieve life with God.

  • Practice making decisions that are faith-filled, and God-directed.

  • Know that God rules your heart.

And when we can’t do it with the generosity and grace we strive for, the Good News is:  just like the dishonest manager, we are forgiven.