The Shrewdness of the World (Luke 16:8-9)

He was once of the richest men in the world. He built numerous homes for the poor and freely handed out money. He briefly held a government office, campaigning on a party platform that he was a candidate for the masses. And he was also the world’s most notorious narcotics supplier.


He was Pablo Escobar.


He was a target of the Colombian government, police force, and army and the United States DEA and CIA. Yet, for most of his career, he managed to elude his opponents. His crime empire was far more sophisticated than most legal businesses, at one point, collecting as much as $70 million dollars a day. Many chose, out of fear and/or greed, to join Escobar’s payroll as a bribed official. Only the most dedicated officials were able to remain loyal to the law, surmising the only way they could capture him was to think and behave like a criminal. It required some to blur the lines between law enforcement and criminal actions, but ultimate success depended upon these officials to cling to the values they swore an oath to defend. By thinking like him, anticipating his unorthodox criminal schemes, officials were able to slowly tighten the noose and eventually, Escobar was killed.


The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Luke 16:8-9 (ESV)


In this parable recorded in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to praise a manager for his shrewdness in tactics used to avoid the wrath of his master, after his master discovered he was mismanaging and wasting much of his possessions. When the master asked for his resignation, the manager immediately contacted some of his master’s debtors and asked them to quickly pay half of what they owed his master. In so doing, he collected a large sum of money and mollified his master, garnering his praise.


Jesus recognized that sometimes, those in the world, may be more shrewd in their dealings than those within the Church, employing tactics that are seemingly more successful. Christian missionaries, for example, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in countries that are restrictive or hostile to outside religions, must adopt local customs and business practices to successfully blend in and not draw attention to their true mission.


It does not mean that believers in Jesus Christ are to abandon the principles that are written in the Bible and ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It does mean that all Christians must understand and be aware of the strategies of the world, even utilizing them, to advance the Kingdom of God, but always keeping in mind that ultimately, these strategies will fail. Jesus taught that when it fails, those of the world will recognize the true wisdom of God. His thoughts are not our thoughts and praise God that they are not!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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