Wait. What? Jesus commands us to be shrewd

In Luke 16 Jesus tells the story of a bad manager who’s getting fired. On his way out the door he calls all the people that owe his boss money and gets them to settle their debt at half off. The boss gets some of his money and the bad manager curries favor with all those businessmen. Then Jesus concludes the story by commending the man for acting shrewdly. Is this why Jesus made up this story? To tell the disciples to act shrewdly? What does that even mean?

Again in Matthew, Jesus is getting the disciples ready to go out on their first ministry trip without him. The very last instruction he gives to them before he sends them out is this: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16 NIV). Jesus is clearly telling his disciples to be shrewd.

What does that mean? Cunning, crafty, strategic in a business sense? Shrewd tends to have a slightly negative connotation in our culture. And yet Jesus clearly is telling us to act shrewdly. As we look more deeply at Jesus command, “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves,” it gives us a few more clues. The Greek work Jesus uses for “snake” is the same word He uses for “satan” elsewhere. He is telling us to be as cunning and as crafty as satan, but with this delimiter, “be as innocent as doves.” The Greek work for “dove” here is the same word Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit elsewhere. So exactly what is Jesus saying?

He’s telling us we need to be as cunning as satan, but as innocent as the Holy Spirit. Crafty but innocent, strategic but without evil intent.

Are you shrewd? What would that even look like?

I just returned from a meeting on Youth Ministry execs in LA where my friend Rick Lawrence, the editor of Group Magazine, presented this concept is his new book of the same name, “Shrewd.”

It’s intriguing isn’t it? And a little freeing as well… Dream, plot, strategize for the sake of the Gospel especially, but remain innocent and pure.

Therefore go, and be SHREWD.


About markmoder

One Response to Wait. What? Jesus commands us to be shrewd

  1. Brent Johnson says:

    I’ve heard one good sermon on this passage in my life. The message was simple: Use money to win people. Being shrewd means being strategic in how we do that. We need to be smart and effective in how we use money to win people.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: