Friday, November 16, 2012

Shrewd Dealings

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 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 16:1-9

I grew up around many friends whose fathers worked on Wall Street and had seats on the exchange. They commuted to the city early in the morning and came back late at night. Their children had the best things and the newest toys and games. We had none of those things since we were living on a clergy salary. Sometimes I was jealous of their parents' cleverness and shrewdness and wished we had all those cool vacations and clothes. I was happy though to have my Dad around and to be nurtured and cared for by two loving parents rather than the household help. And as a good christian family our poverty or lack was a sign of our faithfulness and humility.

Jesus is instructing his disciples not to foolish but rather wise and shrewd in all their dealings. This passage seems so counter to what we have been taught. Many of us hear Jesus' words to the rich young man, "give everything you have to the poor..." And yet there is a lesson for all of us today. We are invited to be clever with what we have, whether it is much or little, and be wise to the ways of the world. We are not to isolate ourselves and ignore the world, but instead use the tools available for the good of all. We often want to run and hide but we are encouraged to engage the world fully, knowing that goods and gains are temporary and what endures is God's love.

Today I ask God to give me the courage to engage the world, learn the necessary techniques and technology and use the gifts I have been given. Help us not to be shy but ever curious and studious. May we be ever thankful for what we have, no matter how much or how little, and use it at all times for the good of others. May we love God completely, and our neighbors as ourselves and engage the world for the benefit of God's reign here on earth.

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