Study Guide: Shrewd for the Kingdom

Sunday November 30, 2008 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

What does it mean to use material resources in a godly way? All of our money and “stuff” will pass away but the relationships we have with people have real eternal value. God wants us to use our resources to advance his Kingdom rather than our own.

Extended Summary:

When interpreting the parables, the central point is the only point. It is crucial to note that everything else in the parable is a prop for the sake of making the central point. Like a good joke, we need to look for the punch line in order to understand what the parables means. In this parable, the punch line is found in verse 9. There Jesus tells us that we are to “use worldly wealth to gain friends.” Jesus isn’t teaching us about how managers should operate. Not encouraging us to be dishonest. He’s teaching us about having clever foresight and acting accordingly.

The reference to “worldly wealth” is one that recognizes that all money is ultimately based on injustice. Greed and exploitation permeates the whole thing. But Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t touch it.” Instead he says, “Be shrewd with how you use it.” The way we should use it is like the manager. Have clever foresight into what’s coming, and act now on this basis. The manager saw his position and power was passing away and he was going to be out on the street. Before he lost it, he used it to make friends so he’d have a place to stay. So too, we’re to be shrewd. We know whatever unjust money we have will pass away; we know all our position and power will pass away. Jesus is basically saying, “Since you’re going to lose it all soon when you die, use your unjust money and whatever position and power you have to make friends who will welcome you into eternal dwellings.”

People of the world are shrewd in the way they acquire and spend money for themselves, as though this life was the whole story, but people of light know that unrighteous money and everything else is passing away in a moment, so we’re to be shrewd in acquiring and spending money in ways that make us a friend of the coming Kingdom. We are to remember that if we’re faithful in very little wealth we have now, he’ll entrust us with infinitely greater wealth later on. If we’re faithful in the false riches of the world, he’ll entrust us with the true riches of the Kingdom. If we’re faithful in managing God’s property now, he’ll give us our own property later on: we inherit the Kingdom which contains every blessing our heart could desire.

So the question this passage forces us to ask is: Are we being shrewd with this unjust money? Are we using our wealth, position and power which is passing away to make friends in heaven to welcome us when it does pass away?

Reflection Questions:

  1. How did the shrewd manager use his master’s wealth to strengthen the relationships he had with the master’s debtors? What is commendable about this?
  2. How could we use our resources “shrewdly”? What relationships would we like to strengthen?
  3. What opportunities present themselves around Christmas that we could participate in? With what group of people would you consider asking to join you in this?
  4. If we were to give of ourselves sacrificially during this time, how would we explain our decisions about this to our loved ones? What would this show them about our view of Christmas?
  5. Greg pointed us to Isaiah 26:3. Where does true security lie? What must we truly believe for this to be reassuring to us?