Being Spiritually Shrewd
In Luke 16: 1-9, Jesus tells an extremely interesting parable, about a dishonest manager who is caught wasting his master’s money, but finds a clever way to come out ahead even when he loses his position.
This parable can be very confusing at first glance, because it appears to praise the dishonest manager for squandering even more of his master’s wealth, for his own gain. The master whom he defrauded commends him “because he had acted shrewdly,” and Jesus comments that “the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”
When the manager realizes that his life as he currently knows it is about to end, he makes use of everything he has in that present position to prepare for his future. What the disciples were meant to take from this, and what we need to take from it, is that we need to come to a similar realisation about our current state of life.
Our life on this earth will come to an end, just like the manager’s comfortable position. While we have the opportunity, we must be shrewd with the resources available to us to prepare for our future home.
When we look at state of the world, particularly in the ‘culture wars’ going on in modern society, it’s clear that Our Lord’s words still ring true. Those who advance an agenda of moral relativism, hedonism, and license are eminently shrewd, and they use the means available for gain at every opportunity. The result has been a stunning transformation of society.
Being Spiritually Shrewd
In light of recent events in the United States, a lot of people are thinking about how to react, and how to fight back. If we want to serve God in modern society, and evangelize our culture, we need to consider some ways of being spiritually shrewd.
Being shrewd means having good judgement, making intelligent choices, doing what is most effective for our goals. If we want to be spiritually shrewd, we need to stop putting too much emphasis on the worldly battleground, because that is the arena where our enemy invests his strength. It doesn’t take a military genius to tell us that we need to fight where we are strong, and our enemy is weak.
4 Ways of Being Spiritually Shrewd:
1. Love your enemies
Perhaps Our Lord’s most controversial and hardest teaching. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
For a long time, Christians have had it easy in western nations. Being Christian has often been the way to be honoured and respected in society. Now, the tables have turned, and if you live a Christian life, you are certain to be hated for it. Lets rise to the challenge of being real Christians, and be tenacious in loving our enemies. This means not just praying for them (though it does mean that), it also means loving them in action. It means actively looking for ways to wash the feet of our betrayer, as Christ did.
2. Offer up your sufferings
All of us who strive to live the faith publicly have, and will continue to suffer for it. This is the reality of our calling, but God makes suffering a blessing for us. This is part of the wisdom of God, which is “folly to those who are perishing.” But it is in this way that God allows us to unite ourselves to Christ.
“For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.”
3. Carry out your Christian witness all the more, when it contrasts with the culture
Whenever the culture moves away from God, the need for people to return to the Church becomes more apparent.
If our society no longer respects the rights and dignity of all human beings, then let us take courage in the fact that our unshakable respect for those values will become more obvious, and attract people back to the faith.
4. Become more detached from the cares and concerns of the world
If we no longer have the opportunity to live in a society that honours the human family and offers protection and help to it, let’s take the opportunity to detach ourselves from the luxury of that help. God’s grace has always been sufficient for us and our families. Let’s take the opportunity to show that the human family doesn’t need a government or court’s permission to exist and thrive.
All of these are simple (but not easy) ways to take the defeats that the Church and her members may suffer in the world, and turn them into victory. Although we know Christ has won the final victory already, in our time on earth we must be willing to work out our salvation and make disciples, despite the sorry state of the world. God knows we can never be shrewd enough to outsmart the demonic intellect of the enemy, but he gives us all the means to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”, and to overcome the world by his grace.