“So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16.8 NKJV).
Many of Jesus’ parables are difficult to understand because God wants us to dig in and search for the gems of truth. This is especially true for The Parable of the Shrewd Manager. Jesus was speaking before the religious leaders of the time, so His words hit many marks among the people as they still do today. The gist of the story is that there was a manager of a rich man’s estate, and the manager was unfaithful with his master’s money, squandering it selfishly. The master found out and told the manager to make account for his money handling because he was about to lose his job.
The manager knew he would be fired soon, so he roped all the people around him into multiplying the mismanagement of his master’s money. He made friends with others by allowing them to benefit from the exploitation of his master’s estate. In effect, the manager multiplied his unrighteousness beyond his personal life and into the lives of everyone in his sphere of influence.
When the master found out, he complimented the manager on one single truth: he had “dealt shrewdly” by multiplying his efforts. He was unrighteous with a little and became unrighteous with much.
Obviously, Jesus was pinpointing the religious leaders who were not only mismanaging the law for themselves, but they were entangling the Jewish people into unrighteousness, as well. The corruption in the religious systems of that day became extremely evident when Jesus went to the Temple and turned the tables because His House had become a “den of thieves” (Matthew 21.13). The religious leaders had been so cunning, intelligent and wise in the proliferation of their white-washed false piety that almost the entire Jewish nation had succumbed.
But there was a Voice in the Wilderness breaking through the lies, deception and ignorance that was layered thickly on the backs of the people, enslaved to the pride of God’s corrupt managers (Isaiah 40.3 and John 1.23). Finally, Jesus would form a new system of grace, which would be multiplied from within Himself to His disciples and onto the rest of the world.
Today we can glean several things from this The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1) As God’s managers, we need to be faithful with the grace God has given each of us in our personal lives, so we can multiply this faithfulness in the lives of those around us. “Whoever is faithful with very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much (Luke 16.10 HCSB).
2) As God’s managers, we must be shrewd (wise, intelligent, prudent) about our faith and multiply it to the people around us, freeing them from the enslavement of sin. The only way we can truly be shrewd is if we have the Mind of Christ. We can seek Him daily and renew our minds away from the systems of this dark world and into the systems of God’s Kingdom (1 Corinthians 2.16 and Romans 12.2).
3) As God’s managers, we should never make friends with people by exploiting God’s grace, saying what people want to hear even though it’s destroying their lives. This is actually multiplying unrighteousness. “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8.11 NIV).
4) As God’s managers, we should be about our Master’s business, not our own profit, glory, influence, platform and name. This doesn’t mean that God won’t bless us; it simply means that we seek His Kingdom first. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33 NIV).
5) As God’s managers, we must each rise up so the Church can rise up. Jesus said that “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9.37 NIV). Unrighteousness is being multiplied faster and with greater intensity than faithfulness. Division, pride and self-promotion is damaging the Church’s effectiveness. Our only hope is to abandon ourselves to God, giving Him total authority and presence. Only then we can breakthrough the walls of resistance for ourselves and others.
6) As God’s managers, we can’t just lead people to Christ and leave them there. Yes, they are saved, but we need multipliers–people who create faithfulness in the lives of those around them. People long to have a purpose, but many times they need spiritual “fathers” and “mothers” to guide them and set them in their Promise Land. Jesus modeled this when He took 12 disciples under His wing, and each one (replacing Paul for Judas the betrayer) multiplied the Kingdom of God insurmountably (Luke 6.12-16).
7) Finally, as God’s managers, we must look for a fresh Word from God each day. We cannot apply yesterday’s revelation to today’s need. Yes, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” but He is constantly moving His Kingdom purpose into fruition. We need to keep up or we will fall behind (Hebrews 13.8 NIV).