Shrewd As Snakes 2 — Wise With Our Wealth
Updated: Jun 15
Chan Gin Kai
Jesus used the parable of a dishonest manager to craft learning points for his disciples. The motives of the manager may have been bad, but there are aspects of his character and mindset that we can learn from.
In our last article, we saw how we need to realise that we are accountable to God, have sober judgement of the mess we’re in, and take action to get out of it.
Today, we’ll learn how to use our wealth wisely.
Invest In The Eternal
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:8-9)
Jesus commented that the “people of this world” (non-Christians) are more shrewd in “dealing with their own kind” than the “people of light” (Christians) are. We may think that this is obviously natural considering they have more similarities in interests, lifestyles and agendas. But the very fact that Jesus addressed this issue shows that he felt otherwise.
Jesus attracted the “tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 15:1), so why can’t we? He was never financially wealthy, but he invested everything he had in the world — his time, energy, efforts and even his own life — into loving people. He won their hearts.
The world is good in winning people over. If companies, politicians and social media influencers can study trends, invest in marketing campaigns and even twist some facts to build their audience, how much more must we do to tell God’s truth?
They’re willing to go all out just to sell more products, gain more likes and win more votes; we’re doing it to win lost souls. They’re building worldly kingdoms that will crumble one day; we’re building God’s Kingdom and it will last forever.
Let’s work hard, and let’s do it smart too. Our “eternal dwellings” are worth our fullest effort. What talents and resources are we blessed with? How can we use these worldly wealth to gain friends for the Kingdom?
Trust The Trustworthy
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (Luke 16:10-12)
How people regard and handle worldly wealth are good indicators of whether we can trust them with “true riches”. We live in the physical world and it is inevitable that we will have to deal with material things. We will all make mistakes and fight our temptations for material wealth too.
But there are those who treasure worldly wealth more than everything else. There are those whose motives are self-seeking and their methods suspect. Some of these people even bring their dishonest ways to church, and treat the church as a fertile hunting ground.
The church becomes their marketplace and the congregation becomes their network. Their positions in church are their badges of assurance and their acts of service are promotional ploys. Sadly, many fall for their tricks. How can church leaders who are obsessed with health and wealth be trusted? Why do people give their money to leaders who stay in luxury villas and fly first class? We mustn’t trust leaders who serve themselves above others, especially in the handling of worldly wealth.
We have to be careful with ourselves too, that we do not become untrustworthy. We are not beyond temptation. If we succumb to the greed for worldly wealth, we will not be trusted with true riches too.
Serve One Master
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:13-15)
We cannot serve two masters. Devoting ourselves to one master is already difficult, devoting ourselves to two is impossible. Who or what do we pursue?
Yes, we can have great careers and make money. We can travel the world, be presidents, fight for the environment, and invent gizmos. We can labour for our ambitions and strive for our dreams, but we can only be DEVOTED to God.
The Pharisees were well known for their knowledge of Scriptures and they couldn’t have achieved that without spending a lot of time and putting in a lot of hard work to learn God’s words. But they loved money.
It is better to work hard for material things but be devoted to God, than to work hard for God but be devoted to material things.
When the Pharisees heard what Jesus taught, they sneered at him in a holier-than-thou way. They were confident because they knew people could see all their outward signs of piousness. But Jesus remarked that God knows their hearts.
God knows our hearts. That is scary to some, and comforting to others. When God looks into our hearts, what will He find?
Read more about ‘Shrewd As Snakes’:
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.