“There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property” (Lk. 16:1-13). The manager was summoned, questioned regarding the unfavorable report, asked to give an account of all his dealings, and then told he would no longer be manager. His prospects were grim.
The manager thought, “What will I do, now that my master is taking my position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg” (Lk. 16:3). The manager then made plans. Summoning his master’s debtors, the manager removed his commission from their bond. Effectively, he left intact the debt owed to the master, and thereby did not cut into the master’s profit. Canceling only his own commission, he hoped to ingratiate himself with the master’s debtors “so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes” (Lk. 14:4).
This is not, to be sure, a flawless reconstruction. The important point is this: “His master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light” (Lk. 16:8). Let the children of light secure their future with a careful assessment of the times and set forth a plan! This will require the use of dishonest wealth (perhaps all wealth in a fallen world?) and interactions among varied persons to establish alliances and friendships. The work will not always be easy, nor will every plan feel “pure.” The children of light must be shrewd in dealing with the children of this age. Indeed, the children of light are themselves, in some measure, children of their time. It is a matter of calling upon one’s New Self in Christ for higher and more noble work, and remaining flexible in laying out a plan in this fallen world.
Plan for the future! Start here! “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (I Tim. 2:1-2). Supporting the authorities by our prayers, we may be allowed to live peaceably, and bear witness to our Savior, “who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). This plan, suitable for most times, may need augmentation in other times. The plan must be revised as circumstances change. Christian witness in society will change and it should change with shrewd, albeit loving, calculation.
We are to pray for the world and work in the world with intelligence. Additionally, we might add to our plan a program of praise, a lifting up of our heart to God, regularly and systematically. Praise is a special witness to our new life as children of the risen Lord. “Hallelujah! Give praise, you servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be blessed, from this time forth and for ever more” (Ps. 113:1-2). Even this plan must be adapted as necessary. Seven times a day or seven million times a day, “From the rising of the sun to its going down let the name of the Lord be praised” (Ps. 113:3). The ceaseless prayer of the heart is a prudent plan.
Be in the world for Christ with all the resources of discernment and intelligence. Test everything. Praise God with a willing heart. Do not be outdone by the shrewdness of the children of this age. Be wise as serpents and tender as doves.
Look It Up: Lk. 16:8.
Think About It: Assess, plan, and adapt.