The Strength of Shrewdness

Dr. Steve Viars July 29, 2012 Luke 16:1-17

The perspicuity of Scripture – "clear in statement and expression, easily understood, lucid."

1 John 2:27 - As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Acts 17:10-11 - The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.  Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

2 Peter 3:14-16 - Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:18 - but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Isaiah 55:8-9 - For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

2 Timothy 2:15 - Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

I. Unraveling the Puzzles of the Text

A. What was/is a steward/manager?

B. What had this steward done and what was going to happen to him?

v. 1 - this manager was reported to him for squandering his possessions

v. 2 - Give an accounting of your management, because you can no longer be manager

C. How, if at all, does this fit into the gospel of Luke?

Luke 15:13 - And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.

D. What did the manager decide to do?

Luke 16:5-7 - And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, “How much do you owe my master?” And he said, “A hundred measures of oil.” And he said to him, “Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.”  Then he said to another, “And how much do you owe?” And he said, “A hundred measures of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill, and write eighty.”

Luke 16:3 - The manager said to himself, “What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg.”

E. Was this manager's behavior ethically correct?

v. 5 - How much do you owe my master?

v. 8 - “the unrighteous manager”

F. How did the master respond?

Luke 16:8 - And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

G. What does that tell us about this master?

Psalm 49:6 -        Even those who trust in their wealth and boast in the abundance of their riches?

Psalm 49:16-20 - Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him.  Though while he lives he congratulates himself— and though men praise you when you do well for yourself— He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they will never see the light. Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, is like the beasts that perish.

H. Why does the passage continually refer to money as “unrighteous wealth”?

cf. v. 9 and 11

v. 14 - Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money…

II. Focusing on Jesus' Main Theme

A. Jesus is commending the quality of shrewdness

Luke 16:8 - And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.

Shrewd - 1. evil, bad, mischievous, shrewish; 2. keen-witted, clever, or sharp in practical affairs; astute, the usual common sense; 3. keen, piercing, sharp

B. Shrewd people make decisions with an eye on the future

Luke 16:4 - I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.

C. Invest your financial resources with an eye on eternity

Luke 16:9 - And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.

D. Recognize that money is a small test that if passed, leads to greater opportunities for impact

Luke 16:10-12 - He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

E. Understand that your use of material possessions reveals the nature and identity of your God

Luke 16:13 - No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

III. Identifying Applications for You and Me Today

A. Learn to find your joy and satisfaction in the Person and work of Christ

Psalm 42:1 - As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.

B. Develop the art of contentment

1 Timothy 6:6-10 - But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

C. Establish a budget and learn how to joyfully live within it

Proverbs 6:6-8 - Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.

D. Avoid unnecessary debt on depreciating items

Proverbs 22:7 - The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

E. Look for opportunities to invest in things that will matter for eternity

1. your time

2. your giftedness

1 Peter 4:10 - As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

3. your financial resources

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video