Stewardship #2: Who is Wiser?
In Jesus’ parable of the Unjust Steward, which we dealt with in the previous article in this series, Jesus made a statement that causes us to be startled and taken aback. He says that “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”
If you haven’t read the previous article, in order to get the background on this thought-provoking observation of Christians, I encourage you to read that article before you read this one. In the previous article we saw how the master commended his steward for his shrewdness when he had just bilked him out of a good share of the money his debtors owed him.
Why did Jesus make this unexpected statement? Why did the master in the story commend his devious steward who was in charge of his finances?
Jesus is saying that generally the natural, unsaved man who devotes his whole life to getting ahead in this world and who gives no concern whatsoever to matters of eternal consequence is actually shrewder in the matter of making money and getting ahead in this world than the Christian who does not make financial success his priority. Is that a true statement? O course it is! Jesus said so. What does that mean to us as Christians? We’ll attempt to answer that question in this article.
Children of Light or Children of Darkness?
Note the two groups of people to whom Jesus refers.
First, the Children of Light. That’s Christians who are walking in the light of God’s Word.
Secondly, the Children of this World. These are the unsaved whose whole life is centered on this world only. In contrast to Christians, they walk in spiritual darkness. So we could refer to them as the Children of Darkness. The father of the Children of Light is God. The father of the Children of Darkness is Satan.
In this article I will deal with:
1. God’s wisdom
2. Satan’s shrewdness or subtlety.
3. The wisdom or shrewdness of the unsaved.
4. The wisdom available to Christians
5. Why Jesus declared that the unsaved are shrewder than Christians.
There are many Scriptures to back up these points. I encourage you to look them up and read them to gain the full value of this study.
I. GOD’S WISDOM
It ought not to be difficult to believe that God is all wise. He founded and created this world by His wisdom. Proverbs 3:19-26 His wisdom is manifold. It is comprehensive, reaching into every area of life. Ephesians 3:8-10 His wisdom is unsearchable. Though we study God’s Word, no human can fully grasp it all, including the fullness of the doctrines of the Bible. When unbelievers come to difficulties in the Bible, they scorn His Word. When we Christians are confronted by things in the Bible that we cannot fully comprehend, we bow in worship before our omniscient, all-wise, Heavenly Father. Romans 11:33-38 Romans 16:27 Revelation 7:11-12
II. SATAN’S SHREWDNESS AND SUBTLETY
Satan, as Lucifer, the first and highest of God’s creation, was filled with wisdom and beauty. He became guilty of the sin of pride and attempted to be equal with God. The story of his fall is told in Ezekiel 28:12-29 and in Isaiah 14:12-17. After His fall we see him in the Garden of Eden subtly tempting Eve to listen to him and disobey God. Genesis 3:1-15 Satan’s servants, false teachers who corrupt and deny the Bible often appear as angels of light, leading people astray. They are master counterfeiters of God’s Word. II Corinthians 11:13-15 So Satan is the father of shrewdness and subtlety.
III. THE UNSAVED
In Genesis 3:1-6 we learn that Satan offers us his shrewdness if we will but listen to and succumb to his temptations. The natural man is limited to natural wisdom and shrewdness. We all have the ability to gain natural wisdom through instruction and through experience. But not all people have even natural wisdom. Some, we learn in Proverbs 1 are just plain stupid. They turn away from wisdom and ruin their lives.
Some of the worst criminals in prison are very worldy-wise and shrewd, though their hearts have been darkened by sin. Romans 1:21-25 teaches us that the natural man who rejects the Gospel soon finds himself on a downward slide to darkness and ruin.
IV. THE SAVED
Though not all Christians have God’s heavenly wisdom; it is available to them and only to Christians. How do we attain that wisdom from God?
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 9:10We fear God when we fear offending Him by our sins. That fear leads us to Christ who is our wisdom. I Corinthians 1:30 Colossians 2:3
We gain the wisdom of God as we diligently search His Word and as we judge everything we read or hear in the light of the Bible. Proverbs 2:1-6, 9:10, 10:14.
We also gain God’s wisdom by avoiding the fellowship and counsel of the ungodly. Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 13:20
We seek preachers and godly friends who will sharpen us by telling us things about ourselves that are sometimes painful to hear. These are among our best friends. Proverbs 27:5-6, 17 A friend who avoids telling us what we need to hear because he is afraid of offending us, is not a true friend. To refuse to listen to a friend because we disagree with him hinders us from being wise.
Humbly accept reproof. Proverbs 1:24-33, 12:1, 15:32, 17:10, 19:25,
Beware of being an unreachable, know-it-all person who is convinced he has nothing new to learn. Proverbs 26:12 G. Beware of despising a faithful Bible preacher who shows us truth from God’s Word that offends you. I Kings 22:8 True Bible preaching does not leave us with a mere theoretical knowledge of doctrine. That tends to make us proud. Rather, true Bible preaching affects how we live and it tends to humiliate us and discover depths of sin hidden in our heart; sin of which we were not even aware.
WHY DO CHRISTIANS TEND TO NOT BE AS SHREWD AS UNBELIEVERS?
First, let’s look at a dictionary definition of what it means to be shrewd. Acute in perception and judgment.Able in practical affairs.Discerning, judicious, (governed by sound judgment), far-sighted ability to see below the surface
A person can be shrewd in these senses, but if he is ungodly, he will use this ability to con people and take advantage of them. Though we as Christians want to avoid the negative aspects of shrewdness, we can and should be shrewd in the good sense of the word. Christians have the capacity to have both earthly wisdom, (shrewdness) as well as Heavenly wisdom.
Both types of wisdom are described in James 3:13-18 Why then are we not as shrewd as unbelievers?
1. We are cautiously aware of the dangers of worldy wisdom. We have learned to lean; not on our own wisdom, but on God. Proverbs 3:5-7, Isaiah 5:21 Rom. 12:16
2. If we tend to lean on both our natural, earthly wisdom as well as on heavenly wisdom, we tend to be unstable. James 1:5-8 These are the reasons perhaps why Jesus stated in Luke 16:8 that the children of this world tend to be wiser than the children of The Light.
Don’t be troubled by the fact that the unsaved tend to be more shrewd and clever than we are and that they seem to prosper more than we do. The Psalmist had this problem as it’s recorded in Psalm 73. Wisdom has more to do with our walk than with our knowledge. Cleverness and our success in life has more to do with Heavenly wisdom than shrewdness. Christian friend, take comfort that Christ is our wisdom. Colossians 2:3-10 In fact, we have the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:16 What more do we need?
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