Playing it smart
Luke 16: I want you to be smart in the same way.
It’s an interesting story for Jesus to tell because the hero’s a crook. This guy mismanages his bosses’ money and then, when he’s caught he mismanages it some more in a quick witted move to find a soft landing elsewhere. Jesus doesn’t advocate that his followers be good at making shady deals, but he does urge us to play it smart. At one level I can respond by spiritualizing the story. That is I can come away having been reminded that I’m to be smart in how I go about the business of the Lord. For instance, I can use my wits to find ways to reach out to lost people and not just stand for the status quo all the time. However, I don’t think this is the primary application of this story. Rather, Jesus is talking about living smart, being alert to opportunities, and taking advantage of openings. When I see an investment opportunity I’m not to turn away piously declaring that “God will take care of me.” Rather, I’m to explore the possibility that the investment opportunity might be God’s way of doing just that. Jesus’ story isn’t a license for me to take unfair advantage of people but it is a reminder that Christians should live smart lives and not think we’re too spiritual to take advantage of legitimate opportunities that come our way.
Take Away: A person can be ethical in the highest sense of the word and still be a good in business.
Grabbing the gusto, looking to eternity
Proverbs 1: When you grab all you can get, that’s when it happens: the more you get, the less you have.
As I read this passage I can’t help but think of the beer commercial that tells us we only go ’round once in life so we’d better grab all the gusto we can. I actually think there’s some truth to that. Life is a gift of God filled with many wonderful opportunities and blessings. I can’t sit around talking about “pie in the sky” and get the most out of my life. There’s a lot of living to do right now. The wise man of the Proverbs, though, gives me the other side of that coin. If I make my life completely about living in the here and now, ignoring all that is yet to come, well, I’m setting myself up for a great fall. Life is more than “right now.” This life might be considered to be a warm up for eternity. So, grabbing the gusto can make sense, but that approach must be kept on a leash and not allowed to just run wild because there’s much more to our existence than just going ’round once. Or, as Jesus says in Matthew 6:20, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Take Away: One way to live the best life possible in the here and now is to live with an eye on eternity.
2Kings 10: God doing what, through Elijah, he said he’d do.
I don’t like reading the stories of uprisings, murders, and judgment found in the stories of Judah and Israel. Beheadings and assassinations somehow don’t make for good devotional reading! Still, there are some powerful themes in the story of Jehu’s uprising. God had judged Ahab’s sin years earlier, and even though he has, at times, blessed Israel with his help against her enemies, the Lord never overlooks what Ahab has continued doing. At the right time the Lord raises up Jehu to act in judgment on Ahab’s family. It’s bloody but it’s intended to give Israel a chance to return to the path that they left so long ago. Before Jehu’s finished Ahab’s family is destroyed and the altars of Baal are gone. In spite of all that, Jehu’s a disappointment. I see here that the Lord uses less than perfect vessels to accomplish his purposes. Also I’m reminded that no one has to fail. Jehu let a golden opportunity slip through his fingers.
Take Away: The Lord works in and through imperfect people to carry out his plans.