Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus
great teaching on a puzzling parable
Does the parable of the shrewd manager make you squirm? Are you puzzled by Jesus' command to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves? (Matt.10:16)
You've probably read the parable in Luke 16:1-8. The shrewd manager is commended by Jesus. Have you wondered why Jesus told the story and how he could possible commend the dishonest manager?
We've been told Ã¢ÂÂshrewdÃ¢ÂÂ is an ugly word. We've been told that, as Christians, we are to be Ã¢ÂÂnice.Ã¢ÂÂ
Lawrence says we must separate shrewd from its negative connotations. He writes, Ã¢ÂÂApplying the right amount of force at the right place at the right time is exactly how shrewd works.Ã¢ÂÂ (27)
Jesus is Ã¢ÂÂtelling us that we must beat Satan (and those in his service) at his own game by practicing a greater level of shrewdness than he does, but with none of his cruel intent or evil motivation.Ã¢ÂÂ (34)
Shrewdness Ã¢ÂÂ understanding how things work, then leveraging that knowledge to apply the right force in the right place at the right time.
Innocence Ã¢ÂÂ freedom from guilt of any kind. (34)
Lawrence helps us identify the habits that will help us understand how things work. He gives a six step simple path to shrewd living.
Ã¢ÂÂIf we are not shrewd, Jesus warns, we stand no chance against the carnivorous momentum of the one who 'prowls around...seeking someone to devour' (1 Peter 5:8).Ã¢ÂÂ (152)
You've probably never heard a sermon on this essential parable. I learned so much from this book! I highly recommend it.
October 1, 2012
A Way To Apply A Hard Command From Jesus To Our Li
Rick Lawrence in his new book, Ã¢ÂÂShrewdÃ¢ÂÂ published by David C. Cook gives us Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus.
From the Back Cover: ItÃ¢ÂÂs the one Bible story you wonÃ¢ÂÂt hear in church.
It doesnÃ¢ÂÂt seem to make sense: Jesus tells his disciples to take a lesson from Satan himself.
A scandalous idea? Yes. Essential to the Christian life? Definitely.
Drawing on JesusÃ¢ÂÂs parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16, Rick Lawrence explores JesusÃ¢ÂÂs shocking mandate to be as shrewd as Satan and as innocent as the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus implies, if we are going to be any good for the Kingdom of God, weÃ¢ÂÂve got to be a lot shrewder than we are now.
Shrewd shows us how Jesus was naturally shrewd in every encounter he had, using leverage such as laughter, generosity, and bluntness to influence a situation for good.
God calls us to be shrewd without evil intent, just as Jesus was. Because the truth is that we have no salvation outside of the holy shrewdness of a loving God. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs a scandalous story worth telling.
The Dictionary defines shrewd as, Ã¢ÂÂmarked by clever discerning awareness and hardheaded acumen.Ã¢ÂÂ I have to admit the parable in Luke chapter 16 is not one of my favorites. Jesus is telling the story and He tells us flat-out at the beginning that the manager is unjust. As the story unfolds we find him acting even more unjust. Yet, at the end of the story, this unjust manager is praised by his master. Then Jesus tells His disciples that they should be shrewd like that manager. He tells them shrewd like a serpent, wise like a dove. Pastor Lawrence has done it again. He has taken a hard teaching from Jesus and make it not only easy to understand but easy to apply to our lives. He has taken the negative connotation out of the word and just made it useful. We need to understand that this is a command from Jesus so not only do we need to understand the parable but we need to apply it to our lives as well. Pastor Lawrence in Ã¢ÂÂShrewdÃ¢ÂÂ has made that possible. Shrewdness, then, is a way of living and relating that Jesus first modeled for us, then commanded us to do likewise. I guarantee you this is not a book you can only read once then put it on the shelf and forget about it. You will come back to it again and again. Everyone should have a copy of this book. It will help immensely!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from David C. Cook for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255: Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
September 3, 2012
More Nuanced Approach Needed
I was intrigued by Shrewd precisely because you donÃ¢ÂÂt hear a lot surrounding this topic. But I was disappointed on the delivery for two reasons. First, the premise is built upon a misunderstanding of the two passages which use the word shrewd (Matthew 10 & Luke 16). Second, and closely related, because the foundation was shaky you never got a crisp definition of what he means by Christian shrewdness.
LetÃ¢ÂÂs addresses my first objection. Matthew 10:16 says, Ã¢ÂÂBehold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.Ã¢ÂÂ This verse is in the context of persecution and shepherding JesusÃ¢ÂÂs flock in the midst of wolves. So the command to be wise as a serpent it seems most natural to connect with dealing with the wolves mentioned and the innocent (harmless) as doves connects with dealing with the sheep. Lawrence in the book tries to make the connection between serpent and Satan and dove and the Holy Spirit but Matthew doesnÃ¢ÂÂt seem to make that connection (pp. 34-35).
Luke 16 Jesus tells a parable about the dishonest manager who is about to getting fired so he settles his masterÃ¢ÂÂs debts for half price and saves his job. Jesus immediately provides the point of the parable. Jesus says, Ã¢ÂÂ I tell you, use the riches of this world to help others. In that way, you will make friends for yourselves. Then when your riches are gone, you will be welcomed into your eternal home in heavenÃ¢ÂÂ (v. 9). Rick suggest Jesus was praising the servantÃ¢ÂÂs dishonesty as a positive model of shrewdness (pp. 153-54) but that line of thought misses the point which Jesus explicit teaches in verse 9.
Now the second objection. The word shrewd rarely occurs and where it does is constrained by the context of these scenarios. It seems then unnatural to lift up this one quality as ultimate for Christian living. I do applaud RickÃ¢ÂÂs push back on the idea that Christians should just be naive and nice. A kind of simple minded pushover (pp. 45-50). But because of the confusion over the first point and the stretching of the intent the definition of shrewd never comes across clearly. Rick frequently references (pp. 24-27) studying the situation and applying pressure with levers (last 50 pages) and coming at the situation sideways (pp. 142-151). One selection demonstrates the kind of tension due to the unnatural use of these texts and the word shrewd. Rick says,
There are few things we hate more than feeling like someone is playing us for the fool. Even more, we abhor the thought that we might be playing someone for a fool. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs just not . . . Christian. Shrewdness is a breach of our social contract with each other--our innate agreement to treat others as weÃ¢ÂÂd like to be treated (p. 50 see also p. 143).
Rick seems to be suggesting playing someone would be the Christian thing to do. After finishing the book I was disappointed because I felt like there was something there worth exploring but the presentation and emphasis was all wrong. The something there came out when he made statements like,
This same dynamic was at work in the mother of all shrewd encountersÃ¢ÂÂwhen the Trinity plotted the over- throw of Ã¢ÂÂthe ruler of this world,Ã¢ÂÂ winning back GodÃ¢ÂÂs beloved from the kingdom of darkness. When Jesus willingly gave up His life as a sacrifice for all, defeating the claims of Satan and stripping him of his authority and power, He knew His Enemy had grown soft after countless millennia spent killing, stealing, and destroying with only spotty resistance. Though the sacrifice was inestimable and the pain was incalculable, it was a relatively easy turn of the wrench for the Sensei of Shrewd. (p. 161 see also p. 61)
But unfortunately the potential didnÃ¢ÂÂt out weight misunderstanding of shrewdness.
September 3, 2012
A Little De-Centering for the Soul
A good spiritual director, like a good masseuse, causes the right kind of pain. In Shrewd, Rick Lawrence does just that--de-centers us so that we can be centered on what matters most.
August 18, 2012