The dictionary defines the word shrewd as “having sharp powers of judgment.” In the Greek language, which is what the New Testament was written in, the word is phronimōs. This Greek word translates into English as “wise.”
The Message Bible translation helps us understand what Jesus taught about shrewdness. There are six phrases that the Message translation uses to define the shrewd manager that Jesus commended in Luke 16. I hope these phrases provide some clarity for your understanding and some application for your financial life.
The shrewd person is:
On constant alert — They know there are many pitfalls in the area of finances. They watch out for greed, vanity, waste, fear, forbidden pleasures, seasons of plenty, seasons of want. They try to find the razor's edge between generosity and taking care of their own. They stay vigilant to find a good balance between enjoyment and self-control. They are not seduced by the advertisements around them or the subtle temptations within.
Looking for angles — They know there are opportunities all around them. They know the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. They do not adhere to a scarcity mindset, but know that with God there is always plenty. At the same time they know there are people trying to con them—and they are wise to that.
Surviving by their wits — They know prayer is important, but they also know God has given them a brain to figure things out. They know that they must have a plan and a strategy to do well financially. They know that if you don’t aim at a target you will rarely hit it.
Using adversity to stimulate creative survival — Instead of giving up when things go bad or get hard, they find a way to get creative. When they don’t have enough or don't have what they need, they make it work. They are not afraid to stop something that becomes unproductive. They take advantage of the hard times through ingenuity and grit.
Concentrating attention on bare essentials — They live inside of their means. When they have a lot, they spend a lot. When they have less, they actually adjust and spend less. They understand the difference between want and need, between God’s dream and the American dream. You could take a lot away from them and they would still be able to find joy, peace and friendship.
Not getting by on good behavior alone — They work hard. They do what is asked of them and then surprise everyone by doing something more beneficial to the organization than what was asked of them. They don’t just do the bare minimum, they go the extra mile. They don’t play it safe, but take risks intended to benefit the whole team they are working with.
The shrewd person that God the Father will commend is the one who understands these things and carries them out faithfully through all the seasons and tides of life. The shrewd person knows that what they do with what they now have greatly effects what they will do and have in the future. They know that if they are faithful in the little, God will know they can be faithful over a lot.
So, I pray today that you and I would be found rich in the economy of heaven. That we would spend some money and time on things that may not benefit us now, but will bring great benefit to our next life with Jesus.