A shrewd squanderer and swindler

In the blog yesterday, I talked about a class of shrewd consumers who choose to buy the expensive state-of-the-art products and then pay the difference between upgrading to the next generation of item and trading to get rid of the old one. In so doing they manage enjoy the latest innovation and avoid the situation of their old items sharply falling in value.

It is interesting that in yesterday's Gospel (Luke 16:1-13), Jesus told a parable about how a shrewd steward, after being told by his rich master that he would lose his position because he had squandered his master's property, went on to make use of his master's possession to befriend his master's debtors in the hope that they would take care of him when he lost his position. Upon finding out, his master commended him for his shrewdness.

This is a parable that I used to find rather confusing. Why is it that a manager who not only squandered but also swindled his master's wealth was commended? Did Jesus also commend him? It was after subsequent re-reading, reflecting and researching that I began to understand that he was commended by the master, who valued worldly material wealth just as much, not by Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, did remind the "children of light" (us?) not to follow the example of the dishonest "children of this world". Instead we should be "trustworthy in very small matters", make good use of our worldly wealth, and serve God rather than money.

Seen in this light, the act of making unnecessary purchases and consumption just for the love of it, while appearing to be shrewd, does not represent making good use of our worldly wealth.

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