, Muskogee, OK

April 3, 2013

Fort Faith: The Bible says to serve God like a thief

— By Barrett Vanlandingham

It’s a strange thought at first. But when you think about how thieves operate, it makes sense that the Bible would devote an entire parable to the idea of serving the Lord with at least as much effort as a dishonest person puts into getting ahead.

In Luke 16:1-13 we are told the parable of the shrewd manager (AKA dishonest steward). His master found out that he had been wasting his possessions, so the master was going to fire him.

The unrighteous manager was too ashamed to beg for a living, and was not strong enough to dig. So he told one man who was in debt to the master to cut half off the bill before paying it.

He told another debtor to cut twenty percent off his bill. This, he felt, would cause those people to welcome him into their houses after he lost his job.

In the end, the dishonest servant got the majority of the debts repaid to his master, and even better, he probably got to hold on to his job!

In this parable Jesus says, “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light (Luke 16:8).”

So why in the world would the Bible include such a story? As with all parables, they are not meant to be dissected to assign special meaning to every word, but rather take the overall meaning or point that Jesus is trying to make.

For Christians, there is a very good message that we can apply to our daily walk.

A thief is constantly scheming and thinking of strategies to rip people out of their hard earned possessions. They watch, wait, & listen for opportunities. They network and get help from friends to accomplish their task.

Christians should be just as diligent in matters of spiritual warfare. “Therefore be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).”

Jesus is definitely not telling us to be deceptive in winning souls and serving people for the wrong reasons. In fact, Jesus warns strongly against those types of practices and against doing things for our own glory (ref: Matthew 6).

One thing you can be sure of is that the devil has a well thought out plan for your life. Do you? God does.

But just like the dishonest manager, Christians must be determined and persistent. Constant prayer and trusting God with our decisions is a great place to start. Daily Bible study provides a great foundation for your faith.

And finally, putting your faith into action will be encouraging to you, to others, and shows obedience to God. Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or