In 2 places, Jesus makes reference to a special type of wisdom. It's what translators do with the Geek word - er I mean Greek word "phronimos." Sometimes the word is translated as "wise" - but that's confusing since "wise" is also rendered when the Greek "sophos" is used.
There are 2 places where the word "shrewd" is used. One is Matthew 10:16, where Jesus says:
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."
The other place is in a parable about a fired worker who lies to former accounts to win their favor. It's found in Luke 16. Jesus' very perplexing conclusion is:
"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."
Here we go - like I love to do when I teach - - (I'm having serious withdrawals not having the opportunities now) I tear into both words. Sophos means "expert knowledge" - Phronimos means "practical knowledge." Anyone who knows me is acquainted on how I jump all over the opportunity to shuffle function high above form. Here's another chance.
Let's call the unnecessarily highly-paid engineer the sophos-user. He draws out and designs something that is supposed to fit or work effectively out in the field. Let's call the contractor or more appropriately his highly underpaid day-to-day seasoned foreman the phronimos-user. He takes his Saws-all, drill and screws left over from another project and ("There's your problem right there") gets the thing working correctly.
I like the phronimos version better.
I think the translators did only "OK" with using "shrewd." There's a much better word in our current vernacular that is more functional. It's the word "savvy." Let's try it:
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as savvy as snakes and as innocent as doves."
That's better. A snake is savvy. That's how it survives. It knows where to go or be in order to stay alive.
"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted savvy. For the people of this world are more savvy in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light."
Teena and Jeff are learning how to be more savvy. We wrote up a business plan in order to apply for a loan from a bank. Our small business consultant knows that we want to do ministry and that we want the coffee shop to be a major hook. But when he saw all the references to how we are going to go about ministry - blah, blah blah, he realized that the bankers probably won't get it. They think like snakes - survival, where to go and be.
So we've now revised our business plan since the people of this world are more savvy in dealing with their own kind day to day than are the people of the light. But we're maintaining a pure and innocent approach.