Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shrewdness (03/07/05)
TITLE: Shrewdness; Is It a Good Thing?
By Delores Baber
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Suppose you overhear someone say this about you, “Well, there’s one thing you need to know about old Bob, he’s extremely shrewd.”
What would you imagine his meaning to be? Words are filled with nuances and undertones. Was that a compliment he just paid you, or a warning to the person he was talking with to watch out for you?
There are some very positive ways it could be meant. He could be telling his friend that you are clever, on the ball, smart. But sometimes the word shrewd has a negative nuance. Let’s put this word into some context:
• He’s so shrewd he’d make a great used car salesman.
• He’s so shrewd he should get into politics.
• Before you play poker with him, let me clue you in, he is very shrewd.
• I go to him for advice because he’s a shrewd guy.
• You make not like the way he does things, but you’ve got to admit he’s shrewd.
Now as you look over the list how many seem to use the term in a positive way?
The meaning for the word shrewd
Shrewd (adj.) astute, sharp, on the ball, smart, perceptive, insightful, wise, clever, cunning, wary, and crafty are just some of the words that describe shrewdness.
Those appear to be good qualities, with the possible exception of “cunning, crafty.”
Con games are usually successful if the person is shrewd in a cunning, crafty way.
But CEO’s are usually successful if the person is shrewd in an astute, insightful way.
Here are a couple of examples we find in the scripture that shows both perspectives.
Example of shrewdness being used for wrong.
. The first mention is found in Genesis 3:1 “The serpent was the craftiest of all the creatures the Lord God had made.” NIV So how did he use this ability? To deceive a couple right out of their own garden, sweet with fruit and fellowship. The serpent was the first con artist. He used his shrewdness to deceive. Eve describes how she felt about her contact with the serpent. Genesis 3:13 NIV “. . . The serpent tricked me.” Maybe you have had a bad experience with a shrewd con artist. Think about how that experience affected you?
Example of shrewdness being used in a positive way.
Jesus is about to send his disciples out to minister to others. They were to be without defense, even when confronted by men who would desire to harm them. What was our Lord’s advice as to how to handle opposition? Matthew 10:16 NIV “I am sending you forth as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Both examples refer to a serpent. But is this case our Lord tells His followers, “Like a serpent, be wise, but unlike a serpent, be harmless. No Cons, no tricks; but take advantage of a situation wisely, to maximize your ability to ministry in a godly manner.
So, if you possess shrewdness, do you see it as a quality with which to trick or deceive others or do you, like our Lord, intend it to be a helpful, useful way to be effective in being a positive resource to others? When God enables us with the ability to be shrewd remember that He will also hold us accountable for the manner in which we use it.
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