The shrewd manager, Jesus said, was about to be fired for wasting the master's possessions (Luke 16:1-15). In an act of desperation, he went to those who owed money to his master and reduced their debt- some as much as 50%. His reasoning went like this. Ashamed to beg, allergic to manual labor, he made friends who would provide for him once he lost his job. He used what he had now to provide for what he needed later. The master, already upset over wasted possessions, must now be even more angry. Right?
Turns out the master commended the servant for his shrewdness. By thinking quickly, the manager saved his job- the landowner wanted this kind of investor working for him. Try explaining that parable to your kid's Sunday School class. Jesus says the man was commended because he used worldly wealth to gain friends for himself so that he would be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
Paul's admonition to redeem the time fits here. "To redeem" in the middle voice of Biblical Greek means to buy something out of the marketplace for yourself. "Time" is not chronological time but the opportunities that come our way in time. Paul admonishes us to buy up earthly opportunities for ourselves in order to earn a heavenly reward. Like the shrewd manager.
Peter reminds us that there are two kinds of investment: Investment that will perish, spoil, or fade or investment that will wait as an inheritance for you beyond the reach of moth or rust. He is no fool who invests fading, rusting, rotting things in order to obtain eternal reward.
When Jesus commends the shrewd manager in his parable, he says the children of light need to learn from his shrewdness. This new year, may God help us find ways to invest what we have to make friends for eternity.