I ended the prior post in this series in the middle of the Parable of the Shrewd Manager, where the manager realizes he’s going to be fired and is trying to decide what he can do to build strong relationships with people before he is fired.
What the manager does is call in his employer’s customers and in their presence he reduces their bills. He does this in their presence so they know he is the person blessing them financially. Luke 16:5-7.
The manager was still employed when he reduced these bills, so as between the customer and the manager’s employer, it was a binding transaction.
It’s here that Jesus makes His point. First Jesus says the rich man praised his dishonest manager for his shrewdness and then Jesus notes that non-Christians are more shrewd in dealing with other non-Christians than are Christians. Luke 16:8. Jesus is criticizing, not complimenting, Christians.
Next, Jesus makes the main point from the story, which builds on the first point, and that is that Christians should use their workplace to make friends with non-Christians. Luke 16:9.
What’s interesting is that Jesus focuses on the fact the manager made friends with people. Jesus does not even mention sharing the Gospel with them. Jesus says to make friends with people so they will welcome you into heaven. It’s almost as if Jesus assumes if you focus on loving people and building relationships with people their salvation will follow so naturally Jesus doesn’t even need to address witnessing.
It’s not that sharing the Gospel is not important; it is essential. But to start with sharing the Gospel before building a relationship is to get the cart before the horse. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care, and that is why caring should usually come before sharing. So, that is where Jesus starts, and that is what He emphasizes in the parable. It is interesting also that what the religious leaders accused Jesus of was being a friend of tax collectors and sinners, not of ministering to them, although Jesus obviously did both.
The first lesson to be drawn from this parable about workplace evangelism is that Christians should see their workplace and their extended workplace as an opportunity for building relationships. That is what the shrewd manager did. His extended workplace was not just the office where he worked, but it extended to his employer’s customers. He used that opportunity to build relationships with those customers, and it is this that Jesus lauded and encouraged Christians to emulate.
In the next post, I will reveal the second lesson about workplace evangelism from the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. GS