But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 (NIV).
One of the verses my Concordia reference cites for 1 Thessalonians 5:5 is Luke 16:8, which is the verse in the parable of the shrewd manager where Jesus talks about how the shrewd manager was commended by his creditor for acting wisely according to the ways of the world. The manager was astute and sharp about practical things – debts – that were owed to his boss. He did this to gain standing with people because he realized his position in the world was in danger.
Have you considered that Jesus gives us faith to be shrewd with it? We are to be generous, outgoing, joyous, giving, sharing, submissive, and loving in how we share our faith, yet we are also to be astute and wise. The devil is often called “the prince of this world” because he has set himself up as the ultimate authority, the ruler, of all things earthly. Even though it isn’t so and even though he has already been supplanted through eternity, it is also still a fact with which we must deal here. In being bold warriors for Christ, we are tasked with using our faith wisely, sharply, astutely as we defeat the many tactics of the evil one.
That means being wise around each other. If a friend is weak in faith, we should do things to build them up, encourage them, be a friend to them. If a friend is strong in faith, we should find ways to support their mission. If someone wrongs us, we should always examine ourselves to see if there is indeed wrongdoing in our response or ourselves, and then we should readily forgive and seek understanding. These are behaviors that are wise, measured, and prudent – you know: shrewd – for God’s people to exhibit when interacting with each other, especially if the other person doesn’t follow Jesus. Such shrewd, wise behavior may just be a way Jesus can use to touch their heart.
Why would we want that? Yes, it’s even Godly to ask this, and you know the answer: because God loves all people and wants all to be saved. Eternity matters most, both being part of eternity now and an eternity with Jesus and His followers forever. Have we considered that those who don’t follow Jesus are in darkness? When the end of time comes, it will come as a surprise to them. They’ll be caught thinking “but I need more time.” Living our lives wisely, shrewdly, lovingly is the best witness we can give each other so that they will begin to walk with Jesus now, and rejoice when He returns instead of cowering in dark fear.
For further reading: Luke 16:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:6.
Lord, I live in Your light. Constantly teach me to be shrewd with my faith so that You may use my days to reach others.