“...for which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost,
“...for which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it...” (Luke 14:28.)
Last year, across the United Kingdom, some 300-plus companies became bankrupt every week.
The reasons were as varied as the people who ran them, but two predominated.
First, the business failed to generate sufficient customers to enable it to carry the fixed overheads which are a characteristic of every business.
Second, too many customers were leaving the business with too few funds to carry the costs.
If only those entrepreneurs had listened to Jesus’ very practical advice many fewer would have gone down.
We tend to think of Jesus and his teaching as purely spiritual and moral, and indeed there is a great deal of this, but he was also very practical.
For a number of years, until he reached his thirties, Jesus was involved in the family business.
As the oldest of the brothers, as his father aged and began to take a reduced role in the running of the company, Jesus would have taken the leading role — and in so doing would have gained a lot of experience of the commercial world.
This experience was reflected in some of his parables. The one related to the three stewards given a sum of money by their master to use on his behalf ended with him instructing that the smallest sum given to one steward be taken from him and given to the one with the most. (Luke 19.)
This is a parable that has caused some heartache to many but it was simply based on the truth for that is the way the world works.
Across the UK there were, not all that long ago, many thousands of small corner shops dispensing groceries. Today they are all but extinct. Why? Because you and I chose to transfer our purchasing of groceries from the small man to the huge supermarket chains!
Again, Jesus spent much time attacking the rampant dishonesty and corruption of the authorities of his day. and earned for himself their unrelenting hatred.
Contrarily, he gained the support of the ordinary people who were at the receiving end of this dishonesty.
If Jesus’ teaching was primarily towards the spiritual, we fail to gain a true picture of him in his wholeness, if we leave out his pragmatism.
He understood, more clearly than any, that we live in a fallen world and his teaching and many of his parables reflect this. Always he spoke only the truth.
This old adage contains much that is still relevant today: “We are not called to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly use!”