Calculating the Cost 101

“The foundation supports the full weight of the structure” ; “The house foundation is the system on which the home sits”  (askthebuilder.com).

We are going to look today at what the Bible has for us when we begin the steps of “Calculating the Cost 101“:

“For which of you, wishing to build a farm building (a), does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it.  Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him,  Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish”   (Luke 14:28, 29, 30–Amplified Bible). [ a. James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary]

COUNTING THE COST

When any of us begin a project, at home, work or church, we count the cost.  We estimate whether or not we can afford to complete it.  Or at least we should do that before we begin.  Jesus gives us the example of building a tower or in the Amplified Bible “a farm building“.

If a man was not to count the cost, went ahead and started building the structure, and had to stop, he would be ridiculed.

LIVING IN THE KINGDOM

When people around you find out you are a Christian, and that’s a good thing, they are going to be watching you.  Just like the builder of this farm-house.  It’s not going to be easy “leaving” your old lifestyle for the things of God.

Let us say you are going to build a block of apartments in your community, rent them to people and make a lot of money.  It’s been your dream, your goal as you begin the project in faith.  You have a good job, you’re confident in arranging finances for the construction.  The bulldozers are lined up and the foundation begins to take form.

What if, in the middle of the project, suddenly you lose your job and you can’t pay the loan back?  Or if you projected a cost, then made a wrong calculation.  It says here in Luke 14:28, before you start something like this, sit down with proper accountants and cost analysts for the projection.  Because if you start putting up half a block of apartments, or a building or even a barn, and you stop building because of bad finances, everyone in the neighborhood is going to laugh at you.  You might say, “So what! I don’t care if they are laughing.”

Jesus was essentially saying that the Christian life in the Kingdom of God is like that.  If you decide to become a Christian, people are going to watch you; if you decide that it is too difficult, and you no longer have the enthusiasm to continue.  Over my Christian life and experiences, I have seen many foundation started without completed structures built upon the concrete footings. That’s not good for non-believers to witness.  God not only wants us to start something, He also wants us to finish it!  Remember Jesus’ disciple warning in Luke 14:27.

“QUALITY” FIRST THEN “QUANTITY”

In The Book of Acts, we see the same foundation of church building principles: “quality first, then quantity

“And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper].  They par-took of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all people”  (Acts 2:47–Amplified Bible).

There you are church!  Pick out the priorities, the principles of good foundation building in that quoted verse.

“and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved” (verse 47-b).

STEWARDSHIP IS A “RELATIONAL ISSUE”

Stewardship IS a relational issue between God and us and part of foundation:

“EXCEPT THE Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it”  (Psalm 127:1).

Let us not get so caught up in the building process that we forget whose in charge here; the real Builder of the foundation!  We are but “managers” or “stewards” in the process.

“But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it”  (2 Timothy 2:19).

The “of” is not subjective (i.e., consisting of the prophets and apostles), but objectively (i.e., “laid by the apostles, etc.).  So where am I going here?  I want to let you know, the foundation is NOT the church! Christ is the strong foundation on which the church is built upon:

“[Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others],  In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed”  (1 Timothy 6:18, 19–Amplified bible).

FINANCIAL PLANNING: BUILDING ON THE FOUNDATION

Having a well-designed budget protects us from making impulsive purchases.  It also protects us from misplaced priorities when there is no goal in mind.  We spend money where the pressure is the greatest.  An individual asks, “What is the biggest need; what is my strongest desire?”  Rather than, “What does the Lord want me to do with my income?”

Luke 14:27 says, “Whoever does not persevere [doesn’t quit] and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.”

Those who fail to plan often find that they have no funds left to accomplish the Lord’s will.  Believers may miss out on opportunities to help others, support missions and serve God in other ways when their finances are not in order.

FINANCIAL PLANNING PROTECTS US FROM INDEBTEDNESS

Some people get into trouble spending impulsively, running up their credit card balance.  Others occur debt because they fail to plan how to use their God-given resources.  In a typical month, they spend everything they earn!

When my wife and I were being raised in the 1940’s and 1950’s, our parents seldom or never spoke in front us about financial planning.  In Dianne’s house, her parents never spoke in front of her about financial planning; they paid “cash” for everything.  In my house, mom was the ‘budgeteer’, the ‘vacation planner’, the ‘wizzard of expenditures’.  She would explain how our family could afford a vacation that year; she would “Rob Peter to pay Paul”!  And no, that isn’t biblical!  She would later have to pay Peter back, but she knew exactly how to budget for it.  At the time, I thought she was amazing and she was!

A year after I was married in 1964, my mom asked Dianne, “Have you ever planned a budget before?”  Dianne knew that if something cost, you would need the income, the money to pay for it.  But an actual budget or financial plan? Her answer would be,”NO!”

I believe that a household financial plan or budgeted expense should be a mandatory curriculum; “Foundation Building 101” in high school before graduating.  Statistics say finances are the number one cause of divorce in this country.  Married couples argue more over money than any other subject; sex, child-rearing, etc. 

What is a ‘wisely planned budget’?  It sets aside money for future expenses!  Sounds easy doesn’t it?  Then how come people are budgeting in the negative; causing bankruptcy and failed businesses almost daily?

Bankruptcy filings actually declined this year, falling 11 percent for the first nine months of 2011.  However, filings reached more than 1.06 million thru September in 50 states and the District of Columbia.  How does those numbers happen?  Today, neighbors aren’t laughing at the bankruptcy filings but are wondering how they got in such a position.  Were they building on the wrong foundation to start with?  Maybe!

“(10)According to the grace (the special endowment for my task) of God bestowed on me, like a skillful architect and master builder I laid [the] foundation, and now another [man] is building upon it.  But let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it,  (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”  (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11; 12-14–Amplified Bible).

MOM’S BUDGETING EXAMPLE

My wife and I have been following this example for almost forty-seven years now; no computer, no accountant, just a practical, common sense tip to building on the foundation; calculating the cost

Mom had been taking care of my expenses; cashing my paychecks, paying my bills and giving me what was left, to do what I wanted to do [from the age of 17 to the age of 22].  Mom sat down at the kitchen table one day with my 20-year-old bride, a pencil and a sheet of paper.  Because I got paid every week, she divided the sheet of paper into four quarters.  We are using this Master Budget plan to this day except the paper is divided in half [paid twice per month].

Mom gave Dianne the amount of what I earned each week and what my expenses had been:

1.  Income

2.  Expenses: Rent, gasoline, food, utilities, insurances, etc.

She explained that our future rent should NOT exceed 25 % of our income.  Anything left over after paying the expenses could be considered “extra” spending money.  That was the master plan!

Over our married life, there were times there wasn’t anything “extra” left over; lost income to unemployment, children’s needs, etc., etc….But, we stuck to the budget!  It’s hard not to want extra things in your family but you have to calculate the cost before spending what you don’t have!.  As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail!”  Here is another cliché:  “If you throw darts and aim at nothing, you will hit nothing every time!”

The apostle Paul reminds us and encourages us by saying,

“May the God of your hope so fill you with ALL JOY and PEACE in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.    Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with ALL [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also”  (Romans 15:13-14–Amplified Bible).

Here is your chance to begin calculating the cost of building on a strong foundation; laying up “a good foundation for the future” (2 Timothy 2:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:19). 

Don’t be like the man who is remembered by his mistake of not building on a strong foundation of Christ Jesus:

“This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish”  (Luke 14:30).