Chapter 4 - Management
Probably the “toughest” section of this book for people to take is this one as it contains the unvarnished instructions of the boss of the Gospels. It should be no surprise that the words are often difficult, even impossible for most of us, to live by. This includes Trump as it includes most everybody else.
The economic lessons are sometimes difficult to discern though each passage has some basis in an economic axiom, and may be at odds with modern economic practice. This is where the “rubber meets the road” in terms of the metaphysical/philosophical meeting the physical realties of economics.
This section of the book breaks from the counting of words and tries instead to discuss categories of instructions.
Give Up and Follow
One of the most striking aspects of the Gospels is the way people have the tendency to drop everything they are doing and follow Jesus – on the spot. They drop their nets, their businesses, their jobs, their possessions, everything.
Matthew 4:19 He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 4:20 They left their nets immediately and followed him. 4:21 Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Then he called them. 4:22 They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.
Luke 5:27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. 5:28 And he got up and followed him, leaving everything behind.
And then Jesus tells them they need to drop even more, including their families, dead parents, everything - even their lives.
Mark 8:34 Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. 8:36 For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? 8:37 What can a person give in exchange for his life?
Matthew 8:21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 8:22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Not what most modern Christians (or clergy) consider reasonable as they value their possessions, their families, their jobs, their lives.
Mark 10:28 Peter began to speak to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you!”
What Jesus had to say about divorce took things to a different level. Jesus leaves little wiggle room for today’s practices and divorce law prescribing the splitting of assets, alimony, child support, etc. Obviously society has moved significantly, as has Trump’s example it would seem.
Mark 10:2 Then some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 10:3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 10:4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 10:5 But Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hard hearts. 10:6 But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female. 10:7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, 10:8 and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 10:9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10:10 In the house once again, the disciples asked him about this. 10:11 So he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 10:12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Imagine our economic and legal systems without oaths. Hard to do. Jesus advises against oaths of any kind. Apparently one’s word should be sufficient. How does Trump do against this standard?
Matthew 5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 5:34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 5:35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 5:36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 5:37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.
Notice in the following the importance of gold, the altar, the throne, a gift, the Temple, ultimately even God in the discussion.
Matthew 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing. But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’ 23:17 Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 23:18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing. But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’ 23:19 You are blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 23:20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 23:21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it. 23:22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it.
Giving is encouraged in the Gospels – anonymously.
Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. 6:2 Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. 6:3 But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 6:4 so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
Luke 11:41 But give from your heart to those in need, and then everything will be clean for you.
Worrying is almost a sin in itself. Bobby McFerrin would likely approve.
Matthew 6:34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
Luke 12:29 So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. 12:30 For all the nations of the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
21:34 “But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap.
Warnings to Disciples
Being a disciple is going to be rough.
Matthew 10:16 “I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Mark 13:9 “You must watch out for yourselves. You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them.
Perhaps the most difficult, and yet most famous lessons of the Gospels, is the discussion of the top commandments. Loving God is most important, but right after is loving your neighbor and your enemies.
But it goes further to insist that one should not try to get their possessions back from someone who takes them away. Major sections of civil and criminal law would be unnecessary if this were at all practicable in our current system(s).
Matthew 22:34 Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. 22:35 And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: 22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 22:37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 22:39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 22:40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. 6:31 Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.
15:17 This I command you – to love one another.
Admonishments to the Pharisees and Experts in the Law
Jesus had little patience with the lawyers and clergy of his day.
Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 23:2 “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 23:3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 23:4 They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. 23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. 23:6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues 23:7 and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’
Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 23:12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
This passage in Matthew uses several economic metaphors (and paradoxes) to drive home the message including a throne, the shepherd, sheep and goats, a king and his kingdom, hunger and food, drink, clothing, and invitation to come inside (presumably a house), healthcare, prison. It then goes on to allude to the benefits of compassion, and the rewards thereof.
And for those uncompassionate souls, it’s not good...
Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 25:32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 25:33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 25:34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 25:36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 25:38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 25:39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 25:40 And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’
25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 25:42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 25:43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 25:44 Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 25:45 Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 25:46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The list of evils is a difficult list to avoid completely and self-created from within apparently.
Mark 7:18 He said to them, “Are you so foolish? Don’t you understand that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him? 7:19 For it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and then goes out into the sewer.” (This means all foods are clean.) 7:20 He said, “What comes out of a person defiles him. 7:21 For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 7:22 adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly. 7:23 All these evils come from within and defile a person.”
Sell Your Possessions and Give
Probably the most difficult for Capitalists is the instruction to give away all possessions. Imagine the impact on our global economic system if we followed this passage to the letter, and its logical ends. This parable has lessons that almost none can follow and would seem to be a particular stretch for Trump and most with large amounts to lose.
Luke 18:18 Now a certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18:19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 18:20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 18:21 The man replied, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.” 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 18:23 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy. 18:24 When Jesus noticed this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 18:25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 18:26 Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?” 18:27 He replied, “What is impossible for mere humans is possible for God.” 18:28 And Peter said, “Look, we have left everything we own to follow you!” 18:29 Then Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of God’s kingdom 18:30 who will not receive many times more in this age – and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Do Not Judge
Another tough one to live by, and close to impossible to imagine, is our modern economic system with its implementation. Trump here?
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.
The Golden Rule
The most important passage in the Gospels for Christians?
Matthew 7:12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.