The builder’s church: counting 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? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

— Luke 14:28–30

I believe this parable is about a homebuilder. A man’s house is his castle; a tower to him after all.

There’s something else very subtle going on here, too. Sometimes I see real estate listed for sale with a foundation or partially built house.

In order to purchase such real estate, one would have to question whether it was somehow repossessed or foreclosed on the original builder, or why it is being offered for sale under such distressed circumstances; and if the buyer intends to continue or complete the construction, whether the original builder was adequately compensated for the partially completed work; in case a lien exists against the property, from which the builder was forced off for unknown or undisclosed reasons.

A potential buyer will look at the property, and think, “If this man began to build, and was not able to finish, I’m new here, and I’m not a fool either, so what do I have to complete the project, which the original builder did not have access to?”

Because a reputable builder from the area should have been able to obtain financing to complete the project at least to a minimum habitable condition before offering it for sale unfinished on the market.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

— 1 Corinthians 3:12–15

There’s a foundation of Jesus Christ in the preceding verse, but these four verses are especially ominous, with clear reference to price gouging or volatile markets in overpriced building materials, (precious metals etc.,) detailed planning and permitting (with a building “manifest,”) firetrap construction methods, and onerous building codes which are followed to the letter and not the spirit of the law, mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens, (the workmen’s wages or “reward,”) and single-purpose legal entities with fire insurance and limited liability.

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

— Mark 6:3

There is something very, very wicked, almost unspeakably evil about those builders on wood, hay, and stubble, almost as if a woman is feeling the stubble of a man’s beard because she wants a warm house and a husband with a steady job, but the man is gay, and hasn’t a care in the world.

But the builders on gold, silver, and precious stones build rightly according to the Scripture.

As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. … But the multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation.

— Wisdom of Solomon 3:6–8, 4:3

When the fires of trial came, those other builders had no gold, silver, or precious stones, because they despised the riches of the Most High.

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; …

— Revelation 3:18

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