The Businessman and the Sabbath

I’m in a really great men’s book club, though that may be an oxymoron to many people. There are academics, business owners, clergy, and the hoi polloi like me. It’s a wonderful time of honesty, wit, and camaraderie.

We’re currently going though a book titled Living the Sabbath. We’re discussing the usual topics around creation and rest, things that I’ve heard all my life but usually couched in terms of legalism and/or discipline. The book is taking us in a more holistic direction, which I’m enjoying, but it still leaves that nagging feeling deep in the pit of my stomach.

Does this really work in business? If you look at the sabbath in the Old Testament, you find not only the usual 7th day weekly sabbath, but also the 7th year sabbath and the year of Jubilee (7×7 years, the 50th year) sabbath.

Without going into much detail around the 7th year or the Jubilee (mostly because I’m sure I’d be inaccurate in an important way), much of these non-weekly sabbaths take things to extremes. Or so my business training and experience tells me. Important principles of these sabbaths are the forgiveness of debt, freeing of slaves, and return of family land, all things that would be damn hard in todays economy, though it was probably no easier 3000 years ago.

My mind works furiously to keep up with how these principles would affect interest rates, property values, and salaries, wondering if our modern society has the tools that could actually cope with these interruptions to still reap the benefits intended without introducing negative consequences. For example, if all debts were forgiven on a specific year, the interest rates and loans would reflect the forgiveness, making borrowing a costly and short-term proposition as you got closer to the forgiveness year. I imagine that could crater an economy, stifling investment in innovation and infrastructure. Maybe I’m missing something, but I just can’t imaging this working well.

I don’t have any answers and I’m not sure what the point of this post is other than to share some of my ponderings of life. I so desire to live a life that is deliberate and not just a copy of what is around me, but I am also aware of why I’ve become more “normal” in the last few years. So I continue to strive, even it doesn’t return any immediate results. Selah.

Categories: Deep Thoughts

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