"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. Or
what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and
consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against
him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he
sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever
he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my
disciple" (Lk. 14:28-33).
The first of these two parables says that we must
properly evaluate the strengths and abilities we have available to us before
taking on something we want to do. Of this, St. John of the Ladder wrote:
"Our enemies, the demons, often intently incite us to take on works which
are above our powers so that we, being unsuccessful, become despondent and
leave even those activities that are adequate to our powers…" (The
Ladder, Chapter 26). The second parable cited tells about fighting the
difficulties and temptations which inevitably arise when one undertakes some
good work. Not reason alone, but selflessness also is required for success
here. That is why these two parables are linked to the teaching in the Gospel
of bearing one’s cross: "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and
come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Lk. 14:27).
Sometimes the circumstances of life are so hard
that it is extremely difficult to find the right decision. In such case, one
must ask God for edification very intensely: "… cause me to know the
way wherein I should walk…Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God" (Ps.
142:8-10). These and the like were the words of our saint, David, the
King and Psalmist, who was given edification for his prayers to God.
In order to strengthen our confidence that God
hears and complies with our requests, the Lord Jesus Christ told the parables
about <see next chapter>
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