Sunk Cost and Counting Cost

There were many food trucks options at the Texas Book Festival.  However, I wanted empanadas.

Therefore, Melinda and I, and our son Jasper waited in what appeared to be the longest food truck line.  As we neared the half-way point in line, two women in front of us left the line to go elsewhere for food.  I said, “it is too bad that they wasted all that time just to walk away.”  Jasper replied, “Sunk cost.”

His point was that the cost already spent should not be the determining factor. Prospective (future) cost should be considered.  If they decided the future time in line was not worth the investment to them, then why not walk away?  No disagreement from me.

However, it seems to me that sometimes people walk away from things without really considering the future cost.  They simply grow impatient, or become weary.

Here are a couple of applications in the spiritual realm.  (1) Sunk cost should not be the determining factor.  Future cost should be considered.  I have met those who will not walk away from a religious system, which they understand to be in error, because of sunk cost.  (a) Paul was of different assessment.  He said, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7).  Early Christians said of him, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Galatians 1:23).  (b) Brethren at Thessalonica were of different assessment.  Paul said that others told him how they had, “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).  (c) Brethren in Ephesus had a different assessment.  They fully rejected their past practices.  We are told, “Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.  And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver” (Acts 19:19).

(2) One should not walk away without soberly considering future cost.  I have known those who have walked away from living the Christian life, after years of living it.  I wonder if they have really counted the cost.  (a) There is a cost to self.  Peter warned, “if after they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21, cf. Luke 12:42-48).  The pleasures of sins are short-lived (Hebrews 11:24-26).  “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:2-3).  (b) There is a potential cost to others.  One may negatively influence others (1 Corinthians 5:6b; 15:33; Proverbs 13:20).  One’s lack of faithfulness may affect family members.  A lack of attendance may lead one’s children or spouse down the same path.  One’s actions may harm the church.  Some members’ actions harm the church’s influence in the community.  A lack of attendance hinders potential edification.  A preacher’s or elder’s infidelity may cause some members to give up.  “It is impossible that no offense should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2).

Let us finish faithfully.  “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).  “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7).  “Be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  May we, as Paul, come to the end of this earthly life saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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2 Responses to Sunk Cost and Counting Cost

  1. Edward Amihere says:

    Hello Brother Bryan,
    I trust you and the family are doing well by the mercies of our Lord God. I enjoy your post. Keep up the good work.

    Regards from my family to yours.

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