The Wisdom of a Banker

Rothschild is a name that is synonymous with wealth. Even though the Rothschild empire was at  its strongest and wealthiest in the nineteenth century, the name still retains, for very good reasons, an association with opulence. What is impressive about families like the Rothschilds is that they have been able to pass  their treasures successfully from one generation to the next, a feat that is not as easy as it might appear.

There are probably numerous reasons why the Rothschilds and other dynasties like them have been successful. Hard work. Knowledge of their industry. The right connections.

But success demands more than those obvious virtues. It’s said that on his death bed the father of the dynasty, Mayer Amschel, gathered his five sons around him and, in words that combined advice with appeal, told his heirs “Maintain absolute unity”.

However talented or rich any family or organisation happens to be, without the cohesive power of unity, it doesn’t have much of a future.

Unity is a value that is celebrated throughout the Bible. Unity is something that is deep, not only within the heart of God, but within the being of God: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6.4). God is one.

Unity is something that is embedded deeply within the structure of creation. God creates man and then woman. Genesis comments that the two became one flesh. To read that simply as an explanation as to why marriages should be consummated far from does justice to the sacred revelation.

God never intended human beings to live lonely lives. Community was His plan, marriage its most intimate expression.  Unsurprising therefore that one of Satan’s first moves was to divide husband and wife. Division, whether in marriage or society – or church – has proved a very effective weapon in his armoury ever since.

Jesus prayed in John 17.20-23 that His followers would be one, just as He and His Father were one. Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4.3).

And of course there is Psalm 133:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity…For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore (vv.1,3).

Before the importance of  unity was recognised by ambitious bankers, it was in the heart of God and on the heart of God. I suppose the challenge of unity is that we all have to make compromises to make it work. We have to – sometimes – embrace things that are not to our taste. At other times we have to let go of “our thing”. Not always easy. Still, it’s a small price to pay for the promise that unity holds. “Life for evermore” is a lot better than our best plans or dreams. And let’s face it, it worked for the Rothschilds!


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