Thrift: A Good Word for Today

In 1933, as our nation struggled in the aftermath of the collapse of the stock market, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote:

We need enthusiasm, imagination and ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct by drastic means if necessary the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young.

In this dark day in American history, Roosevelt challenged young and old alike to face the future with creativity and character. To not hide in the shadows but to step into the light by facing reality as it is, and striving to do something about it.

It amazes me how contemporary his words sound today. David Blankenhorn, founder of the American Values Institute and devoted follower of Jesus, is sounding a call back to the bedrock values of industry and frugality. He fears that if we don’t reverse the trends of the last thirty years the “debt culture” we have created will sow the seeds of financial disaster and death for many of the families of America.

Blankenhorn looks the Bible and to the example of men like Benjamin Franklin for his inspiration for change. It is interesting how “old” ideas offer “new” insights and principles for our day. The wise man of Ecclesiastes rightly noted this truth saying:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

Franklin coined sayings like “a penny saved is a penny earned” to inspire his revolutionary generation to have the kind of core values that would win the day. In many ways we need a return of this revolutionary spirit to return our nation to its firm footing.

Blankenhorn seeks to return the word “thrift” to good standing within the vocabularies of young and old Americans. He wrote:

The word “thrift” comes from “thrive.” Understood in this way, thrift is the ethic and practice of best use. Being thrifty means making the wisest use of all that we have — time, money, our possessions, our health, and our society’s natural resources — to promote both our own flourishing and the social good.

Understood in this way, “thrift” reminds me of the sacred value of “stewardship.” Our Father in heaven has entrusted his riches into our hands, and has called on each of us to be good stewards of His creation. This stewardship is a sacred trust.

In this day of economic change and uncertainly, I pray we will be courageous and brave like the young, and return to the sound financial principles of being good stewards under the watchful care of our heavenly Father.


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