How Principles of Modern Economics Can Reflect Biblical Wisdom – The Gospel Coalition

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Financial

A proverb is a succinct statement about the way life normally works, and all languages and cultures have them. Possibly due to Americans’ fixation on productivity, many of our proverbs deal with efficiency, money, employment, or contentment.
One common American proverb is “A stitch, in time, saves nine.” In other words, if you see a cloth beginning to tear and stop to repair it now, it will prevent a much larger repair job later. This proverb uses the language of needlework, but it applies to any situation—car maintenance, home repair, human relationships—where a little forethought and intervention will prevent a larger clean-up later. 
In my informal study of economics, I’ve found parallels between some proverbial principles of economic theory and wisdom as taught in the Bible. The principle of comparative advantage is one such example.  
What Is Comparative Advantage?
Not unlike Solomon’s illustrative stories to his son (Prov. 7:6–23), American children’s stories often teach principles of industry and productivity. In fact, our children’s literature is a hidden wealth of economic illustrations; their authors, perhaps subconsciously, have recorded and passed down our national story of economic progress.
Take the 50-year-old classic The Cajun Night Before Christmas, for example. The book asks, “Why does Santa use flying reindeer?” He could employ alligators. But if you look at the delightful pictures, you’ll see it’s a lot easier for Santa to get down a chimney when he lands on the roof than it would be for him to have alligators boost him up the side of the house. 
This funny little story illustrates the economic principle of comparative advantage: individuals, companies, and even nations specialize in producing certain goods and services. One economics textbook says it this way:  
When people specializ …

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