economics

Should Millennials Care about Economics?

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Results-driven. Globally-oriented. Civic-minded.

We often use these to describe millennials. These characteristics are ideal for the field of economics, yet, ironically, many millennials have a minimal interest in this essential area of life. This seems to be especially true among evangelical millennials. While there may be some good (or at least logical) reasons for this phenomenon, in light of a robust Christian worldview, this trend needs to be reversed. Let’s look at this topic more closely.

What Is Economics?

One reason why some millennials have overlooked the field of economics is that it sounds boring. However, when I say “economics” I am not talking about an esoteric theory, the stock market or even your 401(k) plan at work — at least not directly.

The term economy comes from an ancient Greek word that means “the law of the house.” So when we speak about economics, we’re really talking about housekeeping — ordering and arranging the material things in the place where we live. If we view life through a wide-angle lens, we could say that the world is the “house” in which we live, and our interaction with other people and the material stuff of the world involves or is an act of economics.

The field of economics, then, is not a dry academic exercise; rather, it is the inescapable experience all people have as they live in the material world. We can be good or bad at economics, but we cannot opt out of it.

We can be good or bad at economics, but we cannot opt out of it.

Jesus Cared About Economics

So, when we talk about living in the material world, we’re actually having a discussion about economics. We’re talking about the efficient use of God’s resources — neither wasting nor hoarding — as we live in the material world and interact with others.

Indeed, Jesus appealed to living well in the material world in the Parable of the Talents (see Matthew 25:14–30). This parable shows how God evaluates success in the realm of economics. Whether we have one, two or five talents, God cares about how faithfully we handle the material resources at our disposal.

Conversely, while arguably not the main point of the story, Christ addresses economics in the Parable of the Vineyard Owner (see Mark 12:1–11). In this story we can see that greed and otherwise poor stewardship leads to destruction, as God will hold mankind accountable for his “housekeeping” of the world.

So, Jesus cared and talked about economics. It is Christ-like to have an interest in economics. In order to live in the material world for the common good we need to competently handle the material resources that God has entrusted to us, realizing He is ultimately the Owner of the “house” in which we live and to which Christ came.

Millennials and Economics

Like few generations before them, millennials seem tailored to excel at economics. The Bible calls this being a good steward. Since God makes us to do what He tells us to do, being a good steward is what will produce the most amount of human thriving. Such flourishing ought to appeal to millennials’ results-driven nature.

Moreover, the global concern and civic-mindedness that many millennials display are ideal traits for economics. After all, many worldwide problems (ranging from poverty to pollution) are caused by failures at material stewardship.

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David W. Jones

Dr. Jones is a Professor of Christian Ethics and serves as the Associate Dean of Theological Studies and Director of the Th.M. Program at Southeastern Seminary. He is the author of many books, including Every Good Thing, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics and is the co-author of Health, Wealth, and Happiness. He comments on the Bible over at redeemedmind.com.

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