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Gumption, Grit and Gratitude

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Sometimes, colloquial expressions—those well-worn, time-honored phrases that have come into common use—are passed from generation to generation as a part of the culture. Hokey? Yes, they can be, but these pithy expressions can convey some wisdom if one actually listens and gives them some thought.

Every generation seems to think the previous one is out of touch and really does not understand what life and its challenges are all about. Though technology changes, and circumstances may be different from one generation to another, there are some basics that do not change. These basic virtues and truths are often the subject of homespun proverbs.

Many of these expressions deal with money and success. "A fool and his money are soon parted." Or, "A penny saved is a penny earned." And then there is, "Don’t put all your eggs in one basket"—basic advice on maintaining frugality and avoiding risky ventures.

Some expressions have to do with human relationships. "Keep your words sweet, because you may have to eat them." And, "Be kind to people on the way up, because you may need them on your way down." A few promote perseverance, such as the Japanese proverb that says, "Beginning is easy, continuing is hard."

I am certain that you know many such sayings, and that you probably find yourself using a few from time to time. Many seem to come back to the recurring themes of gumption, grit and gratitude. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines "gumption" as, "shrewd practical common sense, especially as applied to the problems of life." Webster’s defines "grit" as "firmness of mind and spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger."

Those two attributes seem to be in short supply today as we face so many challenges personally and nationally. "Common sense" is often very uncommon today, and the attribute of "stick-to-it-iveness" or perseverance seems to be a rarity. Putting these two character traits into practice would solve many common problems, and would improve the outcome of many crises that people face.

Then, there is "gratitude"—the state of being thankful. Webster’s defines "thankfulness" as being "appreciative of benefits received." Many people today feel more entitlement than thankfulness, and we seem to live in a time when demands are more common than requests. Too often we lament over what we do not have, instead of being genuinely thankful for what we have.

Not only is a thankful attitude pleasing to those around us; it is pleasing to God, who admonishes us: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).

One whole book in the Bible—the book of Proverbs—is filled with memorable sayings, many of which have become our colloquial expressions. They give us wonderful instruction about timely physical matters as well as timeless spiritual principles—and many priceless insights on gumption, grit and gratitude.

Of course, Proverbs is not the only book in your Bible with the words of life that can put us on the right path. To learn more about this amazing resource that can change your life, please read our booklet, The Bible: Fact or Fiction? Have the gumption and the grit to do it today. You will be grateful that you did!