Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17
“If you put goodness out into the world, good things will come back to you.”
This is a common idea floating around our present world. I understand why. It is fluffy and nice, and gives off a “you are in control of how good your life is” vibe.
As I’ve studied a lot of religions and compared them to Christianity, I’ve noticed a common theme: So many other religions preach this idea. Some call it karma. And even many non-religious people believe in this idea.
Urban Dictionary defines karma as “getting what you give.” For example, if you’re mean, bad things happen; if you’re nice, good things will happen. To a lot of people, this is appealing because it gives us a sense of control over our lives and the goodness that we experience.
This concept of giving out goodness in order to receive goodness might be a nice idea...but if the amount of joy, happiness, and overall goodness that I get to experience actually was determined by how much of that I personally put into the world...well, I don’t know how great of a life that would really be. I mean...I really am not that good of a person. Of course, I try to be a good person - I really do! But the Bible says that we are all broken and imperfect people (Romans 3:23).
I can attest to that! I try my best to be loving, patient, and kind. But on any given day, you can find me rolling my eyes (at least internally) at something that rubbed me the wrong way. I’m impatient with my husband. I have bits of road rage. I’m selfish. I seek to serve myself above others more times than not. I fall into gossip. And you don’t want to be near me when I’m hungry or haven’t slept enough. I am a sinful, messy person. If we were operating on a karma scale, truth be told, I don’t deserve half of the goodness that I have!
But this is what sets the God of Christianity apart as unique, and if you ask me, so so good! God sees our brokenness and yuckiness. And His word says that we deserve death because of it. Yet this God is a God of grace, not of karma.
What is grace? Grace is unearned favor with God. Grace turns the karma equation completely on its head. Grace says, you do not deserve goodness, but I will give you goodness. God gives us grace because He loves us. He gives us grace daily, but His ultimate act of grace was sending His perfect Son Jesus to die on a cross, laying on Him the burden and penalty of all our brokenness. Jesus took the death penalty for us so that we could have a personal relationship with God and so that we could experience eternal life. Jesus’ death enables us to live on forever and ever.
God’s grace gives us the big stuff - like eternal life and a relationship with Him. But it also gives the small blessings in everyday life - like your favorite song popping on the radio when you’re running late for work. Like a surprise lunch outing with your coworkers on the day you forgot your lunch at home. Like a sweet conversation with a boy you love, or a new friendship during a time in your life when you feel lonely. God’s grace gets us through exams and helps us excel in the things that are important to us.
The amazing thing about God’s grace is that God is never changing. He is always consistent in His judgments. He is always good. Always just. Always pure. And always working from a place of love. Therefore, His grace is always consistent. This is different from my own ability to earn good karma, because I am unpredictable, often wavering, and not so consistent in my goodness.
You see, when we accept the truth that God’s amazing grace, rather than our own efforts and karma, dictates the goodness in our lives, we begin to appreciate Him and love Him so much more.
When we believe that every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17)...we also begin to more fully understand the words of Ephesians 2:8-9:
For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to live a life of receiving God’s grace through our personal, loving relationship, rather than trying to earn my own blessings through an impersonal concept like karma.
1. Where do my good things and blessings come from?
2. If I had to earn them all myself, how happy would I really be?
3. If God gives me good things EVEN IF I am broken at my core, what does this imply about how great His love for me is?
Thank You for Your riches and goodness that You have poured into my life. I acknowledge that every good thing I have comes from You alone. I realize that I don’t deserve any of it, and for that, all glory is Yours. Help me to trust that I do not and cannot earn my way to a good life.
Love, Your daughter
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