One of the hard truths of life is that bad things happen. And many times, it’s another human being who caused that bad thing to happen. Often, we are hurt by it, or someone we know and love is affected by it. Frequently, we see people making such poor decisions that we think they deserve what they are getting. Or that person who hurt us, well, we just can’t wait to see them get what they deserve…or what we think they deserve. We may even secretly hope that we are around to see them get what’s coming to them!
This notion of “you get what you deserve” is so tantalizing because the pain of the offense is so deep that we want the offender to suffer just as we have or someone else has. And it’d be really great if God just went along with what we wanted and ensure that person will know just how bad they hurt us, and will live through it themselves…”that’ll teach ‘em!”
But unfortunately, or more correctly, fortunately, we don’t get what we deserve! All throughout the Bible, we see that our sins- our rebelliousness and disobedience to God- is deserving of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But we also see God’s grace and mercy poured out upon those who love Him. “And God demonstrated His love for us in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” Instead of allowing us to deal with the consequences of our sinful actions- death, separation from God- God paid the price, took care of things, and allowed a way for us to be reconciled, for us to have the full and eternal life He desires for us.
And the same is true for all people who turn to Him, no matter who they are, even if they are the ones who harmed us so! That’s a hard concept to wrap our minds around, I think. God loves my enemies just as much as He loves me. That eternal life that I am waiting for and hoping for- that’s available for them too. In fact, Jesus tells us, in Luke 6:27-38, that we are supposed to want the best for them too! WHAT?!? I am supposed to pray for my enemy? I’m supposed to offer them help when they need it? I’m supposed to love THEM? Yep.
We are supposed to change the way we look at others. Instead of harboring resentment, of wanting revenge, or of hoping they get what they deserve, we are supposed to want the very best for them. Remember, God loved us when we were not deserving of it- heck, we didn’t even want reconciliation with God when He went ahead and made the way possible. Often times, those that we resent, dislike, or hate are not really wanting reconciliation with us. Jesus tells us that we are to do it anyways.
Here’s an example of what that might look like (thanks Ross): when that fool passes us on the super icy highway, instead of getting annoyed and frustrated with their stupidity, we are supposed to hope and pray they don’t end up in a ditch four miles ahead. And if we do see them in that ditch, even if it’s the consequence of their actions, we are not supposed to take pleasure in seeing them get what we think they deserve! We need to pray, to help, to support- we need to show them God’s love in every way we can, regardless of who they are, of what they’ve done, or how stupid we think they’ve been…simply because God loves them, and He loves us.
If we really want to be disciples of Christ, we need to imitate Him- He prayed for His enemies even when they were killing Him! As you go about your week, be aware of those people who frustrate you. How are you thinking about them? Are you praying for them, helping them, hoping the best for them? It’s not easy, I get it. But try it anyways.
Sermon Notes for “Biblical Mythbusters: Myth #3” from Feb 23, 2014
Myth #3: “You Get What You Deserve- Karma”
As a theological concept found in Hindu and Buddhist religions:
Idea that how you life your life will determine the quality of life you will have after reincarnation
Basically, you reap in the next life what you sow in this life
Apart from religion, it is a popular belief that “what goes around comes around”
We sometimes want people to get paid back for the wrong they’ve done us
Karma is not really about revenge; it’s a sideways attempt at getting back at those who hurt us or we don’t like. When they get what we think they deserve, we take pleasure in it, we want to see them suffer for the hurt they’ve caused us.
This notion of karma doesn’t really focus on us getting what we deserve, only ‘them’ getting what ‘they’ deserve
Question for us as Christians: is this idea of getting what you deserve biblical?
First: karma centers around notion of reincarnation- being reborn into a new life after death, and what you come back as is determined by how you live your life now
Bible never speaks of reincarnation; no notion of being reborn once you physically die
Only mention of “being reborn” is in relation to coming to faith in Jesus Christ- dying to our old self and being reborn to live as Jesus did
So karma as a theological concept is unfounded
Second: There do seem to be places in scripture that tell us “what goes around comes around”
Job 4:8; Galatians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 5:10
There is a difference between:
Cause & Effect: notion that there are consequences-good or bad- for our actions
Karma: teaches that you get what you deserve based on your actions
The Bible teaches that there are consequences to our actions, but not in the way we think
Sin is our willful turning away from and disobeying God, and choosing our own ways
Not only are we sinful, we are deserving of the huge consequences because of it
Romans 3:23; 6:23; and Ephesians 2:1-3: We deserve death!
Unlike karma, the bible teaches that we can never do enough good to overcome the bad we’ve done; we can never be good enough to not deserve death!
But: Ephesians 2:4-7: Even though we were deserving of death, God gave us life!
It is God’s mercy and grace that save us from the consequences of our actions
God’s mercy= we don’t get what we deserve
God’s grace= we get what we don’t deserve
The good news is we don’t get what we deserve, we get so much more!
So we don’t get what we deserve, but what about that other person who hurts us?
The Bible teaches that God loves all of us, not just me, and He worked to save even those who hurt us
Luke 6:27-38: Jesus teaches on how we are to treat our enemies, those who hurt us, those we don’t like
“You must be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate to you.”
As followers of Christ, we are not to wish bad on others, we are not to believe that they will get what they deserve; we are supposed to love them, to want the nest for them, to want them to be reconciled to God and to receive the same life that God has given to us!
Wishing that karma would take care of them is not loving them!
Wanting the best for them, forgiving them, helping them when they need it- that’s loving them!
God loved us and we are to love others and want nothing but the nest for then, even and especially when they don’t deserve it, simply because we didn’t deserve it!
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.