By Erik Raymond
“So let me give you a couple of four-letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: ‘luck’ and ‘fate.'”
When I first became a Christian, I had a bad mouth. I am thankful that over time God worked to change my heart, and as a result, my mouth. I knew right away that talking in a particular way was offensive to God and others. It does not have a place among those professing faith in Christ because it does not give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). This is pretty straightforward.
But I’ve noticed that many Christians are still plagued by a foul mouth. They say things that are offensive to God and to others. I suspect that many don’t even realize it either. Like a new convert who remains fluent in the sailor’s tongue, the Christian may not realize what they are saying or its theological impact.
So let me give you a couple of four-letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: “luck” and “fate.” These words and their concepts are unbiblical and atheistic. Luck communicates randomness while fate describes a inevitability of something happening without a purpose. Both are blind and impersonal.
Undermining and Obscuring Who God Is
I say they are Christian cuss words because they undermine the key biblical doctrine of God’s providence. This word providence may be a new word for you, but it is an important word. It is a word that we as Christians need to know and delight in. We are often so quick to simplify and redefine words, but in doing so we can be losing something of our identity as Christians. At one time this word was so prevalent that people named cities and churches after it! This is a very important word.
What does it mean? Providence is God’s infinite power that upholds and governs all things that come to pass.
As the Heidelberg Catechism says,
“God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures and so governs them so that: leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed all things, come to us not by change but by his fatherly hand.”
The main thing you need to know about this is that God is not disconnected from what is happening in the world today. There is no such thing as chance or luck or fate or karma. Rather, God is upholding, governing and ordering all things as with his very hand.
“Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11)
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30)
As Charles Spurgeon observed,
There is just this difference between fate and providence. Fate is blind; providence has eyes. Fate is blind, a thing that must be; it is just an arrow shot from a bow, that must fly onward, but hath no target. Not so, providence; providence is full of eyes. There is a design in everything, and an end to be answered; all things are working together, and working together for good. They are not done because they must be done, but they are done because there is some reason for it. It is not only that the thing is, because it must be; but the thing is, because it is right it should be. God hath not arbitrarily marked out the world’s history; he had an eye to the great architecture of perfection, when he marked all the aisles of history, and placed all the pillars of events in the building of time.
Am I Splitting Hairs?
Some might say, “Why are you nitpicking? Why squabble about these things?”
The answer is simple: We serve a precise God. He is to get glory in all that we do. And this includes how we think and speak about him. If we are saying things that attack, undermine, blur or otherwise detract from a truth that God means to get glory from—shouldn’t we stop? Don’t you want to stop these things?
If you get a new job, is this God’s providence or a lucky break? Do you think the God who orders and upholds all things means to get glory from the new job? What about when someone’s disease clears up or is healed? Is this luck? No! It is God who smiled upon them.
God Actually Counts Hairs
God is involved in the details of life. He is the God who said that he numbers every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30). As Spurgeon noted, even the most committed of earthly moms can’t pull this off. He’s right. Go ahead and walk to the nursery this Sunday at church. Ask the moms about how many teeth their children have. Ask them if they are crawling or trying to walk. They will give you a quick and clear answer. Then ask them how many hairs are on their heads. They will laugh. No one knows this. But friends, God does. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. He is the God who upholds and governs all things; he orders the cosmos and knows the number of hairs on your head. God is intricately involved with the affairs of your life.
We mustn’t dare to carelessly speak in terms of fate or luck. These are offensive and insulting terms that Christians should cast into the sea along with other inappropriate speech that characterizes our immaturity. And as we throw them overboard, remember to delight in the truth of God’s providence and the God who upholds and governs as with his very hand.