A parent recently shared a situation in which their child declared what “good luck” they had enjoyed during a family outing with perfect weather. Wanting their children to think biblically about such things they asked me how the Bible addresses the subject of “luck” or “karma”, something our culture is quick to attribute successes to.
If our kids say “that was lucky” or “good luck”, I don’t think we need to jump all over them for it. For the most part these are just expressions we use to indicate good fortune or wish someone well. Your child is likely not giving much thought to any hidden meaning when they use the work “luck”. On the other hand, words have meaning and it is worth our attention to remember that belief in luck is rooted in pagan thinking and the occult.
What is the Occult?
The occult refers to any practice associated with the paranormal, such as “efforts to access or use supernatural power or attempts to gain secret or hidden information outside the use of the natural senses.”1 In occult thought (such as divination or witchcraft), good or bad luck comes as a result of tapping into supernatural powers within the universe, and as a result being able to control events and outcomes. You’ve heard the children’s saying “step on a crack, break your mother’s back”. Few really believe this, but it reflects the occult belief in cosmic cause and effect; that if I do ‘A’, ‘B’ will result because I’ve somehow tapped into a power source to make it happen. The ultimate issue here is control, namely the control that I can have over the events in my life.
Some Christians may be tempted to think that words like “luck” are just non-Christians way of describing what a Christian sees as God’s power at work in the world. There is a very clear reason why this is not the case. At the root of all occult thought is the elimination of the distinction between the Creator and the Creation. It treats the physical world as if it were merely a lower or corrupted extension of the divine. In this case divine power is ultimately contained within the universe and available to those who know how to transcend the physical/rational world to access it. This is a clear reflection of the darkened mind of man described by Paul in Romans 1:25
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.Amen.”
The Christian on the other hand knows that God is the eternal Creator of the universe and is utterly and completely distinct from his Creation. He is a personal God who exists in and of himself and exerts his power only and always according to his eternal purpose.2 As a Creature, human beings are incapable of manipulating or controlling God by our actions. Rather, we relate to him through our obedience to his Son Jesus as he relates to us in love as his adopted children. The differences between beliefs about “luck” and God could not be greater.
Should you Correct When Your Children Say “Luck”?
Opinions may differ here. I tend to lean on Solomon’s wisdom in advising:
“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise; why destroy yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16)
This isn’t Solomon’s prescription for a ‘little bit of sin’ for good measure. Rather, it’s a warning against falling into the trap of hyper-legalism as the key to maintaining God’s approval. Enforcing a taboo list of words I fear brings with it the danger of promoting self-righteous pride; something we should be wary of also. If your child says “lucky” when she hears about her friend getting a new dog I wouldn’t see that as anything more than her wish that she also could get a dog. You may disagree, and that’s fine. Ultimately I leave this one to a matter for conscience.
Where you ought to take notice and intervene however is if your child begins displaying superstitious behaviour or modifying their actions or decisions out of irrational fear of repercussions. These could include things like carrying lucky objects or doing anything or avoiding anything in order to bring about an effect where no cause-effect relationship exists. (Think hockey players refusing to shave until playoffs are over; growing a beard has no causal relationship with playing hockey well). This is a clear warning that they are displaying a real belief that there are powers at work which they need to appease for protection or good fortune. Marcia Montenegro warns:
“If you were to examine the origins of most superstitions about luck, such as knocking on wood, carrying a rabbit’s foot or lucky penny, hanging a horseshoe over the doorway, or others, you would find that these concepts were based on beliefs in appeasing gods, powers, or chance; attracting supernatural powers for protection against evil; or some other superstitious view of attracting good fortune. Luck and so-called lucky objects have nothing to do with relying on God.”3
If your child begins displaying “luck” conscious behaviour help them see that this actually displeases God who wants us to put our trust in him. It could be that they have received some harmful messages from friends at school or television programs that Satan is using to undermine their trust in God. What they need is the sound instruction and encouragement of God’s Word that promises them his Fatherly protection and power over any other power at work in the world; seen or unseen.
Here are a few good scriptures to have on hand for such occasions.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
– The 23rd Psalm
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)
“The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,” (Nahum 1:7)
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” (Romans 8:15)
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them [spirits in the world], because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
- Marcia Montenegro, Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids, (David, C. Cook, Aug 5, 2013) loc. 167.
- Ephesians 1:11
- Marcia Montenegro, Spellbound, loc. 650.