Luck is a concept that refers to events or outcomes that happen by chance rather than through a person’s own actions. The idea of luck is prevalent in many cultures and belief systems around the world. However, Christianity has a unique perspective on the role of luck and chance in human affairs.
For Christians, the question of whether luck exists is an important one. On one hand, attributing positive or negative events to luck can seem to diminish God’s sovereignty and minimize the importance of making wise choices. On the other hand, recognizing that chance events do occur could simply be acknowledging the limits of human control.
So what exactly do Christians believe about luck? The Bible does not directly address the concept of luck, but it does provide some principles that shape the Christian view:
- The Bible emphasizes God’s sovereignty and minimized the role of chance events.
- God may allow unexpected events to occur according to His purposes.
- Christians have a responsibility to make wise choices, not passively expect good luck.
- Trusting in luck is incompatible with having faith in God’s provision.
- Gratitude for “good luck” should be directed toward God as the ultimate source.
With these principles in mind, Christians tend to be skeptical of the idea of luck as a blind impersonal force that randomly controls human affairs. However, they also recognize that life is complex and some events do not have easily discernible causes. When approached thoughtfully, belief in divine sovereignty and human responsibility can be balanced with acknowledging that unexpected events do occur.
The Sovereignty of God
One of the foundational beliefs that sets biblical Christianity apart from many other worldviews is its emphasis on the sovereignty of God. This means that God reigns supreme over everything that occurs in the universe He created. He oversees and orchestrates every detail of His creation. Nothing happens by mere chance.
The Bible repeatedly affirms God’s sovereignty. For example, Ephesians 1:11 says that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Nothing takes God by surprise or is out of His control. He has foreordained even the smallest details of what will take place. In Acts 17:26, Paul declares that God determined the appointed times and boundaries where people would live. God uses all circumstances to accomplish His plans.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33).
Because the Bible emphasizes God’s sovereignty so strongly, most Christians are hesitant to affirm the existence of sheer chance or luck. If random luck could thwart God’s purposes, He would not truly be sovereign over all things. Christians affirm that God incorporates even unexpected events into His meticulous plan for the world. What may seem like unpredictable chance to us is part of God’s design.
Affirming God’s sovereignty does not mean that Christians take a fatalistic view of life. That is, they do not believe that human choices and actions are irrelevant because everything has already been predetermined by God. The Bible also emphasizes human responsibility.
Christians believe God exercises His sovereignty through what they call divine providence. This refers to God orchestrating circumstances in order to guide the world toward His desired purposes for humanity and creation. God allows our choices to have significance, but He incorporates them into His plan. The book of Proverbs often highlights how human wisdom and righteousness leads to blessing, while foolishness leads to calamity. Yet, the outworking of those principles occurs according to God’s greater purposes.
Christians must strive to live wisely and make good choices, while also resting in the knowledge that God’s plan cannot be thwarted. God allows difficulties, but also promises to use them for the good of His people (Romans 8:28). Events that seem random to us have significance to God. He remains in control amidst circumstances we cannot foresee or understand.
God’s Permissive Will
Since Christians do not believe things happen purely by chance, they affirm some concept of God’s sovereignty over luck or fortune. However, this does not mean that God directly causes everything that occurs. Rather, He may allow certain events to take place according to His permissive will.
Theologians distinguish between God’s perfect will of decree, or those things He directly causes to happen, and His permissive will, or those things He may allow even though they go against His moral will. God allows humans the freedom to sin and cause great evil in the world, even though it goes against His perfect righteousness. He can use even sin and tragedy to ultimately achieve good, glorious ends without directly causing the sin Himself.
In the same way, Christians can acknowledge that unexpected or improbable events do occur, both good and bad, without saying they are directly willed by God. God is not caught off guard when they happen. He remains in charge of the overall trajectory of His redemptive plan. Yet humans cannot always discern God’s specific reasons for allowing certain events rather than intervening to stop them. This is another way that Christians can accept a type of happenstance without affirming an impersonal luck that controls the universe apart from God’s oversight.
Another key principle that factors into the Christian view of luck is human responsibility. While God oversees the events of history according to His will, the Bible repeatedly emphasizes that we are accountable for the choices we make within the circumstances God ordains. We should not passively expect God’s favor due to good fortune. Rather, we are called to actively pursue wisdom and righteousness.
Solomon wrote, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31 NKJV). While the battle’s outcome depends on the Lord, we must still prepare and engage in the fight. Ecclesiastes 9 similarly acknowledges that “time and chance” happen to all and no one knows what will happen on earth. Yet we are to “enjoy life” and “do everything to the full” in light of life’s uncertainties (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10). While nothing is fully under our control, making responsible choices matters.
Christians also believe they have a responsibility to help others in need. Rather than attributing poverty or misfortune to bad luck alone, Christians look for ways to offer compassion and make a positive difference (Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27). Even amidst trials beyond their control, Christians have hope in God’s purpose and their secure eternal future because of what Jesus accomplished (Romans 8:18).
Faith in God’s Provision
Not only do Christians reject passive resignation to one’s “fate,” they also reject the alternative of trusting in luck or fortune. To rely on good luck for happiness or success is fundamentally opposed to a posture of faith in God. Trusting in God means looking to Him as the ultimate source of help and security, not hoping in vague fate or chance (Psalm 20:7).
The book of Proverbs strongly warns against making material wealth one’s source of security, because riches can disappear quickly (Proverbs 23:5). Jesus similarly warned not to stockpile earthly wealth but to be “rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21). He calls His followers not to worry but to trust God to provide what they need as they seek His kingdom (Matthew 6:25-34). The blessings of following Jesus may not always be earthly or material, but He promises to care for His people. Christians are to find their contentment in their relationship with Christ.
Directing Gratitude Toward God
As morally responsible people, Christians should make wise choices and avoid laziness or unethical schemes aimed at getting rich quick. However, even when they have made good choices, Christians ultimately attribute any success or blessing to God’s grace. They maintain humility because they recognize that God’s favor is not earned.
The Bible consistently directs gratitude for good things toward God Himself as the giver of only good gifts (James 1:17). Moses instructs the Israelites that when they enter the promised land and acquire great possessions, they must not become proud and forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:10-18). All prosperity comes from God and for His glory. Christians aim to be thankful stewards of His gifts rather than presume anything good they receive is due to their own worthiness.
The concept of sheer luck functioning as an impersonal force over human affairs does not align with Christian theology. Christians affirm God’s meticulous sovereignty over everything that occurs within the universe He created. While God may allow unexpected events to happen according to His purposes, Christians do not view these events as merely random chance occurrences. God incorporates all circumstances into His divine plan for His glory and His people’s good.
Rather than seeking good fortune, Christians seek God Himself. They acknowledge His control over all that happens rather than attribute their blessings or trials to impersonal fate. They also take responsibility for wise living within God’s ordained circumstances. Christians find security not in luck or happenstance, but in God’s steadfast love and sovereign plan that cannot fail. Ultimate success comes not from random chance but from walking in prayerful obedience with the God who oversees all things.