“A lucky break!”
“Maybe next time my luck will be better!”
“But just as fate would have it, I suffered more tough luck!”
“You were lucky, though.”
Speech, all of this is speech which manifests a lack of the fear of the Lord. O, it manifests fear alright. But it manifests fear of the idol “luck.” Such speech manifests no fear of the Lord. One walking in His fear never gives expression to the phrases and sentences above.
How often have not these expressions fallen off your lips of late? How many times have you used the one or the other today?
It is not a rare thing to hear those who claim to fear Him and advocate a walk in His fear let that word “luck” fall off their lips with the greatest of ease and use it with great frequency.
But it is atheistic and therefore far from the fear of the Lord. It rules God and His providence entirely out of the picture. It attributes circumstances and events to some impersonal, difficult to define thing that is given the credit or the blame; and it rules out all rhyme and reason, all planning and decreeing to explain, things which God has performed.
These expressions go hand in hand with the superstition of the natural heart and mind. As Paul writes of the natural man in Romans 1:25. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” In acts of superstition man attributes the works of God to the creature. He puts his confidence in a thing he happened to be wearing, a thing he happened to be touching, a creature of this sort or that sort that was somewhere in the vicinity when the creator wrought a work that either pleased him or brought him pain. He associates that pleasure or pain with the creature and serves and worships it rather than the creator. He will not dare disassociate himself from that creature; or else he will flee as far as he can from that creature: It all depends on whether he was near it when he enjoyed pleasure or when he suffered pain. The creator who actually sent the pain thru a creature or realized the situation in which the pleasure was experienced is discounted and forgotten.
No different is it with all this “luck” business. It does not belong on the lips of the child of God except when he mentions the word in order to condemn its use! For it definitely is acknowledging another god besides Jehovah. In answer to the words of the only true God who says “Thou shalt have no other gods besides me” such speech about “luck” (and often even “Lady Luck”) declares “But we do recognize that undefinable thing called ‘luck’ which causes things to occur and which we have to pamper and worship in order to escape woes and obtain joys.”
You who read these lines and utter this speech concerning fate and luck bear in mind that it is no innocent little thing to speak in that manner. It is insulting the living God! An artist who has spent many hours of painstaking effort to produce his masterpieces would feel highly insulted and be very righteously indignant to hear an art critic attribute his beautiful piece of work to some art student who heretofore had produced nothing but crude pieces that reflected immature judgment. And He who is God? The omnipotent one? The almighty one? The sovereign one? Does He take it lightly and in the spirit of jest that men attribute what He has done to luck and fate? Does He ever take anything Inca spirit of levity? Nay, He is and has every right to be a jealous God! And when you attribute HIS works to “lady luck” He is furious in His jealousy! You take His name in vain and He is furious in His jealousy; but you name the creature as the cause and author of the works of the creator and He is just as furious in His righteous jealousy! He does not simply want to be God and want you to recognize Him as God. He IS God!
And fear before Him; reverence, awe and respect before Him as God manifests itself in speech that praises Him. Speech about luck and fate attribute His praises to the creature rather than to the creator!
Because we are not spiritually minded we do not say, “God willed it thus.” That is the language of the fear of the Lord! Instead of saying: “I had so much bad luck yesterday,” the language of His fear says: “It pleased God to send many distresses and griefs yesterday.” O, it is not easy to speak that way! But it is the speech that manifests His fear. It reveals a man to be consciously before the face of the Majesty on high. It gives Him His rightful place in all that which transpires in our fleeting life. It shows reverence before Him as the God of providence. It manifests a firm faith in Him as a sovereign God who does as it pleases Him.
Instead of claiming to have been lucky today the language of His fear points to this sovereign God and declares that it pleased Him to make my lot a pleasant one today. How atheistic man is by nature! How hard it is to form these words by our lips and how quickly that word “luck” slides off and reveals that God is not in all our thoughts!
Or we go to visit someone who has suffered some tragic blow by the hand of this sovereign and all-wise God. And before we realize it we have said to him that it is too bad that this had to happen to him. Too bad? Dare we criticize the works of God and call them bad? Can a man. stand in the fear of the Lord? can a man stand consciously before Him in His majesty and tell Him to His face that He has done something bad? He has made a mistake? Is that reverence and respect? Is that standing in awe before Him? Is that the language of faith?
Nay here is the language of His fear: “. . . by His hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things comenot by chance; but by His fatherly hand.” Italics ours, and have quoted from the Heidelberg Catechism, the answer to question twenty seven. That worships the creator rather than the creature. That praises God and ascribes all things to Him. It is the speech of one who stands in the fear of awe and reverence before Him. It displays a genuine love to Him.
And shall we pray to our “Father who art in heaven” that His name be hallowed and that HE “give us this day our daily bread” and “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” and then ascribe the bread we get to “luck? Are we then sincere in our prayer that His name be hallowed and that we be delivered from evil? How inconsistent is our life! How seldom we utter speech that manifests His fear!
Let us speak that language of the Heidelberg Catechism just quoted; and let us not be ashamed to do so before the world. Let us continue with the same Heidelberg Catechism and declare “. . . in all things that may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.” In His hands they are and not subject to some whim or fancy of “luck” and “fate.”
Indeed, “in all things that may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father.” But let us speak that way also. Man always looks to the future; and as a rational creature he cannot help but look forward to the future. In fact, what an awful thing if the regenerated child of God could not look forward to the future glory promised him? Yea, as rational, thinking, forward-looking people we are saved and sanctified. And for us it is wonderful to be able to look forward. The bed-ridden, believing saint who. has more than filled the allotted “four score years” by reason of strength and now is full of woe and life becomes a, burden surely with joy looks forward to what shall befall him. And God graciously and wonderfully gives him to look to the future, the future that knows no end and whose joys never cease.
But James warns us of a looking into the future which reveals its sinfulness by the speech that accompanies it. “Go to now,” he says, “ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city and continue there a year and buy and sell and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanished away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that,” James 4:13-15.
There you have Scripture itself telling us what the language of His fear is: “ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.” No “luck” there! Scriptures knows no such thing except as an evil.
And again we must beware. There are those whose every speech is concluded with a “the Lord willing.” For them it is a habit and nothing more. God is not in all their thoughts when they utter it. And to utter it thoughtlessly is as evil as to fail to speak it. But that there is more room in all of our lives to utter this beautiful, God-glorifying speech is self-evident.
All too quickly we utter phrases which end with the creature rather than with the creator when we look to the future as well as when we look back at an event that has just occurred. We say “weather permitting.” We announce our plans “conditions permitting.” How much more lofty and God-conscious that Scriptural phrase: “The Lord willing.”
It is rather amusing to a child of God also to hear a radio announcer declare that “Due to conditions beyond our control we are not able to bring you the program scheduled for this time.” And are some conditions in the hands of man? A wire has become loose; a tube has without warning burned out; a tape recording that usually arrived in the morning’s mail failed to make its appearances. Conditions beyond man’s control! And he will soon try to bring them under control. A mere speck of dust that is utterly dependent upon God will now go and find that loose connection and fix it? He can do that? He can replace that tube and trace that recording? If the Lord wills he shall. But his life is “even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” His life may be burned out too and vanish as a vapor before he ever reaches that burned out tube.
But who thinks of those things?
He who walks in His fear does. He, by the grace of God, knows God and stands in reverence and awe before Him. And he shows his respect for God in his speech. He utters speech that manifest His fear.