Is it Inappropriate for Christians to Be Assertive?
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Is it Inappropriate for Christians to Be Assertive?

FAQ: Should Christians Believe in Karma?

When we read the Bible, we see God’s promises everywhere. So many of us say, “God, I’m holding you to your promises. You said this, so I should expect X, Y or Z.” We may think God follows the law of karma: for every good thing we do, we’ll receive some specific good in return. If I help someone with directions, I’ll get a raise. If I donate blood, I’ll ace the SAT.

But do we always understand God’s promises? If we don’t, we might expect something from the Lord that we shouldn’t expect.

We see this problem in prosperity gospel theology. In this movement, people say that if you’re being faithful to the Lord, then God will bless you with health and wealth. So people devote their lives to Jesus, try to be faithful, and then still fall into sickness and poverty. They think God hasn’t made good on his promise and they get upset. Some even turn away from the Lord.

But God never breaks his promises. Instead, we misunderstand his promises.

It’s true that we reap what we sow. That’s a true scriptural principle. But that doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen God’s people. It’s not like the Hindu idea of karma. Sometimes, our good deeds may only bring us trouble.

The apostle Paul said, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:9). If you sow to the flesh, living in in unrepentant sin (Gal. 5:19–20), you’ll face judgment. You’ll get the fitting consequences for your action—you reap what you sow. If, you sow to the Holy Spirit—living in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and so on (Gal. 5:22–23)—you’ll reap the good fruit of that.

When you do the right thing, you reap the benefit. But the benefit may not be what you think it is. The main fruit of obedience to the Lord is the sense of God’s presence. That’s what we reap. That’s the great good that God blesses us with. We can’t say, based on a promise in the Bible, “Well, I did this, so God owes me that.” In general, that’s not how it works.

The Lord loves his people. He doesn’t keep from us anything we truly need. He keeps his promises to bless you and to be with you. In His Son, Jesus, he gives us forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We might not have earthly blessing we want. We may not get a raise or find our lost car keys, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t being faithful to his promises.

This article is part of our Frequently Asked Questions series. Listen to Pastor Adriel answer this question on Core Radio here.

Dig deeper with these free resources from Core Christianity:

Core QUESTIONS

These clear and concise PDFs answer some of your toughest questions about the Christian faith:
How Can Christianity Be True if God Allows Evil and Suffering?, How Can God Use All Things for Our Good?, How Does Jesus Work Today?, How Do Christians Relate to the Law?

Core GUIDES

Dive deeper with these lengthier and more thorough guides to difficult topics in the Christian life:
10 Ways God Reveals Himself as our Father

Photo of Adriel Sanchez
Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their five children.