The Bible doesn’t speak explicitly about luck, but it certainly addresses the question.
The Bible tells us:
- Every decision is God’s (Proverbs 16:33)
- God is sovereign over all things (Colossians 1:17, Isaiah 46:10)
- He ordains all things (Ephesians 1:11)
- He places and removes leaders (Daniel 2:21)
- He provides (Matthew 10)
- He establishes man’s steps (Proverbs 16:9)
So what does the Bible say about luck? The Bible tells us nothing happens by luck or chance, but that all things happen by the power, will, and knowledge of God.
What is Luck?
Let’s start with a definition. Luck refers to good things and bad things happening to us by chance.
The Oxford dictionary says, “Luck the force that causes good or bad things to happen to people: This ring has always brought me good luck. Chance the way that some things happen without any cause that you can see or understand: The results could simply be due to chance.”
So luck and chance go hand-in-hand. They are forces that cause good or bad to happen – and they’re completely outside of anyone’s control – ours and God’s.
Does the Bible Address Luck Directly?
The word “luck” is not found in the Bible – unless you read the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, where it is mentioned in Isaiah 65 in reference to God’s people serving “the god of good luck” rather than Himself.
So the Bible does not directly address luck, but there are a few themes we can draw from the above passages that might help us better understand what the Bible does say about luck and chance.
The Bible Says God is Sovereign Over and Ordains All Events
First, the Bible is clear that God is sovereign over all things. He causes all things to happen. In other words, He declares how things will turn out long before they happen (even something as specific as Jesus dying in the ninth hour).
In Isaiah 46:8-11 (NIV) He says,
“Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.”
He plans all things. And He accomplishes all things He plans.
He is Sovereign Over the Little Things
Many believe the “big” things in life are caused by God, but there’s no way He’s involved in the “little” stuff.
Proverbs 16:33 tells us, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” In modern language we might say something like, “The dice are rolled on the table and every turn is decided by God.” There are no events so small that he does not rule for his purposes.
He is Sovereign Over the Big Things
Not only does He decide how the dice will land when you’re playing Monopoly, He is also in control over who will be named president and who will reign as king.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
And Daniel says, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; . . . the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will…”
He is in complete control over who rules our world, the weather,
If I’m Obedient Will I Inherit Good Fortune?
Some might say or believe something like, “Well, if I’m obedient and do what God says, good things will happen to me.” Many would call this a prosperity gospel – a belief that good things – luck perhaps – would come to those who are faithful.
We see in the Scriptures this isn’t true.
Job was a righteous man – and yet lost everything.
Many of the most faithful prophets lived difficult and lonely lives.
All but one of the apostles was executed.
Talk about bad luck…
Solomon ponders in Ecclesiastes why things happen to people. He says,”The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all…”
Some might assume that because of that last phrase the Bible does affirm luck and chance. But if you read the whole of Ecclesiastes, you’ll see it’s true that Solomon concludes the fastest don’t always win the race, the wise don’t always find themselves wealthy, and the most skilled don’t always see favor.
But he also confirms the sovereignty of God: “Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
Can Sovereignty and Luck Exist Together?
You might wonder, “Okay I believe God is sovereign, but there have to be some circumstances where things just happen by chance, right? Aren’t you just being hyper spiritual?”
It’s a good question, but the Bible is clear they can not.
If God really is sovereign and in control of all events, then chance can’t have a place.
That said, as Solomon wondered, it’s definitely true that things may appear to happen by chance. When the fastest don’t win the race or the smartest person doesn’t make the most money, it may seem like someone has gotten lucky or unlucky.
But we rest knowing that even in the smallest things we wouldn’t think God would be involved in – He is.
What Do Christians Believe About Luck?
So in conclusion, the Bible doesn’t directly address luck. But it does directly address God’s sovereignty and providence, which are at odds with luck and chance.
Most Christians don’t believe in luck. Does this mean it’s sinful to use the term “good luck” or that you aren’t allowed to celebrate St. Patrick’s day? Probably not.
But you should consider His presence, involvement, and interest in every single small event in your life. If you feel you’ve fallen on bad luck and this truth isn’t the most encouraging for you, remember that He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
Good luck on your journey.