Karma vs. Hesed

I’ve been learning about a Hebrew word, hesed (or chesed, as it’s also spelled). It’s translated 169 different ways in the Bible, most often as “steadfast love” and “lovingkindness.” Basically, the definition that I like the best is “when someone from whom you deserve and expect nothing gives you everything.”

I’ve also been seeing a lot of professing believers lately talking about karma, always in the context of other people who really deserve it. No one ever speaks of getting it for themselves.

I’m with Bono on this one. I don’t want karma for anybody else because I know I wouldn’t want it for myself. I’d be in deep doo doo if I got karma for all the dumb mistakes and poor choices I’ve made. I’d be up a certain creek without any paddles if I got my so-called just desserts over all the crap I’ve said and done.

If I get the choice, I choose hesed. My only hope in this life is not getting what I deserve but getting what I don’t deserve instead. I covet God’s lovingkindness and mercy because I daily and increasingly see my need of it.

So, karma is that you get what you deserve. Hesed says you get what you never in a million years could hope to deserve (and is the opposite of what you should probably get if you had karma coming to you) and you get what God delights in Jesus to give you.

I’m praying for hesed for me and for you.

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