“What goes around comes around”
It’s hard to say when we learn this little expression. Maybe as children when another child is cruel to us.
Perhaps it’s when someone we’re dating as teenagers breaks our heart by breaking up with us for someone else. Maybe it’s as adults when a coworker cheats you out of a promotion.
It’s basically based in karma, not Christianity. Since most of my readers are Christian (or at least friendly towards it), I can understand why we adopt this.
We really want it to be true. Just wait long enough and the same crud someone dished out to us (or those we love–or even society) will be paid back and they’ll get theirs.
In a way, it’s true. But as we learn from Ecclesiastes 8:11–13, it’s not true in the way we want it to be.
11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. 12 Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.
Ecclesiastes 8:11–13 (NIV)
We’ve all experienced the reality of verse 11. When justice is delayed, it emboldens others to follow in the footsteps of the criminal. This further demonstrates the depths of human depravity: apart from a strong moral code driven by God, societies will collapse into disarray.
Solomon also noticed that it seems only the good die young. But Solomon is not ready to abandon righteous living to so trite an observation. Even if the wicked live a long time and commit many crimes, there is still a payday. Perhaps they will not face it in this life, but their judgment is certain.
At the end of it all, there is no substance to their existence. Chasing one evil deed after another, the wicked are still in a far worse position than even the most short-lived righteous person.
When a faithful follower of the Lord dies, they are welcomed into Heaven as a child coming home. There is peace. There is love. There is light. There is an end to the suffering of this life.
When someone who is wicked dies, their “good life” is over. Judgment awaits them. Banishment from God’s presence greets them. Hell is their destination and their suffering will last for an eternity.
As much as we as Christians should pursue strong laws (and subsequent strong enforcement) to enact justice in our land, this will not solve the fundamental problem. That problem is the human heart.
Only Jesus can bring the dead to life, the wicked to righteousness, the unholy to holy, and the outcast to a welcomed child. There will always be injustices in the world. As we rage against them may we never forget: the hope of the world is not legislation, but the Good News that Jesus saves.
So don’t tell yourself, “what goes around comes around”. Instead, tell yourself, “It’s all right. Jesus is still in charge and His Law still reigns.”