of Bono and how Generosity kicks Karma in the butt

of Bono and how Generosity kicks Karma in the butt

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. [Proverbs 11.24-225]

The Proverbs speak of the benefits of generosity. Some people will be able to look a this as a bit of a Karma-esque type behaviour – the idea that the good or the bad that you put out comes back to you in some other form later on. This video clip and story that i shared on my personal blog indicate that.

But in the well known interview that took place between U2 frontman and all round rock star Bono and journalist Michka Assayas [from the book, ‘Bono: In conversation with Michka Assayas’, a great read] he has this to say, firstly about the importance of love:

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

And then later in the interview he moves on to talk about the distinction between Karma and Grace:

Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

So the idea that generosity should be linked to love and that it is a much bigger force than the idea of Karma. Hopefully there is a domino effect that as we demonstrate generosity in our lives, so others will see that and embrace it. Hopefully Generosity does indeed breed Generosity. I have experienced that in my own life – when someone has been generous to me, that has freed me up and invited me to extend that to others.

This is backed up by various other passages in the Bible such as this one found in Matthew 6:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What about you? Would you see yourself as a generous person or is this something you feel like you need to work on? Do you have a story to share with us of how someone showing generosity to you encouraged you to show generosity to someone else in return?




Brett Anderson

Brett "Fish" Anderson from South Africa (the country) is passionate about seeing the church live out what it says it believe in all areas of life. He is married to the beautiful Val (tbV) and hates raiSINs with a different kind of passion.
  • http://www.mst.edu/~oertherd danieloerther

    Bono nails the theology head on when he compares karma and grace and shares why he is so much more excited by grace. The YouTube video you shared, and the notion of ‘pay it forward’ are certainly ‘good’ concepts. Yet, its not clear that they are scriptural concepts. For me, I like to dwell on the meaning of passages like John 15:18-27 and the realization that we (‘humans’) killed the son of God (‘Jesus’) even though he’s entire purpose in coming to earth as a man was to bring us into a restored relationship with our creator. It reminds me of a recent commercial I watched that said, “let’s stop arguing about who created the world, and focus upon how we want to save the environment’. Yes, that’s a ‘nice idea’ to save the environment, but ‘throwing out’ the creation of the world diminishes God. And there’s nothing from scripture which makes me believe that God accepts diminishment at the hand of man. The only thing I’d change about this post is the title. I’d drop the word ‘generosity’ and replace it with ‘grace’. Generosity still has the flavor of ‘I do good for you because…’ while grace is more simple. Grace is just ‘I do for you’. Period. Nothing else follows. And I think that’s the theology that Bono was trying to share. (another way to view it might be, “I am generous with what I have” versus “I to recognize that none of its mine and I’m merely passing it along…” The former seems to be ‘generosity’ while the later seems to be ‘grace’).