Karma or Christianity?

I was in a debate the other day when it was mentioned multiple times that Christianity cannot be Karma. Within the context of the conversation, Karma was being used in the more general usage that if you do something good it will come back to you, and if you do something bad it will come back to you. The statement was made with the presupposition that the world’s view of Karma could not be what is taught in the Bible.

Karma however, aside from the actual eastern religious tendencies it involves, seems to center on balance. When you do right, right will be done to you. When you do wrong, wrong will be done to you. Someone mentioned the principle that if you cast your bread upon many waters it will return unto you. And the thought was negative.

The opposing thought was that God blesses no matter what. Not common grace, rain-on-just-and-unjust-type blessing. The question was phrased in the negative (to be fair, it was a question): “If I do not live perfectly will I miss out on blessings I could have had, had I lived right?” The implied answer being argued at one point was no. We would not miss out on any blessings due to our actions in life.

The Bible says that which a man soweth he will also reap. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

“to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”

“He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity”

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” — Not just a proverb now, but a NT principle on giving to missions

“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10…interesting because it has a winky face at the end of the verse.)

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Is this Karma? Or is this Christianity? This is Christianity. We reap what we sow. There is a principle of cause and effect that God has placed in the world, but this isn’t even that. God is not mocked. It is not nature, or nature’s laws that say this. It is not a force of balance in the universe that brings these things to pass. God is not mocked. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Though the context for some of these implies eternal reaping, the principle is not just eternal. It is a principle of daily life.

James 1, though it did not settle it, certainly quieted the discussion. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God…Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering…Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” To get this wisdom, we must ask in faith. There is a requirement/condition upon our reception of this wisdom from God. Not that God can’t or doesn’t give wisdom to whomever and however He chooses, but He said this man will not receive anything of Him. This answers the question if we will receive the same blessings regardless of how we live. Further, the Bible bears this out in other places.

We live right because we love God, but the Bible also sets forth the principles of reward for doing right. Heaven is not to be our sole goal for getting saved, nor is escape from Hell, but both are arguments from Scripture to be saved. Punishment and reward are both aspects of life and the afterlife, and these depend on what we do with the life God has given us. Certainly God can and does bless regardless of things in our lives, yet, we also see a principle of reaping what we sow. This is not Karma, but Christianity.

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2 thoughts on “Karma or Christianity?

  1. It is interesting, is it not, how Eastern religion tends to invade “pop culture.” In this case, of course, it is Hinduism. We use the term “Karma” very loosely here, and most people do not even know what it actually refers to. Technically “Karma” is one of the four paths that Hindus are taught to be the way to enlightenment. And, in Hinduism, enlightenment means the end of the rebirth (or reincarnation) cycle. The idea is that the more good works you do, the higher level you will be reincarnated to. Once you reach a high enough level, you become part of the universal conscience (what they call god) and cease to be reincarnated. Obviously, we do not use the word “karma” with all that in mind, but I think it is useful background.

    I see both sides to the debate – and I also see how they both work together. Haha. The rain DOES fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous alike. People who are lost in their sins DO benefit from divine benevolence. Unregenerate sinners enjoy life, breath, money, fame, food, family, etc… This seems to have been somewhat of a common stumbling point for King David.

    However, we are also taught that we reap what we sow. We are taught that the path of the unrighteous leads to death. We are taught that faith and dependence in Christ lead to eternal life. We are indeed taught, over and over again in the Scriptures, that there ARE consequences to our actions. I have been going through Jeremiah in my daily readings, and that book is absolutely FULL of this.

    Here is where both positions meet. There are two types of divine benevolence. The general type – the one that every creature which draws breath enjoys. Then there is the special type – that type through which God blesses His own. As a side note (that probably deserves it’s own discussion, really), the reason why the unsaved have somewhat cutsie ways of viewing “hell” (“Well I will be with friends.” “All the cool people will be in hell.” Etc…) is because they cannot fathom the complete removal of God’s general benevolence in their lives. This ends up being a very frightening topic. Tangent over – back to the main topic. 😉

    It should be pointed out that the blessings that God promises His children are not because of any righteousness that we actually have of our own accord. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ – and it is this righteousness that is rewarded with blessing. Furthermore, the blessings He promises are not NECESSARILY enjoyed in this life. Certainly, some are. But for some, almost all of them are enjoyed in Heaven. For all of us, in fact, many of the blessings can only be experienced in Heaven.

    Those two point distinguish themselves from both the Hindu version of Karma and the more widely used and adopted version and meaning of that word. But it is absolutely false to take the other extreme and say that what you do has no bearing on the blessings we receive from God.

    This is my point of view, which falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes mentioned. There is no perfect balance of good to good and bad to bad here on the earth (take Job as an example), and in no way does God bless everyone equally, independent of their godliness.

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