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KARMA and Christianity
The Karmic Philosophy
What is karma? There are some Christians today that believe in karma, being careful to think, speak and do good in order to rest assured that no evil will befall them. If they understood what karma really is, they might realize the error of this type of thinking. Karma is a concept rooted in Indian and other Eastern religions that one’s own thoughts, words or deeds bring about the cycle of cause and effect. Karma is a religious belief system adopted by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies. They believe each person’s behaviors (even from past lives) actively shape his or her present and future experiences. They are “works-focused” religions.
For a Christian to “believe” in karma is to think the “reap what you sow” biblical concept applies to our earthly outcome, though orchestrated by God. This is right in line with Hinduism. A good summary of the theistic view of karma is expressed by the following: "God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve." Have you ever read the book of Job? Now, the atheistic view of karma, according to the Jainism perspective, is that the individual is the one in control of his or her own karma.
Consider that the Vedas follow the atheistic way of thinking ~ that if we sow goodness we will reap goodness; if we sow evil we will reap evil. Though Hindus are theistic, nearly all existing sects are directly or indirectly influenced by the Gnostic systems developed by Vedantic thinkers, of which the goal is a state of self-realization or “cosmic consciousness”. ..very New Age.
Ever so subtly, Christians can be drawn into this pagan way of thinking. Surely, it is not godly!! While karma is the philosophy that we sow earthly seed and reap earthly rewards, the Bible encourages us to sow heavenly seed to reap heavenly rewards. What’s the difference?
Reap What You Sow
If we always reap what we sow, the Bible would clearly confirm this. To the contrary; let’s look at just a few passages of scripture that contradict karmic philosophy:
In Jeremiah 12:1 we see that the wicked actually REAP (prosper) in this world! “Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You; Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?”
On the other hand, God can thwart the reaping of the wicked. This truly shows that karma is not a Biblical concept:
Jeremiah 12:13: “They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns, they have strained themselves to no profit. But be ashamed of your harvest because of the fierce anger of the LORD."
Hosea 8:7: “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.”
Micah 6:15: “You will sow but you will not reap. You will tread the olive but will not anoint yourself with oil; and the grapes, but you will not drink wine.”
And sometimes, God works quite the opposite of karma:
Psalm 126:5: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.”
Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
But what about the scripture that says, “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap”? Let’s read this in context, and then understand its meaning:
Galatians 6:7-9: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” What is this talking about? When we put our faith in works in order to determine our earthly outcome, we are sowing to the flesh. When we put our faith in Christ we are sowing to the Spirit and reap eternal life!
Understand the Sower and the Seed
In Matthew 13:24-30, we read the parable of the sower and the seed. The One who sows good seed (wheat) is God. However, Satan then comes along and sows bad seed (tares) among the good. The “good seed” represents the children of God; the “bad seed” are the children of Satan. Indeed, the workers question the Sower as to whether they should pull up the tares right away! They are told to let the tares remain; for if the tares are pulled up now, some of the wheat might get pulled up, too. Both must grow together until the time of the harvest.
Seed produces more seed, right? So what exactly IS the seed we are to sow? Is it literal wheat? Does it represent money? Is it good or bad deeds? Luke 8:11 tells us, “Now the parable is this: the seed is the Word of God.”
Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) and is the first “seed” sown in God’s “field”. Galatians 3:18 confirms this: “Why the Law [of Moses] then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator [Moses], until the seed [Jesus Christ] would come to whom the promise had been made.” Speaking of mediators, the New Covenant now makes Jesus Christ the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
Someone sowed that seed in me, praise God! 1 Peter 1:23 states, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Is the seed of the gospel planted in you? Is it taking root? Do you sow the seed of the gospel unto the harvest of souls? If we have the seed of Christ in us, we now labor to sow this seed (the gospel) in His field (the world). For more on this seed, read another of Jesus’ parables found in Matthew 13:3-8; 18-23 and Luke 8:4-15.
However, contrary to karmic philosophy, we won’t necessarily reap what we sow! John 4:38 states, “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored [sown]; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."
And 1 Corinthians 3:7 states, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”
The Harvest is Ripe!
Earlier we read that the wheat and tares will grow together “until the time of the harvest”. What exactly is “the harvest”? We already distinguished that the world is the field made up of wheat and tares. The wheat are the saved; the tares are those who attempt to choke off or destroy the wheat ~ WEEDS. We, as the good seed, sow more seed (the gospel) into the field (the world). Unfortunately, the tares spread like wildfire, too! The harvest happens at the end of the age. First, the tares will be gathered and bound, then thrown into the fire. Then, the wheat will be harvested into the barn (heaven).
Until then, we remember the words of Jesus found in Matthew 9:37: “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’”
We can stand on His promise found in 2 Corinthians 9:10: “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” Well, we know this really isn’t “our” righteousness, but the righteousness of God in us. And, it is not we who bring the increase, but God.
As we can see, believers who think that karma is a Christian concept are mistaken (missing the mark). We are to hold fast to the seed of Christ’s gospel in us. Nothing we think, say or do determines a karmic cycle, for the Bible tells us that our “righteous works” are as filthy rags to the Lord (Isaiah 64:6), and that our righteousness is only in Jesus Christ, our Savior (2 Corinthians 5:21)! It is not by faith in our works (karma), but faith in Him whereby we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9)! In fact, those who have the attitude of “entitlement” because of good works (even works done in His name) will be told to “Depart from Me, you who work iniquity!” (Matthew 25:41). Be blessed this day ~ Beloved, stay on the narrow path of Truth! Amen.