Karma Versus Sowing and Reaping—What's the Difference?

 Photo by  Evan Kirby  on  Unsplash

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

If people reap what they sow, why do we see so many instances where justice is not carried out in this world? The principle of karma has an answer for this dilemma: people will eventually be paid back with good or evil in future reincarnations for the deeds they have done in the past.

The Bible also has a response to the injustice we see around us: God will enact perfect justice, but it won’t come about until the end of this present age (Rev. 20:11–15).

The Bible refutes the idea of reincarnation.

The author of Hebrews declares,

It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Heb. 9:27)

There is no evidence to be found in the Bible, or anywhere else for that matter, of dead people returning to the earth in a reincarnated form. Yes, there are various biblical accounts of people being raised from the dead, but with the single exception of Jesus, they all died again eventually—and stayed dead.

“Sowing and reaping” occurs to some extent in this world, but not always or perfectly.

Justice exists in this present age, although it is imperfect at best. Civil governments punish criminals for their wrongdoings. In some cases the punishment is too lenient; in other cases, it is too severe. The saying, “What goes around, comes around,” plays out in everyday life as well. If you are unkind to people, they probably won’t want to spend time with you. If you don’t get enough sleep or eat a proper diet, your health will likely suffer over the long term.

Still, inequities abound in the world, and we struggle to make sense of them. The wicked often prosper in this age (Jer. 12:1). Many people commit wrongs against others and themselves but appear to suffer no longterm consequences for their behavior. The author of Ecclesiastes declares,

In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. (Eccles. 7:15)

The Bible explains why there is injustice in this world.

The Bible has a reasoned explanation for all this seeming lack of fairness: the world is filled with sin and misery due to humanity’s rebellion against God in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3). We all must live in a world that God originally made good but now suffers from the effects of Adam’s fall. Yes, there is still goodness in life, but everything groans under the curse that will be lifted someday—but not yet:

[T]he creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Rom. 8:21)

The good news is that the sad circumstances of this fallen world won’t have the final say, because God has already reconciled the world to himself in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).

The principle of karma burdens people with an unknown amount of effort throughout an unknown number of life cycles in order to attain a supposed state of bliss called nirvana. Yet, the Bible encourages us that the one true God will right all wrongs and bring about complete justice in his perfect timing.

3. Through faith in Jesus Christ, believers are justified, forgiven, and heirs to eternal life.

While unbelievers must one day stand before God based on their own works and bear their Creator’s just verdict for transgressing his laws, believers do not need to fear God’s final judgment. Because Christ has taken their punishment upon his own self, Christians can instead look forward to their vindication because God will judge them based upon the perfect righteousness of Christ that has been counted to them.

In the meantime, Jesus comforts his people in the midst of the inequities and trials of this present life:

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

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