This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Video YouTube channel.
The concept of Karma, from the Buddhist and Hindu roots, is about making a better future life by doing good things in the present life. Fundamentally, it is a self-based rewards system of doing good so that you will get good things in return in a future life. It is about earning by your own works, a better life, because you have merited it.
Sowing What You Reap Dilemma
Many people base their doubt or refusal to believe in God on the inequality they see in life. Good things happen to bad people, while bad things happen to good people. A just and fair God, they reason, would not let this happen. Rather, God would immediately penalize anyone doing bad things by having them experience a bad life or negative consequences. They believe anyone doing good things would be rewarded with a life, free of bad experiences or negative results.
The Karma Automatics
The allure of Karma is that the individual, not the unseen God, is in control of the quality of one’s life. Do good things and Karma must deliver to you a good life. It is automatic and without the complications of the effects of the actions of others. The individual is in complete control.
The Bible’s Perspective of Control
In Galatians 6:7-10, we learn that God is not deceived about our motives. Though we are motivated enough to do good things, if those motives are selfish, or fleshly, they are not truly good. These poor motives, seen by God, will not lead to a gift of a good life, or the automatic result, as guaranteed by Karma. Therefore, eternal life is a reward from God and we do good because we love him, not to earn his love.
What Life’s Circumstances Actually Demonstrate
God is constantly granting everyone an opportunity to receive his gift of eternal life. Matthew 5:45 teaches that God makes the sun to rise and the rain to fall on everyone. Metaphorically, this passage states that good things and bad things come into everyone’s life. The purpose of every event, good and bad, is to give us opportunity to see God’s love at work in our lives and for us to respond in love to him. We have the chance to do good for others, regardless of our circumstances, a selfless motive that God will reward. Further, God’s love never fails and will not reject us whether our lives have been filled with good or evil deeds. We reap based on our attitude and actions toward God’s love.
A True Believer’s Response
One of the biggest challenges for a follower of God is to have faith when things don’t go well. In Daniel 3:16-19, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are facing King Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man in the world at that time. He orders them to bow down and worship him. But they refuse to do this, because they are followers of God and have determined to worship only God. They stated boldly that God can save them from the death penalty their refusal will bring, but, even if God does not save them, they will still refuse to worship the king. They leave the consequences of their actions in God’s hands, expecting only that he will love them in whatever way he sees best.
[Related: Are There Rewards in Heaven?]
Karma is about being rewarded based on your actions and choices, putting your fate into your own hands. God, however, rewards us based on his grace and great love for us, often giving us what we do not deserve. God’s love is available to everyone, regardless of what they have done. It is not up to the individual if they can be saved. It is their choice whether to receive God’s grace.
Written content on this topic by David Bassett.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Have you ever seen something happen that seemed like “instant karma?” What happened?
- Share a time when you were discouraged because you felt as if your life was directed by “bad karma.”
- Read Matthew 5:45 Discuss the notion that God is fair to everyone.
- Share a time when you had something good happen to you, even though you made a bad decision or acted poorly.
- Read Daniel 3:16-19. Discuss how easy or difficult it is to be confident like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to know that God will care for you.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.