Some Thoughts on Karma
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
What Karma is
Karma is a concept that comes from Indian philosophy. It means "action," based on the idea that good or bad actions determine the future of someone's existence. Today many people joke about Karma. People laugh and speak of 'instant karma' when some form of misfortune happens to their friend. Or, when the guy who cuts you off in traffic gets stopped by the police half a mile later. Many YouTube videos are called "instant karma" and laugh about people who trick others but get tricked themselves. There are 12 principles of Karma. The basic principle, however, is that good deeds lead to beneficial effects and bad deeds to harmful effects. It's the law of cause and effect. Whatever you put in, you will get back.
Should Christians endorse and live by the principle of Karma?
No. Karma is not a Christian concept. It is part of Hindu philosophy, and we can never blur the line between Christianity and any other religion. Yet, when we turn to the Bible, we see that the Bible does teach the retribution principle and this law of cause and effects. This is to prove that the human mind still has some remnants of the truth of God. But of course, without God, we turn these truths into pagan philosophies that are corrupted.
The Bible on Retribution Principles
A great story to reflect the retribution principle is the story of Ahab and his descendants. Ahab kills Naboth, and it says that the dogs licked his blood, in 1 Kings 21:19. God is very angry and says to Ahab that dogs will also lick up his blood. So based on this retribution principle, every time one of Ahab's descendants dies, it says in the Bible: "and the dogs licked his blood." "And the dogs licked his blood." "And the dogs licked his blood."
But not just through stories as these, but also through sayings, is the retribution principle explained in the Scriptures.
Obadiah says it: As you have done, it shall be done to you. Your deeds shall return to your head.
Proverbs states: "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him."
Jesus says it too: "Give, and it will be given to you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."
And, in Matthew 7:12, Jesus says: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets."
The breaking point between Karma and Christianity is God's grace.
Karma does not calculate grace, whereas the Bible does.
Karma teaches: you get what you deserve.
Grace teaches: I will still be good to you in my grace, even if you are not good to me.
Jesus explains in Matthew 5 that a concept like Karma is easy. Jesus says everyone can do that. But you, he says, you don't just be good to those who do good to you. The Father in heaven does not do that! He makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45).
Do you see that Christian morality is way harder than Karma?
Well, it gets harder.
Jesus says: If you do good to others, others may revile you and hate you. And can you then apply retribution? No. You must love them. Hard. People may hurt you. Do you then give them back what they deserve? No. You must love them hard.
We have no control over our stories through Karma. God wants our story to be perfect, as the Father in heaven is perfect. Yet there is a good ending, though. God says throughout the Bible: "Vengeance is mine. I will repay." Yes. Who digs a pit for you will fall into it. And yes, who hurts you will be hurt back. But by a judge in heaven. In heaven, God will be a perfectly righteous judge that does not forgive anything that Jesus Christ has not covered.
So can we use Karma for our stories? No. Use Christian principles instead. They are way harder but superior to any other religion.