“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” ~ Galatians 6:7
I’ve heard a lot of people tell me that the concept of karma isn’t expressed in the Bible, but I can’t think of a more concise definition of karma that than passage right there. What you sow is what you reap. So simple that even a child can understand, yet profound enough to have an impact on everything we do. It’s also one of the few fundamental laws of the universe. There aren’t very many absolutes in life, but causality, action-reaction, is one of them. Everything has a cause and everything has an effect. Nothing happens by accident. If you had full and complete knowledge of a system’s causes, you could predict all its effects.
That’s really what karma is, except that karma tends to be more focused on the behaviors of human beings. If you do something good, you’ll eventually be rewarded. If you do something bad, you’ll eventually be punished. And usually, that reward or punishment will be both in accordance with what you did and several times greater in yield. Just as a single seed, overtime, can yield many fruits, each with many seeds of the same type, so too do our actions bear fruit.
In explaining the concept of karma, I’ve always found it helpful to think of karma as a form of spiritual currency. Many of the same rules of currency can also be applied to karma.
For instance, say you get paid and are feeling really good about it. You go to the bank and deposit your money into a savings account. The bank then takes that money and lends it to someone else, so the money makes its way through the system. The bank then collects interest on loans and transfers it to your savings account in the form of interest. Now you have more money than you put into the system. Conversely, when you take out a loan, the idea is that you borrow someone else’s money, use it to create something of value, and then repay the full amount with a little extra as the cost of doing business. The extra value comes from having multiplied your commercial energy through the act of creation. If you can’t pay your debts, then your creditors will add penalties and fees because they think you’re being irresponsible and squandering the money they gave you, so you must be taught a lesson.
When you do something for another person. You are giving some of your own energy to that person. They then take that energy and transfer it to someone else. That energy goes into the system we call the universe, which has theoretically unlimited energy. Eventually, some of that energy will come back to you through the deeds of other people or from the universe itself, usually with a bit more or at exactly the right time you need something. So going things for others is like investing your energy into the Bank of the Universe and collecting interest on it.
Conversely, when you do something for yourself, it’s like taking out a loan. You are borrowing energy from the universe to satisfy your own needs. Hopefully, once those needs are met, you’ll be in a better position to give back that energy and contribute to serving others. If you don’t, but instead squander that energy and use it to hurt others or deprive them, then eventually you will have to pay for what you’ve done with extra fees attached.
That is the basic principle of karma. What you put in, you get out. What you take out, you must put back in.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~ Romans 6:23
I was listening to some audio lectures by Brandon Adams on commercial law. One of the things he talked about is how the Bible can be seen through many lenses, one of which includes a commercial lens.
For instance, it’s said that Christ’s sacrifice has redeemed us. What does it mean to redeem something? If you have a coupon, you go and redeem it and get stuff. Well, the redemption is basically a certificate that says the thing is prepaid, whether in part or in full. It’s on someone else’s tab, a gift that you just have to accept.
Originally, we lived in a paradise called Eden, which was a commercial-free zone. Everything we wanted was free for the taking, so long as we observed the rules that God set down. The only rules at the time were be fruitful and multiply, take care of the earth and everything on it, and don’t touch the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge. If the rules were broken, God would demand payment in blood.
Adam and Eve broke the rules by eating from the tree. God said that the punishment for this would be payment in blood, but as we know, Adam and Eve didn’t die. Instead, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, i.e. they entered a different jurisdiction of law. They no longer had access to free stuff and were forced to labor (Gensis 3:16 for Eve and 3:17 for Adam) for things. God revoked the privileges of Eden, but discharged the debt, off-setting it to a later date. So Adam and Eve and their descendants could live for a while, but they still had to pay for the damages. Originally, they offered fig leaves, but God, being the creditor, wanted payment in the form of blood sacrifice, so eventually, the two would have to die. During the course of their lives, however, they and their descendants would have to offer up animal sacrifices.
Cain tried to offer fruits and vegetables, but that wasn’t an acceptable form of currency. Abel, on the other hand, offered God an acceptable currency in the blood of lambs, and God favored Abel more. So Cain slew Abel to pay his debts, but this damaged God’s property (our bodies are vessels of the soul) and so God demanded restitution. So Cain’s fate became the same as that of Adam and Eve: banishment and labor.
Abraham offered payment to God in this form as well. Eventually, following the Exodus, this became the standard ritual and God further contracted with mankind in the form of a covenant. Basically, sin is a form of spiritual debt and must be repaid in blood, which is where we get such ideas as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This is all balancing debts.
In Exodus 34:7, God declares that he is willing to offer mercy and forgiveness to those that have repaid their karmic debts, but that those who remain guilty, his wrath will extend to the man’s descendants. Basically, this is the spiritual equivalent of life insurance. If you have enough money saved up, your descendants will inherit when you die and receive a better start on life. Likewise, if you leave the world in a better place than when you found it, future generations will reap the benefits. Conversely, if you leave this world with a lot of debts, your family will suffer in paying your bills. And unfortunately, we as humans have wracked up a lot of karmic debts over the course of thousands of years and the Bank of the Universe isn’t at all pleased with this.
So now we come to the time of Christ where Jesus volunteered his own life, taking on the sins (karmic debts) of the world. He and God made a deal that Christ’s blood would replace the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament and serve as an extension of credit to the human race. This is why Christ declares that his is the “blood of the new and everlasting covenant,” with the old covenant being “pay with the blood of animals or die.”
In dying for our sins, Christ gave us a great gift. He settled our tab, as it were, and wiped the slate clean, balancing our karmic books and zeroing out all the accounts. God would no longer demand blood sacrifice during the course of our lives. The original debt had been paid. So only new debts would affect us and it was our choice to put his gift to good use or squander it. If we put it to good use, then we will eventually prove that we are responsible individuals worthy of returning to the commercial-free zone of Eden. However, if we squander that gift, God will once again demand payment in blood and suffering.