Are You Sure You Want To Believe In Karma?

Over the last decade or so, the word karma has woven itself into the fabric of our English language. Rooted in Eastern religions, karma—according to the Klassen Dictionary of Everyday Vernacular—means payback. If you steal, eventually someone will steal from you. If you live a life of deception, eventually you will be deceived. And if you are kind, you will receive kindness as well. What goes around, comes around.

While the Bible affirms sowing and reaping, I’m glad it isn’t an airtight, universal law. If it were, we’d be in trouble.

Today, in a selection from one of our readings, we’re going to delve a little deeper into the deep faith of a flawed man named Abraham. If karma were true, he probably wouldn’t appear in the Bible.


Genesis 20:1-22:24
Matthew 7:15-29
Psalm 9:1-12
Proverbs 2:16-22


Genesis 20:6. After being told that he had taken a married woman into his harem, God appeared to King Abimelech in a dream and said, “I have kept you from sinning against me.” I don’t know where to go with this—God kept Abimelech from sinning. I wonder how often he prevents us from sinning, and why doesn’t he do it more?

Genesis 20:16. A thousand shekels is equivalent to more money than a worker could earn to make in a lifetime.

Genesis 21:11. The translation of this verse understates Abraham’s feelings about kicking Ishmael out of the family. Abraham was more than distressed, he was angry about losing a son whom he dearly loved.

Genesis 21:20. This is another example of God’s hand on Ishmael. He may not have been the child of promise like Isaac, but he was a recipient of God’s convenantal blessing.

Genesis 22. Finally, we get a glimpse of Abraham’s great faith. After God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, he left instructions with his servants saying, “We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5 emphasis added). Mt. Moriah is usually identified as the location of the Temple (and present-day Mosque of Omar). Abraham’s sacrifice on the mountain foreshadowed the sacrifices on the same mountain hundreds of years later—and the sacrifice of Jesus, the lamb of God, almost 2000 years later.

Matthew 7:24-27. Who or what is the rock in this parable? I’ve often heard people say it’s Jesus or the word of God, but both are incorrect. The rock is obedience to Jesus and his word. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

Psalm 9. This psalm is a great reminder of not only who’s in control, but the character of the one in control.


One of the reasons I’m convinced that the Bible is true is because it refuses to gloss over the shortcomings of its characters, even its most important characters like Abraham.

In today’s reading, Abraham once again allows his wife Sarah to be taken into the king’s harem. The first time, he was living in Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20). Since it occurred immediately following his initial covenant with God, I said to myself, Let’s cut Abraham some slack—he’s just beginning his relationship with God.

But two covenants later, Abraham commits the same offense by allowing his wife to be taken into another king’s harem. Most disturbing to me is that this happened after the final covenant, when God changed his name. With the change in name, I guess I would assume that Abraham would have undergone some sort of transformation. But what’s true of me must also be true of him. Transformation never happens over night. If it even happens.

Although Scripture hails him as a great man of faith (Hebrews 11:8-19), Abraham was still a man with faults like you and me. Paul writes in Romans 11:9 that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Like Abraham, if God only gave us good things when we exhibited faultless behavior, none of us would have anything.

Let’s be honest. If karma existed and God rewarded us for our behavior, we’d be toast!


  1. What insights did you have as you read the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac in Genesis 22?
  2. Has God ever asked you to sacrifice something dear, only to give it back? Please share.
  3. In Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus issues a pretty stern warning against false prophets. Do you think we’re as watchful as we should be? Why or why not?


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4 responses to “Are You Sure You Want To Believe In Karma?

  1. jayn

    As the Newsboys say: “When we don’t get what we deserve – that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve – that’s a real good thing.”

    Thank God for grace.

  2. Mike

    Because of the question it just came together for me that God did this! It was 45 years ago God provided a situation where I had to give up what I most wanted because it was the only proper choice and the only adult choice. The woman I loved was engaged to another man. I could moan and pity myself or I could grow up, let go and move on. The wedding was 3 weeks away when she cancelled it and we will celebrate 44 years together in May. However I do not understand Abraham’s attitude toward Sarah.

  3. Tony

    I have shared before that I had committed a sin 20 yrs ago that caused me to lose my family. A few yrs after that Daddy had restore most of that, though not the marriage. My children were back in my life and I was working in ministry.
    One day as I was before Him, He said this, “My son you lost everything because of your sin. I have restored that. would you now be willing to lose it all again for Me?
    I broke. I saw the loss of my dear little boy and girls. I felt the pain of separation. I wept and I said to Him, “Crush me into dust so that the water of Life can be poured out upon me and Your Holy Spirit can mold me into the image of Your Son.
    He began that process shortly thereafter. I made some unwise choices that led to my loss of position in ministry. I became homeless and Daddy began to teach me about Love.
    My parents and my children’s mother often, over the yrs, rebuked me for the choices I would make. I chose to only do what He said. My children hated me because I was not there for them. Daddy led the woman he brought into my life and I on a journey of faith that continues to this day.
    Only recently have my children begun to be restored. They still do not understand the loss of those yrs. That day Daddy made me a promise. If I would obey Him and follow Him no matter where that led that He would see to it that my children would one day turn back to Him and would understand that I had chosen obedience for their sake.

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