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Find Peace with God

CBN.com Youth Section

 
God's Grace

Overcoming Your Karma

By Elliott Ryan
Guest Writer

CBN.com – I watch more TV than I should. At least that is what I’m told sometimes at church. I often find myself using examples from TV shows in my teaching. “What Jesus is saying here reminds me of that episode of “The Cosby Show” where Dr. Huxtable…”

So recently I was watching an episode of an NBC sitcom entitled “My Name is Earl.” It stars Jason Lee (known for starring in such movies as Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky) as a man whose life is in shambles. He has mistreated people his whole life and it is starting to catch up with him. He was watching Carson Daly on TV during the first episode. Carson talked about how he thought his success in life was a result of karma. He had done good things to others. As a result, good things had happened to him.

Earl decides that the bad things happening to him are a direct result of him treating others so badly for so many years. He decides to improve his karma by making a list of everyone he has ever mistreated. One by one, he is going back to each of these people and trying to make up for what he has done. That is the concept of the show. Earl’s list is so long that this series could go on forever.

The concept of “karma” is an integral part of Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. According to this belief, our lives are controlled by karma, a sort of cosmic cause and effect. If we do good things, we will have good karma that rewards us with good circumstances. And of course, the opposite is also true. When we do bad things, we will have bad karma that punishes us with bad circumstances. Adherents to Hinduism and Buddhism, who believe we will all be reincarnated to live many different lives, even hold to the idea that good and bad karma carries over from previous lives. And your behavior in this life will also affect your status in your next life.

Only a tiny percentage of Americans claim they are devotees of Buddhism or Hinduism, but the idea of karma is widely accepted in this country. Even people who don’t use the term still seem to believe in the concept. They would word it as, “What goes around, comes around.”

In fact, most societies throughout human history have had a moral code that compelled citizens to do the right thing by other people. Our sinful human nature influences us to put ourselves first regardless of how it affects other people. While we should know better, we humans seem to need an outside force to remind us to behave. So, goodness is rewarded and evil is punished. A societal expectation has been set up that deems it necessary to treat others properly. Or as Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

The problem with the idea of karma is that it reduces good behavior to an exact equation. A person’s good deeds must outweigh their bad. If karma is a reality, we will all get exactly what we deserve. That should scare us. Scripture tells us what we deserve. Romans 6:23 says that, because we have all at one time or another sinned, we all deserve death. Not just physical death – but spiritual death too. We all deserve eternal separation from God.

That is not something we have to fear though. God’s grace calms our fears. Grace is the undeserved love and mercy of God that He will show to anyone who enters into a personal relationship with Him. It does not matter how evil we have behaved in the past. God is willing to wipe our slates clean. If we are willing to turn away from evil and to Him, we will not receive the punishment we deserve. But we will receive the blessings we do not deserve. Scripture says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2: 8 & 9).

I thought about sitting down and making a list of all the people I have ever wronged. I considered thinking of ways to make it up to them all. I’m not even sure where I would begin. I could not even remember all the people I have ever mistreated. And if I could, there isn’t anything I could do to make it up to everyone. Earl’s road to redemption might make for must see TV. But it isn’t a realistic option.

Instead, I think I’ll just be eternally grateful for God’s grace. I will spend the rest of my life striving to live up to the righteousness that is expected of someone who has been given such a great gift from such a holy God. But if I fail at times, I won’t need to come up with a list of wrongs for me to right. Someone else has already taken care of that for me. What goes around does not always come around. Thank you God.


Related Links:
Do you have the assurance that your sins have been forgiven?
If not, check out this page: Find Peace with God

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