Friday, February 26, 2010

When Secular and Christian Philosophy Cross Paths (Karma)

In its most basic form, the concept that what goes around comes around is correct. But this isn’t correct precisely because of some impersonal force of the universe, or the work of deities, or because people choose to repay in kind other people who they know to have done good or bad. Moreover, justification of a belief that “what goes around comes around” is not limited to wishful thinking or to observation of unfortunate series of events which may (all things considered) turn out to be mere conicidences in the first place. On the contrary, a full account of the matter at hand cannot be made without those truths of which the Scriptures have already informed us:

Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed. (Proverbs 13.21)

The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man [shall be satisfied] from himself. (Proverbs 14.14)

I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17.10)

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16.27)

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6.7)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22.12)
So God will repay people for their deeds, whether these deeds were good or bad and whether these deeds were done openly or in secret. Repayment may be unpleasant (Romans 12.19, 2 Thessalonians 1.3-10, Revelation 2.21-23), in some instances. Repayment also may admit of degrees of unpleasantness (Luke 12.47-48), in some instances. And rewards may amount to far less than what some might imagine in the evil of their hearts, as in Matthew 6.1-6:

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
On the other hand, those to whom God has granted repentance and who obey his commandments can focus on truths which are far more upbeat, like those of Proverbs 19.17, Proverbs 25.21-22, Matthew 5.11-12, Luke 6.34-35, Luke 14.12-14, Ephesians 6.8, Colossians 3.24, Hebrews 10.35. After all, those who have been saved by God also act in a manner which reflects gratitude for this salvation, right?

1 comment:

D.B. said...

I would consider the saying almost like a proverb, kind of a truism. Not always true, but many times.

I wonder about how, as society, moves away from a Judeo-Christian perspective that we may see more instances of perverted justice, good things happening to bad people, bad happening to good (in the general sense of the word, 'good' vs. the question of "who is really good")

On the other hand, it seems that part of the appeal of the justice of God is that some folks do get what they deserve in the end; and that it is only by his grace that I don't also get what I deserve.

These observations may be slightly off topic, but the post got me thinking about that.

Thanks for your insights, Kwame.