Everyone has heard the phrase “you reap what you sow” but how many people know that the phrase actually originates in the Bible?
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked ; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8
The secular use of this phrase is pretty clear. If you do good things, good things will happen to you. If you do bad things, you’ll get your comeuppance (usually in a dramatic and even comedic way if Hollywood is to be believed). It is the theory of karma basically. But that’s not exactly what the Bible is saying.
Paul just got finished (in Galatians 5) comparing and contrasting the deeds of the flesh (sinful desires) vs. the fruits of the Spirit (natural outpouring of goodness that comes from following God). He’s just emphasizing that point here. Plant (or sow) a seed of sin, and that sin will grow and spread like a weed, choking out the good and useful things in your life. Plant a mustard seed of Faith, and see how the Holy Spirit can take that Faith to move mountains and bless you and your friends and family for generations.
The difference between this message and karma is that it isn’t “doing good” that prompts the blessing you’ll receive. You may do good as a result of your Faith in the Lord, but that isn’t what earns you salvation or the blessings that come with it. You make your desire to serve the Lord and follow Him wherever He will lead. That’s your task (and with our sinful hearts, sometimes that’s a harder task than it sounds). From there, God will guide you the rest of the way. Therefore, He is the one that deserves the glory.
Karma seems to be a scorecard view. Do enough good things and you’ll be ok. God rips up the scorecard and says “I’m all you need. Just believe.”