Sowing and reaping – karma vs the gospel

Should you – like I – have a background in the faith movement, you must have heard of the so called “spiritual principle of sowing and reaping”. Although I don’t agree with everything that has been taught, most people agree that what goes around comes around. What we sow we will, one way or another, eventually reap. How we live and what we prioritize lead to consequences – not only in this life, but also in the one to come.

The principle about sowing and reaping is a universal rule that can be applied to many, if not all, aspects of human life. More or less all cultures and religions agree that our actions have consequences. In some circles, this is called “karma”.

Paul says in Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)

Paul clearly says that we will reap what we sow – and most likely he would agree that this principle is a form of spiritual “common sense”, still valid today.

But note that sowing to the “flesh” in Galatians refers to when we trust in our own ability to live righteously before God through our own will-power, while “sowing to the Spirit” refers to when we only trust in God’s grace as basis for our right standing with God.

Thus, what Paul actually says is that if we trust ourselves and our own righteousness (sowing to the flesh), we will reap corruption, while if we trust in Jesus alone (sowing to the Spirit) we will reap everlasting life!

Although our actions still lead to consequences even in the new covenant, the essence of the gospel is totally different from karma. Here comes the principle of sowing and reaping from a gospel, and new covenant, perspective:

Jesus reaped what we had sown. 

At the cross, He absorbed the consequences of all mankind’s sin and carried our sicknesses and shame. He was even made a curse on our behalf.

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree)’”. (Gal. 3:13)

In other words: Jesus received what we had deserved. 

But that’s not the whole story. We reaped what Jesus had sown.

This is normally called the “great exchange”. Jesus, who was without sin, became sin on our behalf so that we in Him might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus gave us His own righteousness!

Not only that; by His wounds we have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24). In Him we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heaven (Eph. 1:3). In Him we have health, eternal life, joy, peace, provision, fellowship with God, a purpose with our lives; yes everything we will ever need!

Simply put: We received what Jesus had deserved.

Paul says in Romans, ”He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). We who believe in Jesus freely get all things together with Him! It’s because of this Paul also says that “all the promises of God have become yes and amen through Christ” (1 Cor. 1:20).

This gives hope to all, including you, no matter what your background or past history is. Maybe you feel as if you have wasted most of your life. The gospel sets us free from karma, puts a ring of sonship on our hands, and positions us so that all what the Father has belong to us (see Lk. 15:11-32).

With Jesus you can get a fresh start.


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