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Judgment and Karma in the Bible

by Joshua Tilghman on March 13, 2013

In God  s Hand by HeroinForMyHeroine 262x300 Judgment and Karma in the BibleI was reading a blog post about karma this morning by Katinka Hesselink (linked here). I like Katinka’s simple explanation of this largely misunderstood concept. Check out what she has to say below:  

Somehow the law of Karma has people in all sorts of mental knots sometimes, so I thought I’d start out with the basics:

  • When you help someone today, they will be helped. You will get the blessings later.
  • When you hurt someone today, they will hurt. You will get similar problems later.
  • When you avoid negative actions today (murder, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse) – that may be tough today, but you will feel better later.

I don’t know about you, but I find that explanation extremely helpful. It also made me pause long enough to consider the true motivations for a lot of my personal endeavors.

But why am I mentioning this today? I’ve wanted to do a post about karma and the Bible for a while now, and Katinka’s simple explanation inspired me to get started.

There’s no doubt that karma is taught in the Bible, although you won’t find the word “karma” anywhere in its pages. But you can find mention of the law of sowing and reaping. That’s basically the same thing.

“…God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

“As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8).

Simple enough, right? But I don’t want to focus on the terminology of sowing of reaping. I want to speak about judgment, because while it’s easy to connect karma with sowing and reaping, it isn’t so easy to understand how the essence of karma can also be found within the concept of Biblical judgment. The truth of the matter is that Biblical judgment, sowing and reaping, and karma all one in the same. And while judgment can sound scary, it’s shouldn’t be. We should actually learn to embrace it (more on why in a moment).

As humans we are all very familiar with judgment. If we’re honest with ourselves, I’m sure we could all remember a time we were judgmental. We could also remember being a victim of it as well. But how many of us have explored the many scriptures that elucidate a perspective on judgment that, when taken collectively, do not convey an outside source judging us for sins? In fact, it’s quite the opposite. God doesn’t judge. We do! Or at least we should. The scriptures make this plain.

We’ll begin with a statement from the Apostle Paul. Then we’ll explore other statements by Jesus on judgment and I’ll think you’ll be able to reconcile it with karma.

In 1 Corinthians 11:31 Paul states:

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

Before I subscribed to mysticism, I was surprised that Paul ever made such a statement.  Quite frankly, this doesn’t sound like Christian doctrine to me. Actually, it sounds more like something the Buddha or a Zen philosopher would say. Why? Because that statement puts all the responsibility on us. Notice how it doesn’t say, ‘If you believe on Jesus as Lord and savior, you should not be judged.” It simply implies that if we remain consciously aware of our own actions and their consequences, we can avoid judgment.

But what is this “judgment” Paul speaks of. I believe we can find out from the next verse.

 “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32).

Paul certainly isn’t referring to judgment after death, that final judgment that some Christians believe will take place to decide whether that soul will enter heaven or hell. He is specifically speaking of the here and now, in this life. That being the case, what does this judgment and chastisement look like? How is it applied?

Obviously this judgment is applied through the law of sowing and reaping (karma).

Jesus himself tells us this when he states:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:1-2).

If this isn’t karma, what is? Not only does Jesus say you’ll be judged if you judge, but you will receive proportionately that which you deal out.

Consider another point from Jesus:

 “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, hath one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47-48).

Jesus said it was the word that judges us. The Greek word used is logos. Logos is not doctrine. It is the divine expression, and it has everything to do with BEING itself. What you do to someone else will ultimately come back to you in some form or another because we are all connected through the web of the logos. We can even compare Jesus’ statement to the “Law of Attraction,” which proposes that whatever vibration of thoughts and feelings you put into the matrix of the universe shall be returned to you.

Many religious authorities would have us believe that an outside being will judge us for good or for evil. Personally I think this would defeat the entire purpose of growing up and maturing into loving beings. If we become consciously aware of our actions, taking full responsibility for our karma, we can truly begin to change the course of our lives. This is how we grow up spiritually. It’s also how we learn to truly love.

Ultimately, karma and judgment aren’t things to fear. They need to be embraced. This doesn’t mean that life will always be easy. In fact, it may hurt now. But as Katinka already told us, you will feel better later.

I remind you with Paul’s words once again:

“If we judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

Remember, this simply means to become consciously aware of your actions. If you do not, your own unconscious actions will judge you in the future. Isn’t it ironic? We aren’t judged by another being, but rather our own unconscious self!

Could life be anymore fair?

Blessings.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KT March 14, 2013 at 6:20 am

Concept of Karma is universal. In Bible God makes it clear that wicked will be punished and the righteous will be blessed. In New Testament Jesus takes a different approach when asked about the karma of the blind man ,he says “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
Karma is brutal, cold , it has no humanity. Grace nullifies karma.

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2 Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Thanks for your perspective, KT. I know many people share your view.

Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. For me, karma is fair and just for the person who is still controlled by it. For example, imagine a 12-year-old child who blows himself up as a suicide bomber. Also imagine that his parents and entire community brain-washed him his entire life that this was God’s will. He did it because he wanted to please god. What chance at grace did he have? How would God judge him fairly after death? Obviously he couldn’t. But the real point is that he never had the chance to accept Christ. I don’t see an omnipotent mind setting it up this way. As I observe nature, it doesn’t fit either.

But do know that I respect your stance, KT.

Now, about grace nullifying Karma. In a sense I agree. I believe through God’s grace one escapes karma. However, I don’t see grace coming from the blood sacrifice of God’s son. I see it through his teachings.

Blessings.

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3 KT March 14, 2013 at 6:28 am

Christians think Jesus died for our sins. This is based on Karmic concept, sin leaves a karma that needs to be paid, Jesus indirectly paid for it.

Well, it is your choice to believe that way. I think Jesus died because he was a rebel, who questioned the fundamental views of religion. Gospels are very clear in narrating the events that lead to crucifixion and I did not the Jesus proclaiming that he was taking our sins and killing himself.

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4 Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

The Jesus of the Gospels is definitely portrayed as a Rebel against religious authority.

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5 Suzy March 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

Josh, you’ve really illuminated something for me when you say that the idea is “to become consciously aware of your actions. If you do not, your own unconscious actions will judge you in the future. …We aren’t judged by another being, but rather our own unconscious self!” That’s exactly it, but I’ve never looked at it quite that way. Thank you. Once again, you highlight the internal journey.

I know that everything I judge in another comes from judgment of myself. I also know that at the end of my life, I will be my only judge of all I’ve acted out. But it will be an evaluation of how much more I want to grow with love.

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6 Joshua Tilghman March 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Good points Suzy. Blessings in your path to become more conscious.

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7 selina March 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Joshua,
Yes I totally agree with you that we judge ourselves on what we did and did not do and Like Suzy I believe at the end of our life time we judge our self as we are accountable for ourself and therefore be the only judge that there is.
Love and light Selina x

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8 Robert March 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I think see two different perspectives about judgement being expressed in these comments. One expression is based on a mathematics of doing good and evil, so that if I do something evil for which I should be judged according to some standard, I should either suffer consequences or the penalty should be paid by someone (a redeemer) to whom I then should become gratefully obliged to follow because that someone is God, the Master, and only God can forgive doing evil. There is no way else to deal with doing evil. And when I follow the Master I am now obliged to, I will learn more to do good. And if I slip, I have a coach who will chew me out for my good. This is a Master/follower thing. The other expression is based on awareness of self in a community, realizing that my actions positive or negative affect others and for some mystical reason the good and bad I do to others often comes back around to touch me the same way and it is valuable to teach me when I am touched because it makes me more aware of my connection to others, for good or bad. The one I hurt, I have now walked in his shoes and felt his hurt, so I don’t want to hurt anyone again. The one I have loved, I have felt the love of others and am glad the one I have loved feels loved like that. This is a connectedness thing. I think the Master/follower is an excellent way to progress at times, especially if you are really lost or need to learn some basics. But the best you can be is a good follower. And this is limiting, like being a good child. The connectedness thing is for people who have learned enough to be their own coach, and who view making mistakes as an opportunity to grow, even if there is some unpleasantness due to consequences. But evenso, If I lose my way again or become entirely overwhelmed, I’m going to need some coaching until I learn enough. I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell the Redeemer that he can retire just yet.

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9 Joshua Tilghman March 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Robert,

My message for your would be to trust at all times the redeemer is in you, a part of you. It is obvious from your comments that you are a sincere seeker. When the heart is in the right place, every path you take will yield invaluable learning experiences.

Based on your comments, you also have a healthy respect for the divine, which would keep you from using spiritual power in a way that would do you more harm than good. My two scents, anyway.

Blessings.

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10 Rhonda March 15, 2013 at 2:47 am

Hi Joshua,
I have observed that our actions/words interractons with other’s more often then not come from some form of judgement we make within ourselves. We are constantly subconsciously making judgements. If we live in a state of unawareness, we live reactively and when we do that we hurt and maime one another. The karmic element I understand in this is that when we live this way we actually hurt and maime ourselves, for our judgements on others and on percieved situations are more often then not made with ignorance and lack of understanding influenced by our own often very narrow view and the things we have been taught to believe. Judgements made from this perspective produce very negative vibrations in our own being…frustration, anger, pride, rejection, intolerance etc etc…these negative vibrations/feelings/thoughts literally produce dis-ease within ourselves ie the karma we are talking about.
When we begin to live with awareness, we can observe our inner thoughts/reactions and judge ourselves …is this thought/reaction a result of something within myself? something I’ve experienced? something I’ve been taught to believe? what is causing my reaction? is my reaction truth or a by product of forgotten unforgiven things…or perhaps my egoic self is affronted & do I really need this person situation to see things as I do?… do I really know the truth of this situation? do I really know this person’s inner heart? their situation? their turmoil?…what life experiences have they had that cause them to do this? what have they been taught?… etc
When we live with awareness in each moment we cease to be reactive and become responsive…responsible…we live from a place of truth and draw from an internal infinite resovoir of peace and love…the karmic result of which is…peace and love,patience, understanding accpetance humility valor etc
Namaste:-)
PS…no I havn’t written a book of poetry though I have been writing poetry since I was a child…but your suggestion has certainly got the cogs turning in the back of my mind:-)

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11 Joshua Tilghman March 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Thanks Rhonda, more great points. Blessings.

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12 Christine Hoeflich March 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Hi Joshua,

Another word for judgment that makes a lot of sense to me is “examined,” as in, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” If one examines one’s life now, one will be less judged later…

Thanks for another revealing post! Christine

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13 Laurie March 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Christine, I look at it that way as well. I too, have my own terms. I tend to look at JUDGEMENT to be The Ego judging one’s self or judging others. Discernment is something different, I don’t see the Ego attached to it. To discern what is going on in one’s own life and actions.

I like what Wayne Dyer says about Judgement. ““When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

This helps me “Discern” what is really going on, If I start “Judging” another person.

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14 motla68 March 19, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Good article, great comments. I can relate to what Laurie said about the reflection of ones self. As long as we are at it in the spirit of similarities i may have said this in another comment, but will say it again that Prayer is just a method of Meditation or same thing with different words.

Psalms 119:48 ” My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes. ”

Psalms 119:148 ” Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. ”

Some church people will deny it saying that prayer is different being a fully conscious event an that meditation is unconsciousnous, but as you can see their book tells differently. At that point i ask them if when they pray are they really doing it with all of themselves or hanging on a fence?

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15 Laurie March 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Motla68, Matthew Chapter 6 is great for this.

I now see it as doing something with the Ego and not doing it with your Ego.

It talks about repetitive prayers and worrying about THINGS. About everything this Chapter says to NOT do, is what most people in the Church DO today. lol

Its also has the Lords prayer in it. Jesus didn’t say “Pray this prayer” he said “Pray in this manner”. What does that mean? Look at what the Lords Prayer says. Pretty much, GET RID OF YOUR EGO. Stop worrying. Forgive. Let go of everything you Ego wants you to hold on to.

Prayer for me before was with my Ego Self (just as this Chapter talks about). Asking things From God. Begging. Talking alot. Reminding him…like he didn’t know. lol It’s funny Now. Now, I don’t really speak or talk. Sometimes I do, but mainly I just get quiet and meditate. Surrendering my Worries, thoughts…EGO and trusting him. After all, isn’t that what the “Lord’s prayer” is about? It’s trying to show us how to meditate. To let go of worries, anger, unforgiveness.

Jesus said to Pray in that manner. He didn’t say to pray/Say that prayer. In fact, he already said don’t do the repetitive prayer thing!! LOL

It’s a great chapter. Just read it again and it’s like part of the Veil lifted more.

It’s crazy how the Church is so scared of Meditation. Like you said…it’s right there in the Bible.

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16 KT March 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hello Josh: I re read you what you wrote and I see your point. As you know Karma appears to be “eastern” thought even though there are many verses in Bible indicate the concept. Hindus strongly believe in Karma and they claim it is very scientific. Science claims for every action there is a proportionate reaction. We can relate this in to our daily life and your explanation is valid one. The problem I see about this is the underestimation of undoing (forgiving) the Karmic debts we most of us do incur. Pure Karma as I mentioned is cold and takes away the human/ love element. Many Hindus carry the guilt when some thing bad happens and they feel it was their Karma, they find it hard that God does wonderful job of reconcilliation.

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17 motla68 March 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

If all of the monetization of money is based on debt, those who believe they are wealthier because they have a lot of money are actually the ones deepest in debt, they fall under major accounting liabilities. Real wealth is based upon equitable hodings rather then a fluctuating fiat currency. Usufruct rules, the bible and other religious texts are full of stories about this.

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18 jerry October 27, 2013 at 1:45 am

Nice post. My sense of karma is based more on the fact that we are spiritually interconnected through time. The nature of our interconnections persist because we are timeless beings who are exploring the nature of our conscious projections. Thus the transference or state of consciousness persists till it is cleared. The timeless nature of consciousness which binds us is neediness,from those who have,greed, they repetively share the consciousness of neediness.it is a timeless dynamic,that limits one and it can be cleared. In revelations it was referred to that this time would be like Babylon,Egypt and Rome rolled up into one. My sense of it was a reference to the attachment of consciousness which persists independtly through time,where individuals persist in the pursuit of power and domination based on the attachment to the consciousness that they are not receiving. Note the more things change the more they stay the same. We have become embroiled in an unconscious continuous state of self delusion by clinging to our collective unconsciousness. Our beliefs can not save us nor our intent. But like listening to an old repetitious radio station,note the metaphorical significance,one should forgive and switch the station. Take care.

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19 Joshua Tilghman October 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Jerry,

Very interesting comment. I had to go back and read it twice before what you were really saying sunk in. I agree with you when you say that neediness is part of our physical conscious projection. Many in esoteric circles call it “desire.”

You stated: “The nature of our interconnections persist because we are timeless beings who are exploring the nature of our conscious projections.Thus the transference or state of consciousness persists till it is cleared.”

When you say our state of consciousness has been cleared, would you equate that with the balancing out of our karma?

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20 anny October 28, 2013 at 8:21 am

Hi Joshua,

It suddenly dawned on me that in the final phase you could see the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil also as the Tree of Judgment, or rather Discernment as Laurie calls it.

In the first phase we are learning by eating all those fruits of this tree and digesting them by undergoing the consequences. Once we understand how it works we will then try to eat to eat only the ‘good’ fruits but does this lead to the balance we seek?

So the final phase I think is the phase of judgment or discernment and learning to see the good in the bad as well. We will learn from the consequences of our ‘bad’ deeds and as such finally judge them (these consequences and everything ‘bad’ that happens to us) to be Good because of the growth we also experienced when we started to look at it like that. Of course that also involves forgiveness, both toward others as toward ourselves.

Once we have learned to see Good in EVERYTHING and have totally stopped judging ourselves and others, that will mean that we have crucified all our emotions.

It will mean that we have eaten and digested even the bitterest fruit of the tree, the tamar – which is written as 400-mar and means the bitterness of the cross/slavery of Egypt – then you will discover that this is the seventh and final fruit of the tree and as such the completion of the process. Then you will also experience that however bad everything seemed to be, by eating and digesting it this fruit proved to be sweet after all. It was a date!

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