What's the Difference?

 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. - Ecclesiastes 11:1

I've recently become aware of two different songs based on Ecclesiastes 11:1 concerning casting our bread upon the water.  One of the songs reminds me of the Biblical principle of sowing and reaping while the other hints of karma.  For this reason, the first song is a blessing to me while the other always makes me uneasy.  But as I struggled to pinpoint the source of my uneasiness, I found myself wondering, Exactly what is the difference between karma and the principle of sowing and reaping?  So, I've studied it out and would like to share my findings with you.

First off, let's define karma.  According to Dictionary.com, karma is "action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in reincarnation". According to Buddha,"whatsoever fortune or misfortune experienced is all due to some previous action". So my question is where is God during all of this?  Does He or does He not control the universe and everything contained within?  If everything in our lives is based on previous actions, then we are in control of our own lives and destinies, not God.  And that, my friend, is not Biblical.  Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives because it's His will, nothing more.  It's not a reward for good we've done or a punishment for wrongs.  Yes, sometimes God does offer rewards and punishments, but sometimes it's just part of His plan and has nothing to do with our past circumstances or decisions.

In contrast, the teaching of sowing and reaping (or casting our bread upon the water) simply says that God rewards faithful workers and givers.  If we give our tithe, God will ensure we don't lack for anything.  If we give to the poor, He will reward us accordingly.  If we work, we'll get paid, perhaps not in money, but in other ways.  God does reward the generous and the diligent.  It's in the Bible, over and over again.  Remember the widow of Zarephath who fed the prophet Elijah with the last of her food only to discover she had just enough each time she went back to the barrel.  She gave, and her generosity was rewarded.

My husband and I recently experienced this firsthand.  We were attending a Southern Gospel concert in Tennessee over the Christmas holidays.  It was a fabulous concert with The Booth Brothers and Greater Vision, my two favorite groups.  We had two friends at church who really wanted to attend but one had a prior obligation and the other simply didn't have the money to go.  On our way to the concert, I shared with Jason, "I want to get a CD for each of them."  I knew money was tight.  I knew we really didn't have it to give.  But I also knew in my heart that it was something the Lord wanted me to do, and I couldn't wait to see the look on the ladies' faces when I handed them the CD's.  I knew it would be a blessing to them, so I followed the Lord's leading.

It was worth it to see their joy!  But the reward didn't end there.  The next week was extremely cold, and Jason pulled out his heavy coat that he hadn't worn since last winter.  We were carrying on a conversation when he begin patting his chest pocket.  His forehead creased as he struggled to unbutton the flap on the pocket.  "What is that?" he asked.  I shrugged and waited for him to pull out the offensive item, assuming it was probably a receipt or something like that.  My eyes widened as he pulled out a piece of money.  I recognized it right away, but until he unfolded it, I could only guess how much.  It was a $20 bill.  Twenty dollars--the exact amount we paid for the two extra CD's.  Because we followed the Lord's leadership, we got to be a blessing and to be blessed by seeing the joy on the faces of friends, plus we got the $20 back.  We sowed, and we reaped.  God's so good!

One last difference I would like to point out is motive.  Motive plays an important part in sowing and reaping versus karma.  Those who believe in karma do good deeds for the sole purpose of reaping reward.  Their motive is impure and selfish.  Those who follow the Biblical principle of casting their bread upon the water follow a different procedure.  They do good because it's right.  They do for others because they long to be a blessing.  They give to give, not to get.  There's a big difference!

Well, I hope I've done an adequate job in describing the difference between sowing and reaping and karma.  Do you have thoughts or opinions on the topic?  I'd love to hear from you.