There is a popular saying in Christian circles that goes “God is good all the time.” This is certainly true. Scripture is full of references to God’s goodness. It is not in His nature to be not good. We may think of ourselves as good people but, if you’re like me (and I know you are) you aren’t always good. Romans 8:28 reads (NASB) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
I think sometimes we misapply this verse. I get the mental picture of something bad happening to me, to a loved one, or some cataclysmic event occurring. Something not good. Since God is good, he couldn’t have caused it so the thought may occur to us that God was caught by surprise at this event. And He is now in heaven, scrambling to make it good. I don’t think that’s it at all. I certainly don’t have all the answers to this conundrum, but I have some thoughts.
What is the “good” that is referred to in this passage? It is not a comfortable life, a nice house, a lack of health issues, a perfect family. There is nothing wrong with any of these, but I submit that the good referred to here is God working in us to make us more like Jesus. That is our goal. That’s why we are here on earth, to bring glory to God. I am not here to be a good husband, a good father, a good professor, not even a good church member. I am here to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. When that happens, that is good.
This verse does not have universal application. God works things together for good to “those who love God.” How do we express love? On a human level, if we love someone we want to do good things for them. We want to please them. We want to spend time with them. We want them to be a part of our lives. If a person says he or she loves God but doesn’t spend time in His word, doesn’t talk to him in prayer, doesn’t make God a part of everyday life then I question if that person loves God.
The final part of this verse further qualifies who this promise is for “to those who are called according to His purpose.” His purpose is for us to bring glory to God, to be more like Jesus. Our goal in life should be His purpose. What does that look like?
Philippians 3:20-21 reads “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” We are citizens of a nation, community, or a group, you will want to abide by the laws of the land. If you are a member of a group, you want to conform to the expectations of that group. As citizens of heaven we want to conform to the “expectations of heaven.” Our bodies will be transformed into conformity with the body of Christ by His power.
Job is an example of faithfulness to God. God did not cause Job’s troubles. Job’s friends urged him to “curse God and die.” Yet he remained faithful to God. God restored what was lost. But, on a human scale, all was not good. Yes, his family was restored, his wealth was restored. But he still carried the memory of those lost loved ones. But when Job was transformed into his heaven “God worked everything for good.”
How powerful is God? He is the God of the universe. His power is unlimited and unending. But He does not impose himself on us. We can choose to be one who loves God or we can reject Him. My goal is to work daily to be more like Christ. When I make that choice “all things work together for good for me.”
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