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.
Romans 8:28

There are some verses that are often quoted that can provide great encouragement to Christians. This would be one of those verses. In a world that has been so sin-impacted, life can be very complicated. It brings comfort, peace and joy to know that God causes all things to work together for good.

It does seem that many focus on the words “God causes all things to work together for good” without giving sufficient thought to the context of these words. Paul has been talking about this sin-cursed world and the Holy Spirit’s role in interceding for God’s children. Now He offers special encouragement to those who love God. Don’t pass over those words too quickly. It is easy to say that we love God, but does our life demonstrate that this is a reality? What does it look like to love God? If others evaluated my life, would they easily conclude that I love God?

This promise is for those who love God and “to those who are called according to His purpose.” This is a critical element regarding how things work together for good. It is the fulfillment of God’s purposes. It is easy to look at this verse with the hope that God will fulfill our purposes. It is so important to remember that this life is no longer about us. It is about God and His glory. We are often taught in Scripture that we are actually to die to self and live to Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Galatians 2:20

In the next verse in Romans 8 we are given further details on what it means that “God causes all things to work together for good.”

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…
Romans 8:29

This verse makes it clear that the good that God accomplishes has to do with us being conformed to the image of His Son. This is exactly what those who love God want. It is not an easy life with few, if any, problems. No! It is to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. We understand that this process can be very difficult and even painful. Nonetheless, this is what we live for.

Reflect on these words from Paul:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:8–10

Paul did not hesitate to talk about his personal suffering. But it was in the context of ministry. Paul was willing to endure any amount of suffering for the cause of the gospel. He understood that suffering is part of identifying with Christ and is necessary if we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

When you consider how all things work together for good to those who love God, don’t think primarily about improved circumstances. Think about God’s transforming work in your life that makes you more like Christ because of the circumstances.

 

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