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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God Working for Our Good?

One of the most popular Bible verses people (Christians and non-Christians) quote is Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV). Perhaps the most popular way to quote this verse is in a truncated form: "In all things God works for our good." The reason why this verse is thrown out so much is pretty obvious - who wouldn't want to have a sugary sweet reminder that the creator of the universe is constantly working for our good!? But that's not what the verse says - Romans 8:28 doesn't say, against what's popularly quoted, that God will give us magical experiences and spiritual warm fuzzies all the time, working those things for our good, so in turn we should love him. No! Instead, this verse says that God will work all things (not just the good things, but probably some pretty bad & ugly things) for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. The last part of the verse, the condition, is what's so often left out of graduation gifts and Christian tote bags. People don't want to believe that there's a stipulation to this seemingly magical good-working.

In my experience, this verse has been the most applicable to some pretty bleak situations, not sunshiney, mountain top experiences. God has used the worst, most painful situations in my life for good, shaping and molding me along the way (although, while I was in the midst of these situations I would've never expected them to actually be used for good).

I realize my interpretation of this verse is rather depressing - for people who love God and are devoted to him, he uses the worst things in their life for good in his time. However, anyone can make good things yield good things. The concept of turning horribly bad things into beautiful things intuitively doesn't make sense - proving its something that only God could do since he is all-powerful and ever-present.

So rather than flippantly quoting this verse (or any scripture really), keep in mind the full context surrounding the verse. Romans 8:28 is a beautiful verse to quote because, for people who love the Lord, it shows that God can use any thing or any circumstance for good - which gives great hope!

1 comment:

  1. This is something I've been thinking about this past year a lot. The greatest good is that we are sanctified and made holy and cleansed from sin. Our definition of goodness is self-centered, true goodness is God-centered.