By Jay Jewell
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,”
Another oft misapplied verse in the Bible is Romans 8:28a. It is misapplied, first of all, because people often stop reading it with the phrase “for the good of those who love Him.” If people would take the time to look at the whole verse, they would find that it actually says, “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.” Many people use the first part of this verse to say that God will always do what is best for me because I love Him. But looking at the whole verse shows the good things come when we are called and fulfilling the purpose God has called us to.
And the verse needs to be looked at in the context in which Paul places it. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 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.” (8:26-28)
Notice that the words “according to/accordance with” is used twice here. According to God’s will and God’s purpose. Not what we think God should give us, but God will do for us for our own good. Paul admits that we are weak, yet God uses that weakness to fulfill His purpose. Which isn’t necessarily to make me happy, but to make me into the person He wants me to be. Paul suffered many things in his life (as Jesus told Ananias about Paul in Acts 9). Not the kind of things we would desire for ourselves; shipwreck, stoning which resulted in his being left for dead, persecution from people inside and outside the church, snake bites, a thorn in his flesh. God is concerned about us becoming the people He wants us to be in order to fulfill His will and purpose in the world He has created.
Now it may be that God wants us to be prosperous, but only if we will use it for His purpose. He may want us to be popular, but only if we will use that for His glory. He might give us power, but not to gratify our selfish desires. This verse is not about what I think is good for me, but what God thinks is good for me. And always, always in His will and for His purpose.