We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
How do we know that God works “for the good” of Christians “in all things”? Wouldn’t “all things” include not only the good and beautiful but also the evil and ugly things in today’s world? How can disasters, sicknesses and sorrows, along with the evils done to Christians, plus the sins done by Christians, be turned around to bring a beneficial outcome?
God cannot mean that “all things” are pleasing to him or according to his will. The holy God of the Bible is never the source of evil, nor is evil his will. He said plainly, “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
Yet, holy God endured the sin of Adam and Eve, and has permitted sinful mankind to think, say and do evil throughout history. Judgment Day is coming, but clearly, God does not force anyone to trust in him and love him. Rather, he graciously offers forgiveness. Sinners are “called” to repentance and faith in Jesus, the Savior. The Holy Spirit creates that saving faith by the good news of the Gospel. The consequences of sin, which we may suffer, become opportunities for those called “according to his purpose” to mature in faith. At times, God does permit, even sends, circumstances that discipline his children. (Hebrews 12:1-13)
Beyond that, the apostle Paul concludes: “How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33) God declared through the prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways … As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Ultimately, then, we know that our gracious Lord makes all things serve a beneficial purpose, only because we know him and his promises. Paul asks: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
God gives you the best, eternal life through Jesus, so he will give you the rest of whatever you need to make it through this life. Though often not an easy road, God makes “all things” somehow beneficial. You know that because you know him!
Prayer: Loving Lord, even when it hurts I know that you will make it beneficial. Amen.
[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. – 2 Timothy 1:9
What tasks do you have before you today? This weekend? This year? Whatever they are, you get into trouble (as do I) when you forget the place of God’s grace.
God’s grace is not a response to my life; my life is a response to God’s grace. When I forget that, I – sometimes blatantly, sometimes subtly – view the tasks before me as a way to earn God’s favor. I think, “Surely my attendance must count for something. Certainly God must take into account all the hours I have invested. Indeed, I am in a better place than those who do not participate as much as I participate, or offer as much as I offer, or work as hard as I work.”
When I remember, however, that apart from God’s grace all my righteous acts are like filthy rags, this self-righteous approach leaves me with nothing – at least nothing worth having. So I must remember the place of God’s grace.
My life does not prompt God’s grace; God’s grace empowers my life. When I forget that, I can begin to look at the tasks before me with fear and trembling, sometimes even shame. I say, “I’ve never done this before. How am I going to be able to do that? Aren’t there others better qualified or more experienced? What if she criticizes me? What if he ignores me? What if someone mocks me?”
In the tasks you face today, this weekend, or this year, remember the place of God’s grace. God’s grace is not a response to your life; your life is a response to God’s grace. He has saved you and called you to a holy life – not because of anything you have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given you in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
Remembering the place of God’s grace cuts off the inclination toward sinful, self-righteous claims and feeble attempts at false humility. In this grace you find forgiveness for haughty sentiments as well as the feigned humility which is nothing more than a fragile shell covering the corruption lying beneath the surface. With this grace you are empowered to respond with words and actions that glorify God and serve those around you.
That’s a good place to be.
Prayer: Lord God, by grace you have made me your own and prepared me for the tasks ahead. Your Spirit gives me power, courage, and the self-discipline to do what you have for me to do. Enable me, therefore, to go confidently and speak boldly, in Christ Jesus. Amen.