By: Mike Nipper
And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plan. – Romans 8:28 TLB
One of my favorite versus of the Bible is the oft-quoted Romans 8:28. When I first started doing Bible study, I was somewhat confused the phrase “called according to his purposes”, but I like the wording in The Living Bible version. I would like to share my thoughts on key words in this verse.
Know – We can be certain of everything God has revealed to us, through a variety of means (as John Wesley taught) – Holy Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. When we are truly seeking God’s will on a topic in our lives, at some point we normally receive the answer, which is accompanied by a sense of peace that assures us it is from God. Often the answer is to wait, and sometimes the answer we want may never be revealed to us in this life for our own good.
All – This is a mighty inclusive term when we think of all of creation, from the infinite universe to the sub microscopic world. God is the author of everything. It is fascinating to me to witness the exponential growth of scientific knowledge, yet the more we learn, the more we are aware of how much more there is to be discovered. It is far beyond my comprehension to think of all the interactions that are affecting me. This is kinda scary until we are reminded that God loves us without limit, He is sovereign in this amazing, complex world, and He is the Master of minute detail as well as the big picture.
Working – This tense of the word implies that most things are a continuing process, not just an event, and reminds me of the expressions that “we are all a work in process” and “God is not through with me yet.”
Our good – Inclusion of word “our” makes it very personal. God knows, loves, and wants to be intimately involved in the life of each individual in this world. We may be content with good enough, or even the better, but God always wants the very best for each of us. Often “best” is beyond the scope of reason or our limited imagination, and we need to be receptive to daily miracles.
If – This little conditional word significantly impacts the meaning of the verse. We are taught that God’s grace is infinite and unconditional, yet we see that our participation is required to some degree. I think this means that God does not want us to be lazy, demanding, and ungrateful regarding His blessings. And we know that we are blessed to be a blessing to others, to be a conduit of God’s grace to others. This part of the verse implies we must follow the two great commandments (love God and love others) to fully enjoy the abundant life He wants for us.
Fitting into his plans – Again the tense implies an on-going process of being integrated into God’s will. Even though we have been given free will, I am learning that God wants me to humbly yield my will to Him, to empty myself and make room for Him. I am also learning that His plans are more detailed and personally tailored than simple general purpose direction. We are constantly challenged to strengthen our relation with God so that we can better comprehend and follow His will.
Prayer: Almighty and loving God, help me to have the inspiration, conviction, and persistence to know and fit into Your plans for me.