Wednesday: 30 October, 2013 –– 30th Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 8: 26–30
All Things Work For Good
All things work for good. That is one of the more popular biblical verses that people quote, although I wouldn’t be surprised if many think it comes from Poor Richard’s Almanac or some such source. Whether or not the true source is known, what is usually quoted is not by itself true.
“Things” are not animate so that they are able to “work for good.” And in no way are all things good––there are horrible and evil events and circumstances. What is St Paul saying?
First, a better translation of the verse would be, In all things God works for good.... The focus here is on God, not on our circumstances. Second, it is crucial to recognize the qualifiers. For whom does God work in all things for good? It is in the lives of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
What is God’s purpose? It is not what is idolized and pursued by our culture. We live in a society in which the ultimate concern is being happy. God’s purpose for us is to be holy––conformed to the image of his Son....
How can we hope that in our lives all things work for good? We need to love God, and we love God by loving what God loves and desires. The fullness of God is shown to us in Jesus Christ. When we truly want to be like Jesus, then God does indeed make all things work for good.
A great picture of this is shown in the life of the Old Testament Joseph. His brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. After long and terrible years in Egypt, Joseph was eventually elevated to a position second only to Pharaoh. It was then that Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt seeking relief from famine, and Joseph was in charge of all the food. When the brothers realized who Joseph was, they were afraid. Then Joseph modeled what it means to love God and to know this makes all things work for good. He told his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God used it for good.”
Yes, St Paul invites us to know that all things work for good. But even more he wants us to know that this hope is for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Is the desire of our heart to be happy.... or to be holy? It is when we want to be holy that all things work for good.