Thursday, August 29, 2013

All Things Work Together for Good . . .

Romans 8:28.
Many of us have it memorized without knowing what verse of what chapter of what book it's in.
"Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose;"
That's the CJB translation. That verse doesn't apply to everyone, obviously. "Those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose."
This verse is speaking specifically to the "called" to God. Some have a natural tendency towards faith, and what a blessing that must be.

But let's look at the two promises in this.
"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good . . ."
That is only one statement, but two things are actually being promised here.
First, we have things working out for the good of God's people. This seems a joyous promise -and oh, how it is!- but we must look at what good is when it comes to humanity. Good is the fruit of the Spirit. Good is loving, good is humility, good is being gentle, good is having hope, good is . . . Good is such matters.
Now look at some other verses for the second promise of this.

Romans 5:3-5;
"But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope; and this hope does not let us down, because God’s love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) who has been given to us."

2 Corinthians 12:7;
"Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited."

1 Corinthians 13:4-7;
"Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.
Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures."

Now, look at those verses. These are how we gain hope, humility, and love (for many years, I did not know that 1 Corinthians 13 was a poem), respectively.

1) Hope; through tribulation, trouble, suffering, pain, misery . . . Despair! The very antonym of hope is the means by which we achieve it. We must suffer to gain hope.
We must suffer to achieve this good--and not by our own means, but by the Holy Spirit. Not only are we to accept our trials, but we're to delight in them because they will be used by God for our good.

2) Humility; through a thorn in the flesh, through a messenger of Satan himself. It was likely a constant reminder of his past (it could be anything, but i perceive it to be a memory, possibly of a Christian he'd killed "in the name of God." But that's just my imagination). It was this very thing, this demon, this tormentor, this thing "pound[ing] away" at him that kept him humble.
Humility achieved through, again, suffering. God used this suffering for good.

3) Love; we often think of this passage as being all kind and sweet and soft and mellow . . . But it should be applied to us.
Someone getting on your nerves and not leaving you alone? Be patient (or, literally, long-suffering; suffer endlessly through what you're being put through; that is love).
Return evil with kindness. Don't be jealous that someone who has wronged you is being promoted over you--be happy for them. Don't boast that you have this certain skill, or you have achieved something great. Don't build yourself up in the eyes of others, but elevate them. If someone insults you, hold your tongue; don't be rude, but rather, again, kind.
So on and so forth.
This isn't so easy when it's seen as an application for your own life. Are you living in love?
Do you forgive completely, keeping no record of wrongs (not seven times, but seventy times seven; that's how often we're to forgive a person in a single day--losing track of their sins against us probably around the fourth or fifth)? Do you always bear up, though you have little encouragement to offer? Are you always trusting, to the point of naivete? Do you always have a hopeful perspective to a situation, confident that God is in control, even to the loss of a loved one? Do you persevere, enduring to the end, despite being in a sea where the end is a horizon that is retreating at the exact same pace in which you pursue it?
That is what good is. It's self-sacrifice. It's loss of self for the benefit of others. Our love is good, because it is selfless.

Now, let's look again at Romans 8:28; "Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose;"
See the second promise in this? God is promising we will be tested, we will be stressed, we will suffer, we will know despair and pain and torment.
But the first promise, the obvious one, says that He will work it together for our good, if we wait it out. If we trust. If we hope. If we endure.

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