Does God work all things for good?

Absolutely yes. But it might not be in the way you think. He will NOT work all things so that it fits your definition of “good”, but He WILL work all things according to His definition of “good”.

What is His definition of “good”?

First, let me say that this verse (like many others) have been too often taken out of its context and interpreted. As a result of this practice, this verse has been turned into a “blank cheque” for Christians to do as they deem right and leave it to God, as if He was bound by the words in this verse, to work it out for good.

Christians have this “romantic” notion that God can use even our mistakes and make something good out of it. While this may be true, it should be the exception rather than the rule. God has no desire for us to keep making mistakes. He’d rather that we learn from them and become wiser as we go along.

Such a doctrine – that God will work things out no matter what we do – will only produce lazy, complacent and presumptuous Christians. Christians who will not seek the will and ways of God so that they can do it right. God does not exist to clean up after us.

Now that I’ve got this off my chest, I can tell you what this verse really means.

Looking at its context, we find Paul talking about “the will of God”. He says that when we do not know how to pray (because we are unclear about the will of God), the Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf “with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26 ESV). And because the “Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (verse 27), God will answer and His Will will be done in our lives.

And what is God’s will for us?

Well, God’s Will is multi-faceted, as you know. In this context, we learn that one facet of God’s Will of us, those whom He foreknew, is that we might be “conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (verse 29).

It is within this context that the verse we are discussing is found. So the “good” that God is bound to work towards is His Will for us.

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