The name of my blog today was the name of a TV show way back in the 1950’s. I actually don’t remember this show but saw clips of it later on. Really! TV dads were depicted in a very different way back in the 1950”s and early 1960’s than they are depicted today. They were depicted as benevolent, wise and all-knowing figures. One example is Ward Cleaver from one of my favorite shows growing up “Leave it to Beaver”. He seemed to have the right answer to whatever problem the “Beav” would create and was always able to come with a happy ending in just a half hour. We’ve been talking the last few blogs about Paul’s incredible promise verse in the 8th chapter of Romans where he writes, “and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (v.28 NASB). This is an amazing promise but it is not an unconditional promise. By that I mean this is not a guaranteed verse for everyone who’s going through a difficult trial or time. Today I’d like us to consider the two-fold conditions of this promise.
First, Paul tells us that this promise is for “those who love God”. God seeks first not the work of our hands, but the love of our hearts. Remember when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, His response was “that we should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, and soul”. Interestingly the word for love in this passage is the Greek word agapaō. That word refers to an unselfish, outgoing affection or tenderness without necessarily expecting anything in return. It is seeking a person’s highest good on the basis of a decision of the will and an inclination of the heart. It’s the same kind of love husbands are commanded to have for our wives when Paul writes “Husbands agapao your wives as Christ agapaō the church”. We are not to love God because of the things He gives us. We should love God because He is our creator, sustainer and redeemer. This love must dominate our sense of values and priorities in our lives. So the first condition for this promise of God working all things together for good is our love for God. Can I ask you, does your life reflect a love for God?
The second condition of finding fulfillment of this promise in our lives is we must be “called according to His purpose”. A love for God is one of the sure signs that we have actually been called by God. When God called me out of my previous lifestyle of darkness and sin He called me into a relationship of light and love. The center of God’s purpose is the ultimate assurance on which our salvation rests. Later in the 8th this chapter Paul’s going to raise the question “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (v. 35a, NASB). The answer of course is nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus. If we are called according to God’s purpose nothing can rescind that calling. We don’t need to look back very far in our own personal histories to see that what we thought was a disaster worked out for our good and God’s glory. I can even see God obviously working for my good in my employment history before I knew Him. But He already had a “calling” on my life. He calls us, He doesn’t compel or manipulate us like puppets. Rather He invites us to follow His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He will work in us drawing us to Himself for sure yet without violating our free will.
Have you discovered this verse to be true in your life? He will not forsake us for He is working in our disasters, failures and sins to bring us into conformity to His Son the Lord Jesus. Remember our Father knows best. Do you love Him today because He first loved you?
Pastor Rich Sivo