In case you weren’t aware, I recently took some time away to dig deep into the 10 most popular Bible verses [and you can grab your free copy of the 10-day devotional book birthed from that time here]. During my study, there were a number of things that struck me I would never have uncovered if I didn’t look at the context of these verses packaged together. For instance, as I dug into the circumstances the authors were in as they wrote each verse, it was shocking how many of them were written during times of intense suffering. It is because of insights like this that I love digging deeper into groups of passages and, this time, there was something in-particular I wanted to share with you: do we really understand what God means when He says ‘good’?
Let me explain for a moment. Undoubtedly, when one studies the most popular verses in the Bible, there is bound to be a fairly common theme: comfort. In fact, almost every popular verse, when standing on its own, can be used as some kind of encouragement or inspiration. It is the very reason the verses are quoted so often. As we go through the ups and downs of life, we lean on God’s Word to help us through – as we should. Here is what caught me though… so many times in these, and other Scriptures, we read that God is looking out for our ‘good’ or future ‘good.’ For instance,
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
While I won’t get into what is really being said in these verses (because that is the purpose of the devotional), we need to realize a higher level issue we often misunderstand about the plans referenced in Jeremiah, how God works for the good of those who love Him in Romans, and the many other scriptures with similar overtures. You see, when we read these at face-value, I find that we often like to read popular verses as though God is going to work out our problems to produce the solution we want. It’s a simple A + B = C scenario. I want A, God will do good for me B, so I get what I want C. Here is the problem though, do you and I define ‘good’ the same way the God does? I would argue that many of us don’t. But, that doesn’t mean all is lost.
You see, if we start to imagine, for just a moment, what God might mean by ‘good,’ we have to consider what His priorities must be and how that aligns with His definition of the word. If we do, His first priority certainly must be that ‘good’ is accomplished throughout His eternal plan of redemption for mankind. And, secondly, there is no question that God wants to see ‘good’ done as it pertains to each individual person’s salvation and our overall spiritual life. If we stop there for a moment to reflect on those two priorities, I think there is a good argument to be made that the good referenced in these types of verses is in relationship to our spiritual good, not necessarily always the physical/earthly good.
Does that mean God doesn’t care about our day-to-day? I know and believe he does. The important thing we must realize though is what comes first to God and ultimately should come first to all of us. Realistically, if we all sat back and thought about it, would we want those priorities to be in any other order? Would you want God to do ‘good’ accordingly to your physical needs, if it meant harm to your eternal life, or the eternal life of all? Hear me… I am not saying that God stops us from making mistakes that can damage these first two priorities. We are great at butting in and making a mess of things; but the point I am trying to make is that when we read popular verses, my hope is that we stop reading them for what God might grant us and instead we understand the magnitude of what it means for God to work out all things for the good of our eternal lives with Him. When we reflect on the magnificence of this, it might, just might, make the problems we want to solve just a little smaller and, in the process, allow for each of us to find true rest from our troubles and delight in the reality of who God is and what He wants for each and every one of us.
I pray you’ll take some time today to reflect on the fact that God really is working out all things for our good. And, even if that good isn’t always what we might define as good in this moment, it is far greatdf and has the most profound impact on eternity – not just what is troubling us this hour of this day.
Leave a comment and let me know how this truth shapes your life and relationship with Him.
Until next time.