Many of us have one or more scriptures which we consider our favourite. One of the most popular ones among believers is Romans chapter 8, verse 28. Many quote this scripture during unfavourable times to encourage themselves that despite the negative experiences, God will cause things to work in their favour in the end. While this is the real essence of the scripture, I have found that in most cases, it is misapplied - predominantly due to a common practice among believers and that is, the incomplete quoting or reading of scriptures.
Romans chapter 8 verse 28 says “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” - yet in most cases, only the fraction of the verse which says “God works all things together for good” is used without considering the context that is provided in the remainder of the verse. When we partially read or quote scriptures, we run the risk of misinterpretation and misapplication. On its own, the statement that “God works all things together for good” gives the idea that God does this in all cases, however, through reading the entire scripture we will see this is in no way true. The omitted section states specifically who this statement applies to, which is “those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. And according to Jesus in John chapter 14 verse 21, those who love Him are those who “...has my commands and keeps them...” Therefore, to claim the insurance of Romans chapter 8 verse 28, one would first have to meet the requirement of John chapter 14 verse 21.
Now with that out of the way, we can all agree that it is comforting to know that even when we mess up, God will “work all things for our good”. This insurance is beneficial to us in many ways when properly applied but can also be dangerous when abused. And how can it be abused you ask? When we believe it absolves us of the responsibility of living responsibly and more importantly knowing and living according to the will of God.
Many believers are of the notion that living in God's will means making our plans and asking the Lord to bless them. If our plans succeed then it means they were in God’s will and if they fail, then we need not worry, God will work it back into His will per Romans chapter 8 verse 28. How many of us can actually say we don’t operate like this, but instead, we take the approach to first seek God’s will and then allow His will to guide our plans? I am guessing not many.
Paul encourages us in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 15-17 to understand what the will of God is, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Here Paul highlights that it’s through the knowledge of God’s will that we are able to live wisely. Jesus also demonstrated His knowledge of the will of God and how it influenced His life decisions in John chapter 6 verse 38 “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” and John chapter 2, verse 4 "Woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My hour has not yet come".
When the will of God does not inform our lives, we run the risk of getting into situations which God may not have intended for us. The typical result of this is our exposure to unnecessary harm and hardships. Sure, in His faithfulness God will ensure that we come out of these situations wiser and stronger; but, when we consistently operate in this manner, we relegate God's role in our lives to damage control rather than to lead us into His wonderful promises.
A great example of this is the story of Abraham and Hagar. In Genesis 16, verses 1 - 5, we see repercussions of Sarai’s unwillingness to wait on God’s will. In this story, Sarai decided to allow her servant Hagar to marry and bear a child for her husband Abraham. The result was that Sarai suffered because her servant began to despise her the moment, she knew she was pregnant.
“...When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me” (Genesis chapter 16, verses 4 - 5).
In the end, God delivered on His promise and Sarai, now Sarah, conceived and bore a son for her husband, however, instead of enjoying this blessing in peace, she now had an Ishmael and a Hagar to contend with for the rest of her life.
How many times have we suffered through battles that we didn’t have to fight because we did not consult the will of God, or like Sarai we didn’t wait? How many promises have we forfeited because we kept God doing damage control rather than leading us into His promises? Yet, in His faithfulness, the insurance of Romans chapter 8 verse 28 still stands even as He continues to beckon us higher, towards the more excellent way, of seeking, knowing, and living according to His will.
Kerron P. Young is a Kingdom Empowerment Ambassador, who is passionate about seeing individuals find and walk in their God-ordained purpose. She is a mentor, singer and songwriter, an aspiring book writer, praise and worship leader at her local church and founder of Empowered for Purpose Jamaica an organisation dedicated to empowering youths to pursue their God-ordained purpose.