And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
I. THE BELIEVER'S CHARACTER.
1. Love to God is his grand distinctive feature. The creeds of Christians may differ in minor shades, their ecclesiastical relations may vary — yet in this one particular there is an essential unity. They love one God and Father; and this truth — like those sundered rays of light returning to the sun, approximate to each other — forms the great assimilating principle by which all harmonise. The regeneration through which they have passed has effected this great change. Once they were at enmity with God. But now they love Him.
(1) As revealed in Christ. Who, as he has realised the preciousness of the Saviour, has not felt the kindling of a fervent love to Him who, when He had no greater gift, commended His love to us by the gift of His dear Son?
(2) In His paternal character. The Spirit of adoption takes captive their hearts, and they love God with a child's fervent, adoring, confiding affection.
(3) For all His conduct, for the wisdom, faithfulness, holiness of His procedure — for what He withholds as for what He grants. Of the source of this feeling let us not lose sight, "We love Him because He first loved us."
2. "Who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 1:6, 7). What a glorious vocation is this! To have heard the Holy Spirit's voice, to have felt the Saviour's love, to have listened to a Father's persuasive assurance, called to be God's holy ones — sons; this were a vocation worthy indeed of God, and demanding in return our supremest, deepest affection! The principle upon which this call proceeds is said to be, "according to His purpose." It excludes all idea of merit on the part of the called (2 Timothy 1:9). Has this call reached you? Ministers, the gospel, providences, conscience have called you, but has the Spirit called you with an inward and effectual vocation from death to life, from sin to holiness, from the world to Christ, from self to God?
II. THE PRIVILEGE WHICH APPERTAINS TO THIS CHARACTER.
1. "All things" under the righteous government of God must necessarily be a working out of good. "Thou art good, and doest good." In Him there is no evil, and consequently nothing can proceed from Him that tendeth to evil. The passage supposes something antagonistic to the well-being of the believer in God's conduct at times. And yet, to no single truth does the Church bear a stronger testimony than to this, that the darkest epochs of her history have ever been those from which her brightest lustre has arisen. But let us pass to individuals. Shall we take the most painful circumstances in the history of the child of God? The Word declares that these circumstances are all conspiring, and all working together, for his good. Take tribulation as the starting-point (Romans 5:3-5). The Bible is rich in illustrations of this. Take, e.g. the cases of Jacob (Genesis 42:36), and Joseph (Genesis 50:20).
2. Observe the unity of operation. They "work together." Seldom does affliction come alone. Storm rises upon storm, cloud on cloud. Trace the wisdom and love of God in ordaining your path to heaven through "much tribulation." Single, the good they are charged to convey were but partially accomplished. It is the compounding of the ingredients in the recipe that constitutes its sanative power. Extract any one ingredient, and you impair the others and destroy the whole. It is the combination of sound, the harmony of many, and often discordant notes, that constitute music. Oh, how imperfectly are we aware of a plurality of trial, to wake from our lips the sweetest anthem of thanksgiving to God! Thus it is that the most deeply tried believers are the most skilful and the most melodious choristers in God's Church. They sing the sweetest on earth, and they sing the loudest in heaven, who are passing through, and who have come out of "great tribulation."
3. It is a present working. It says not that all things have worked or shall work, though this is certain. But it says that all things do now work together for good. The operation may be as invisible and noiseless as the leaven fomenting in the meal, and yet not less certain and effectual. And whether the good be immediate or remote, it matters little; sooner or later it will accomplish its benign and heaven-sent mission.
4. Its certainty. We know it, because God has said it, because others have testified to it, best of all, because we have experienced it ourselves. The shape it may assume, the end to which it may be subservient, we cannot tell. God's glory is secured by it, and that end accomplished, we are sure it must be good. Will it not be a good, if your present adversity results in the dethronement of some worshipped idol — in the endearing of Christ to your soul — in the closer conformity of your mind to God's image — in the purification of your heart — in your more thorough meetness for heaven?
(O. Winslow, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.