Be Careful with Romans 8:28!

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...

I have a bee in my bonnet about the abuse of this verse.  So let me get it out there to set the record straight.

First - it begins with 'And' which means there were 27 verses previous to this leading up to it.  It cannot be ignored that this entire chapter is about the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer in Jesus.  I could go into an exposition of the first 27 verses - but this has been done by so many others so much better than I could, so I'll just leave it at that.  'And' means there is a context.  Don't ignore it.

'We know' refers to a group of people identified as 'we.'  It is not the royal 'we' but a specific group of those who can affirm the truths of this entire chapter, book, and book-of-books.  'We' does not refer to anyone.

'That in all things' - this phrase is self-explanatory, but is a good reminder because we sometimes tend to think that this cannot possibly include:

the time three kids were climbing over me and smashed my glasses into my nose
the time I had to lock myself in a room to calm down before I totally lost it with the warring factions in my living room
the time I should have locked myself in a room to calm down, but didn't and then blew it
the time one of my children dumped an entire box of cheerios down the stairs
the time we thought we couldn't meet our financial obligations
the time we had a 7-week old in the hospital with a fractured skull
the time I got clobbered with a brick on my head by nasty neighbours, resulting in stitches and a bald-patch

etc... you fill in and add some of your own!

But 'in all things' includes all of those scenarios.  I've seen it in the past and I trust the calamities I face in the future will also be to accomplish God's good purpose in my life.

'God works'
Keep in mind that it is God doing the work.  Not me.  Not my striving, efforts, pious exercises at spiritual disciplines.  It is certainly God who works IN me to even desire to do what He wants.

'For the good'
Here is the clincher.  Who is writing this book?  Paul.  Who, through Paul?  The Holy Spirit.  Who defines what 'good' means?  Us, or the writer?  I daresay we submit that defining what 'good' means belongs to the One Who IS good.  Perhaps we think 'good' refers to:

sipping iced-tea on a balmy day on a spacious expanse on a front-porch overlooking a white-picket-fence where well-behaved youngsters play cheerfully as the setting sun casts rosy glows over the gently lapping waves of the ocean...

Whatever.  You imagine what 'good' means to you.  Good does not necessarily mean whatever strokes my personal comfort funny bone.  To find out what God means by 'good' we need to do a thorough study of Scripture and see the many ways He demonstrates goodness to His people.

'Of those who love Him'
This one phrase should stop us dead in our tracks before throwing this verse around loosely.  I'm not saying we should doubt whether others love God.  I'm just saying that this phrase does qualify much of what is said in the previous few clauses.  Too often I hear it said, 'Well, God will work it out for good.'  Of course.  That's obvious.  But if you don't love Him, it may not go well for you.  And what good looks like may be different than what we expect.

'Who have been called according to His purpose'
We often ignore what God's purpose for us is.  To find out, read on to verse 29.  Never read a verse alone.  You'll miss so much!
'For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...'
God's stated purpose for us is that we become like Jesus.  Therefore we could read Romans 8:28 like this:

"We who are in God's family know that in any situation we face God will be the One undertaking all we encounter to work His good purpose in our lives - that of becoming like Jesus His son - if we love Him and are called by Him."


  1. Hey Sarah! I love this post, thanks for sharing it! I think you did a great job expounding on this verse! :)

    Visiting from!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Janet! Thanks for the link to your blog! Looks great!


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