But we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28
For Good – Paul writes Greek, but he thinks Hebrew. Here he has yatav in mind. God wants yatav to manifest itself in His children. There is no higher purpose for life on earth*. In Greek, Paul calls this eis agathon. But there’s a catch. What we think of yatav or eis agathon is not always what God has in mind.
Remember the Hebrew perspective? I don’t know the end of the story. I’m not smart enough, clever enough or powerful enough to see where the road goes. What I think is yatav (well-being) or agathon (good) is sometimes not what’s good for me at all. God is the only One Who knows, and God always starts what He finishes. So, the twists and turns of my life right now might not appear as though they are taking me toward yatav or agathon, but who am I to tell? When Jesus hung on the cross, it certainly didn’t appear that He was on the road to yatav. The crowd jeered at Him. “If you are the Son of God, save yourself!” They couldn’t imagine that crucifixion was the road to agathon – but it was. God knew. Jesus trusted. End of story.
Paul uses an important preposition here that is disguised in English. It’s the preposition eis. We translate it as “for” but it usually means “into or toward.” You see, most Greek prepositions are descriptions of movement. Eis is movement from one place to another. It is movement into a place or toward a place or thing. Its opposite is ek, to go out from. Now read this again, but this time read it as “all things work together into or toward good.” Paul is giving us a Greek view of yatav. God causes everything in our lives to move in the direction of good; to go from less than good into good. That doesn’t mean that every stop along the way is good. It just means that everything is arranged to lead us into good. Every heartache, every trial, every disaster, every joy, every disappointment, every victory, and yes, every sin is reconfigured to lead us into good. We are going somewhere. We don’t see the pathway that will take us there, but He does. If we want to get to the finish, then we will have to trust Him with the roadway engineering.
Where are we going? Well, that’s agathon. This word also has a range of meanings, but when it is applied to people, it means what is virtuous, upright, of noble character and quality. In other words, God is taking us on the road to holiness. Yatav hasn’t changed just because Jesus came into the world. God’s finish line is still the same. The goal is holiness – to be like Him. Just remember that on the way toward holiness, the road goes through a war zone. The good we pursue, the good that God engineers, is not found in the R&R time-out during the war. And sometimes the way to holiness means hanging on a cross.
The same God. The same goal. No real difference between part one of the Bible and part two. “Be holy, for I am holy,” never varies. And God is making sure that we get there.
Topical Index: Finish
*Sorry, but the purpose of life on earth is not to evangelize the world. Evangelism is the natural by-product of yatav manifested in your life. Without yatav, evangelism is shallow and pointless. With yatav, evangelism happens automatically because you are what the world desperately wants.