One of the themes of the book of Genesis is how “God’s providential care for his people uses their imperfections to achieve his purposes for them.” (ESV Study Bible Intro to Genesis).
Last week as I read this sentence it struck me. In God’s providence, in his care for us, he uses our imperfections to achieve his purposes for us. In other words, he uses our failures, our mistakes, our poor decisions, our immaturity – even our sins – to achieve his purposes for us. This doesn’t encourage us to sin – sin can have terrible consequences – but encourages us to believe that even when we have sinned, even when we have failed and fallen far short of God’s glory, God is greater than our sins and causes all things – even our sins and imperfections – to work together for our good. Genesis is filled with examples.
For example, Jacob deceives his father Isaac and “steals” the birthright from Esau. Yet God used Jacob’s sin to fulfill his purposes to work through Jacob and not Esau.
Joseph’s lack of wisdom and foolishly sharing his dreams with his brothers caused them to despise him. Then his brothers sinned by selling him into slavery. Yet God used Joseph’s immaturity and lack of wisdom and his brothers’ sins to get him to Egypt and eventually to become the #2 man there and provide food for multitudes in Egypt, as well as for his own brothers and their families.
Joseph grasped how God had caused his brothers’ sins to work for his good, their good and the good of many others when he said to them:
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (GE 50:19-21)
Romans 8:28 affirms this principle of God’s providential care for his children:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
God causes ALL things to work together for good for those who love him. ALL things – all of history, all the actions of men, good and bad. Weather, technology, economies, rain, sunshine, floods, fires, promotions, losses, victories – ALL things – work together for our good. Things we do right – our obedience, our pursuit of Jesus as disciples, our good intentions. But also things we do wrong – our mistakes as parents, our mess-ups, our failures, our poor decisions, yes even our sins. God causes them ALL to work together for our good.
How great is our God! How wonderful he is. How comforting to know that all those poor decisions you made in the past aren’t too much for God to overcome and turn to your ultimate good. Only those who believe in Jesus can have this comfort. When unbelievers say “Everything works out for the best” they have no basis to believe that. But we who believe in Jesus have a God who in his providential care for us, uses our imperfections to achieve his purposes for us.