In this well-known verse from Romans Paul says that all things work together for good to those who love God. What kinds of good does he have in mind? The answer as far as the believers are concerned is spiritual good and eternal good. This awareness increases the love of believers for their God.
What are the features of this love? Love is a combination of attraction and dedication, of delight and allegiance. This is true of love between humans, but it is also true of love to God. We are drawn by his beauty, whether it be the beauty of his character or the beauty of his actions. The love of a believer for God is a responsive love.
In this responsive love there are at least three elements. The first is admiration. This verse has succinctly stated what God does for his people individually, corporately and universally. Although a short statement it covers all the attributes and actions of God. Just as a human lover rejoices to discover the traits of his or her beloved, so believers delight in discovering who God is. They delight to focus on each attribute. As they consider his purpose, they marvel at his wisdom. They say with Paul in Romans 11:33: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!’ They think of his love and recall that he has loved them with an everlasting love, and that nothing can separate them from it. They rejoice that his power is at work in their lives. As they progress on the Christian journey, they increase in love to God, so therefore they admire him more and more.
A second element in Christian love is gratitude. Believers reason that if God did all this for them, then they should be grateful to him. Their prayers, as well as their praises, should be marked by thanksgiving. He sent his Son to be the Saviour, and with him freely gives all things. They sense the overflowing nature of his grace and they respond with increasing gratitude.
The third element is obedience. The apostle John writes in 1 John 2:5: ‘but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him.’ Admiration and gratitude result in dedication. Believers know that their true happiness comes in serving God and they know that they are indebted to serve him.
As Christians we are involved in God’s eternal purpose. The outworking of this purpose is God’s continual activity, with one of his goals being to work everything together for the spiritual and eternal good of his people, a goal that includes other great blessings. Our appropriate response is to love him wholeheartedly.