lion and cub

For Us

By A.C.

“If God is for us, who can be against us.” (Romans 8:31 NIV) This is an extremely popular verse from the book of Romans that has been quoted by most Christians at least once in their life. It’s an assurance that no matter what I may be going through and no matter what life’s trial may bring, God is on my side. Does it matter who the enemy is that is constantly attacking me? Absolutely not … God is for me.

Growing up on the streets of Brooklyn I developed many lifelong friendships with the guys I grew up with. Guys that I consider to be closer to me than even family. It’s strange how life is, you meet hundreds of people, but in the end your true friends are narrowed down to just a select few. One of the determining factors in who remain friends with you and who you seem to distance yourself from relies on one word… loyalty. Who you can trust when you’re in a pinch and who will leave you when you need them most. In my neighborhood we referred to loyalty as “having your back.” Who is the guy that will be there no matter how tough your situation is and who will run when the heat is on? Strangely, even situations where you maybe wrong, they will still side with you. True friends, no matter what the circumstance, will be there in the end. They got your back.

Although I hate to use street phrases in referencing the way God works on our behalf, I think it’s appropriate in this case. Please excuse me if it may offend you. Whenever I read this verse from the book of Romans one of the first things that comes to my mind is this, “God, no matter what, has my back.” And I say this with all reverence knowing who our Heavenly Father is.

One of the things we must look at when we read this verse and make sure we completely understand is the way it is written. Paul the writer of Romans is not asking a question or leaving room for an option when he starts with the word “if.” The word “if” is expressed as a foregone conclusion not as a wish or a hope for an event to occur. In the phrasing of this verse he isn’t wondering, doubting or asking the question, “if God is with him.“ He knows with absolute certainty and writes this as an affirmation, that He “IS for us.” Some bible translations put it this way and make is easier to understand, “Since, God is for us…” This is a definitive statement. If you’re a believer going through some hard times there is no need to question or doubt God’s whereabouts, HE is for you.

What I also like so much about this verse is the way Paul so subtly dismisses the enemies that face us. He writes “WHO can be against us.” Right from the start he minimizes our enemy into something that seems irrelevant. Now we know from scripture that there are many forces that plot against us. We face an adversary known as the devil who is constantly prowling around in an effort to destroy our salvation. We have the world that has a very attractive, sensual side that is constantly trying to draw us away from the things of God. And we have what might be our worst enemy of all living right inside us known as our “flesh,” which if not kept in check can cause all sorts of damage and chaos in our lives. Still the writer never once mentions any of these by name. In some way they are not significant to our God who is all powerful and is the protector of His people. He just refers to our enemies as “Who.” As if to say “does it really matter?”

It kind of reminds me of something that I remember as a kid. Growing up I always had a love for boxing. I can remember the big cardboard billboard signs outside the local movie theaters that were advertising the next big fight. In big bold letters it would say Mohammed Ali versus… And in the tiniest of print underneath would be the name of his next pathetic opponent. Just from the billboard alone you knew who the champ was and who his next victim was going to be. It’s the same thing in the spiritual world, there is our God and then there is everybody else. All else compared to Him is an unworthy, worthless opponent. This is the God that goes before us.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that whenever we are attacked by an outside force looking to see our demise we can quote such powerful verses as this? And this verse like I just explained shows that God is always there to protect us in our battles against the devil, the world and our flesh. But does this verse give us some additional hope? Can it say something more about the “God who is for us”?

The very next verse may add something a little more to this already great promise… “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all-how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things.” (Romans 8:32) This verse seems to show us another side of God. A side that is not only there to go before us in battle but also a God who wants to provide us with all we need. Through Christ Jesus, who He gave to save us from our sins, He also wants to go before us in every phase and circumstances of our lives… “Giving us all things,” In other words, God is not only for us when we are facing frontal assaults from our enemies, He is for us when we are struggling with our finances. He goes before us in bouts against depression and loneliness. He is for us when we need healing or a new job. Our God is not only for us in our battles against the devil but He goes before us to supply our every need. When you read God’s word, you have to read it in its total context. I always minimized the “If God before us“ promise and only saw Him in this verse as a mighty warrior going out to fight on my behalf, and that He is, but He is also a gentle Father who wants to take care of my every need, through His Son Jesus.

And how does God give us this gift? What is the attitude of God’s heart when dishing out these supplies to us? I can remember having to go to my father to ask him for money when I was a little boy. My father was a very hard man who before he became a Christian didn’t show much emotion so his reactions to my request depended solely on the mood he was in. Sometimes he would take the money out of his pocket and toss it at me as if he was so aggravated it had to leave his wallet. But what is God’s reactions and attitude toward giving us things that we need? This verse here says He “graciously gives us all things.” Freely, without hesitation. How many of us go to prayer thinking that God wants to graciously give me the request I’m asking? As long as we pray according to His will, He likes nothing more than to freely, and happily supply us all that we need and want through Christ Jesus.

The idea of God wanting to “graciously” supply my every need is something that evaded me for the longest time. Sadly because of the way I perceived Christianity as a young kid I thought that once I became a Christian I had to prove my love and commitment by trying to do something for Him. It makes sense doesn’t it? After all He washed away all my sins so now I have to spend the rest of my life trying to pay Him back, right? And if I didn’t perform to the expectations I created He would cut off that supply to me. I bet many of you battle with that same concept. But James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” This verse in James helped me put to rest that concept that held me back for so many years. According to James, everything that we have is a gift from God and is showered down from our Heavenly Father, payback is not necessary. No Gift requires something in return it is to be received gratefully by the recipient. But what if I fail Him or somehow don’t live up to those standards that I created, does He cut off that endless supply to me?  The end of the verse spells it out so emphatically and is one of God’s greatest characteristics, “(He) does not change like shifting shadows.” I may change in my behavior toward Him. I may not live up to the expectations and goals I set for myself but our God is rock steady. His gifts don’t rely on our behavior or attitude; they are showered down on us purely by His Grace and Love for His children.

We don’t earn this blessing by our behavior we receive them by Grace, through Faith. Does He sometimes hold back these gifts momentarily to get our attentions when we are going off course, absolutely… But He is a God who supplies all we need. You and I may shift and change but our God never changes, He is the same ‘yesterday, today and forever.”

If you’re going through some hard times either by all out frontal assaults by the enemy or just from the trials of everyday life remember this… He goes before you. He will defend you against all your enemies as well as supply even your smallest of needs. Don’t let the devil make you believe, like I once did, that His only concerns are for the big things.

He is the God who supplies everything we need as small as you may think they are.

Remember this promise from the book of Romans:
“If God is for us, who can be against us.”

Just Something to Consider