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It Will Be Good For You!

“Why do we have to memorize and spell correctly all of these names of species, genus, family, etc. for all of these plants?”

The rest of the lab class couldn’t believe I was challenging our professor, even though I was sure the rest of them felt the same as I did. He promptly assured me that this was a good exercise for my brain. I told him my brain was sufficiently exercised at this point in my life and that none of this was relevant for those of us who weren’t biology majors. I kindly suggested the university come up with something more worthwhile and valuable for a general science requirement. Meanwhile I was stuck with memorizing the taxonomy of the entire greenhouse.

We balk at people who say they know what is good for us. I can still hear my young children wail, “Why do I have to?” Sometimes there isn’t a valid reason. But when we have faith in that person and trust they know what they are talking about, when we know they are right but don’t want to admit it, we finally accede to the trial or discipline or lecture or meeting or evaluation.

We don’t hear “You’re going to like it!” We are simply told only that it will be good for us. That’s what it means to be salutary. It’s beneficial even if it’s something we aren’t looking forward to like surgery, medical tests, tax returns, or daily exercise.

As leaders we must be sure that what we ask our family, our workers, our members to do isn’t just some meaningless requirement. We need to be able to justify the relevance of our requests to be sure there is buy-in. If the task is worthwhile it usually will be accepted even if it’s something no one is anticipating with eagerness. They realize that it’s got to be done.

God knows what is good for us, what is beneficial and salutary. He knows it isn’t good for us to go through life alone (Genesis 2:18). God also disciplines us for our own good to make us holy (Hebrews 12:10). Our Lord Jesus warns those who think achieving and gaining everything in this world is the most profitable thing to do and yet are in danger of losing their souls (Mark 8:36). He also knew it was for our own good that He leave this earth for awhile so He could send the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Comforter (John 16:7).

The apostle Paul talks about what is beneficial and good. He took to task those who would claim they have the right to do anything. He said that may be true, but not everything is beneficial or constructive. He even warned them not to put their own good before the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). Sometimes what we do for the good of others will be unpleasant or unwelcome for us personally. We need to keep that in mind when we are deciding what is our best choice, what is truly good, beneficial and salutary.

It is also good to face what we’ve done wrong. Set the example for others in our family, company, organization or church. Deal with it and move on. Get it over with. Clear the air. And it is good to put the wrongs of others behind us and not keep bringing up old grievances.

When we take time as individuals to be honest with ourselves and with our Lord Jesus, that is a good thing. In the days leading up to Good Friday, the day that was beneficial for our future, it is salutary for us to contemplate the cost of those sins.

Because it was our Lord Jesus who weighed the benefits of that sacrifice. Certainly it wasn’t in His best interest to be tortured to death. Yet He didn’t put His own good before ours. Even the high priest unknowingly agreed with God’s plan for our salvation when he convinced the Jewish leaders that it was good for one man to die for the people (John 18:14).

It was good for the Lord Jesus to die for those sins. Our sins. Those sins that are now as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). And as the Lutheran liturgy says, “It is truly good, right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks.” It goes on to tell us who we should thank: our everlasting God through His Son our Lord Jesus.

It is good and salutary to give Him thanks even when we don’t always see the benefits of what is happening to us in this world. For without our Lord Jesus’ salutary gift of His own life, without that promise of forgiveness and grace, without that assurance that He truly rose from the dead and is alive today, we could never experience the goodness, the unspeakable joy of belonging to Him.

Leaving my guilt at the cross,


(First published at Lead Like Jesus April 2022)


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