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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Don't Just Be Good. Be Good For Something.

Everyone knows that kind of person.  You know, the one in school who was friendly with everyone, involved in everything, gets good grades all the time.  That one employee at work who always has the most creative ideas, but is humble about them, always gets the promotions and recognition from the boss, but is a good team worker and encourages others all the time too. The kind of person who is really easy to love, talk to, confide in, and truly admire. I knew a few of those people in school and jobs I've had, but one thing I've also noticed about them is something that truly sets them apart from the rest on every level.  They are not just good people.  They are good for something.  They are happy with their successes and that of others, but they don't stick to just being good.  They are always shooting for more.

In Delta High School in Delta, Colorado there was as section in our yearbook - I think it was my freshman year - for quotes and one guy, David Rupp, was quoted as saying something like "the only problem with being good is you have to prove it." Although I would disagree with him regarding the word 'problem' in that quote, it's true.  If you're going to be good, prove it.  Make sure people know you as a good person.  Being a bad or mediocre person is easy and takes very little brain power and active effort.  If you're going to be good, going back to my first thought, be good for something.

From a Latter-day Saint perspective, this article quite effectively, though indirectly and likely unintentionally, carries this point further by illustrating the potential problem of being a part of the same ten, same six or same [insert number here] families.  If it's always the same families carrying the ward, occupying leadership positions, setting up and putting away chairs and tables for events, giving the insightful comments in Sunday School or Elders Quorum and Relief Society, teaching with the missionaries and/or more, those who are a little more in the background and are also active, faithful members of the Lord's church may not get a chance to stretch themselves as much spiritually by going out of their comfort zone.

I've heard my parents and priesthood leaders in different stages in my life express relief and joy when they say "I'm so glad we don't have to worry about [insert name here]'s testimony or faith in the Lord and His gospel. They're rock solid in it." or "It's nice to see [insert name here] doing so well and focused where they should be.  That's one less source of worry for us."  Some are more actively involved in serving within their ward/branch and others prefer to let those who always volunteer take the reins. Many are so set in their habits, even good habits, that they are satisfied with just being good.  Don't get me wrong.  Being good is far better than the alternative.  Most of the world doesn't even want to do that much; and those who are strong in their testimonies still need consistent, proper attention from their families and leaders, but to really break spiritual barriers we impose upon ourselves, we deserve to take things a step further.

I believe that the best way either one of those types of saints can be more and qualify to inherit the glory God has already prepared for us is to go beyond setting any proverbial ceiling of commitment and sacrifice for the greater good.  I believe it requires, as Jack R. Christianson put it, "[coming] to know [Christ]."  The full context of that statement is as follows and I include it because of it's pivotal import in God's plan: "Will you come to know Him better? I don't mean know about Him. That's so wonderful. Knowing about Him is the greatest sweetest thing in all the world, except coming to know Him."  That kind of relationship with our Savior goes quite deep into the fabric of our souls.  I can tell you loads about my wife and myself for the sake of information and knowing about us, but knowing someone goes much further than that.  I love this definitions of the word 'know': "To have a practical understanding of, as through experience."

That's huge!  I cannot fathom in my mortal condition what it would be like to truly have a practical understanding of the Son of God.  But, why would the Savior say "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent [italics added]" if it wasn't possible?  Of course, He wouldn't.  So how could we possibly come to a practical understanding of Christ through experience if we are not required to suffer what He did and live as He did perfectly?  The answer is simple enough, I think.  We do so by obeying Him more completely, loving Him more fully, serving and trusting Him more willingly and forsaking everything ungodly more deliberately, faithfully and with a brighter hope each day.  How else could I know my wife than by experiencing what she has experienced to the best of my ability or come to know the Savior of the world than by experiencing what He has, within divinely established limits of course, the best I can.  I do not know of any other way to come to know Him than by knowing, first hand, rejection, persecution, and other hardship as well as the purest joys, rewards, trust and love that can only come by living and becoming godly.  We come to know Him by living as He did and becoming as He is.

Resulting from that, I am totally confident, will be the peace of godliness, love of others and ourselves, becoming more than just good, but good for something and, in the case of living and being Christlike, good for all that is good.

So go do something that sets you apart from the crowd and makes you more unified with your Father in Heaven, make a new habit that brings out your individuality and brings others to glorify God, set a new standard for yourself by which you reflect the light of the Lord.  Really make yourself stand out from the world by developing the abilities God gave you in a way that blesses the lives of others and brings all of us closer to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Don't just be good.  Be good for something.  Be good for "bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."