Worth of Souls

family at Christmas

The Worth of a Christmas Tree

Since October, my wife had been looking for a new Christmas tree. She loves to decorate the house, and she loves Christmas. Our old trees are too small for our current house, which has high vaulted ceilings. She wanted a nine-foot tree with a wider base and many built-in lights. Most of all, she wanted it to be beautiful.

What is such a tree worth? Most places we found that sold full-size nine-foot trees wanted around $500, which was more than we wanted to spend. The price of the tree helped to establish its worth. Since we were not prepared to spend what the stores wanted, we did not get a new tree. We set up our old one and put up our older decorations and lights.

Christmas decoration

On Christmas Eve, we were at Home Depot picking up some supplies for a holiday home improvement project when she found it—the tree of her dreams. It was on clearance for $130. It was nine feet tall, had a full-sized base, and came pre-lit with 1000 lights that could be white or multi-colored. It even included a remote control and a foot switch to make it easy to turn the lights on and off. We bought it immediately and set it up that day, just in time for Christmas. We were so excited that we shared our clearance tree story with anyone who would listen.

Christmas Tree
The new Northcott family Christmas tree

During our lives, we must often determine what things are worth. This is separate and independent from its cost. We were happy to purchase our Christmas tree because its cost (the price we paid) was lower than its worth (the value that we placed on the item). It is very easy to know what something costs, but it can be difficult or impossible to know its worth. The store, for example, was probably happy to sell us the tree for only $130 because otherwise they would have been forced to keep the tree in their warehouse until next Christmas, which would end up costing them more than the profits lost by selling to us at a low price. We were very happy to buy the tree because we had been looking at similar trees for some time, and we were convinced that the true value of the tree was far more than the clearance price.

The Worth of Our Souls for Christ

What about our own worth?

Paul and Peter understood the price that was paid for our souls because they were eyewitnesses. Paul tells us that we “are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Peter makes this even clearer, telling us that we “were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Christ in Gethsemane

In the Doctrine and Covenants, Jesus tells us in His own words how it felt to redeem us: “Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19). As one of the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening” in the February 22-28, 2021 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families suggests, “these verses help us understand our worth to the Father and the Son.”

Jesus on Cross

It is truly “wonderful to me” that Christ was willing to pay this incredible price for a “soul as rebellious and proud as mine” (“I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, no. 193). I believe that it is this great price that our Saviour had in mind when he implored us to “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). Like the original high price of our new Christmas tree, the price that Jesus was willing to pay for our souls establishes our great worth.

The Bargain of Repentance

James Northcott

Just like the tree, we do not have to pay the original price for our souls. The ransom has been paid for each of us, and the demands of justice are met, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. His atoning sacrifice will be effective for us only if we repent. King Lamoni, after having been taught by Aaron, put it this way: “O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day” (Alma 22:18).

I wonder if I truly understand my own worth. It was easy to pay the clearance price for the tree, but it is sometimes not so easy to give away our comfortable sins through repentance. It is easier to repent when we remember that this is the clearance price, and that what we receive in return is our own soul and its full divine potential.