D&C 18:10--The Worth of Souls
Camille’s Farewell Talk
September 8, 2013
Good morning, brothers and sisters. I was asked to speak on D&C 18:10, one of my favorite scriptures. It simply reads, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” Just twelve words, but so profound. This is absolutely wonderful, The God of heaven and Earth, who created everything in existence, values my soul and our soul and the soul of every single one of his billions of sons and daughters.
The word soul is used as a synonym for “spirit” in the scriptures. So our soul, or spirit, was created by our Heavenly Father. He is the Father of our souls, which reside in our bodies now. At death our soul and body will separate until the Resurrection, when our soul will be reunited with our perfected bodies, and if we have been righteous, we, as a united body and soul, will meet Him again.
So how do we know that our souls are of great worth to God? How has he shown us? The answer is in the next verse of D&C 18. Verse 11 says, “For behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.” How much are our souls worth? According to this, our souls are worth dying for. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. Jesus understood the value of our souls, and so he came to Earth to pay the price for our sins, that we might be able to repent and be worthy of eternal life, and he died on the cross and was resurrected, that we might also be resurrected.
Not only did Christ labor for our souls, but our Heavenly Father does. In Moses 1:39, He says “For behold, this is my work and my glory---to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” God is working to save us! Our salvation is His GLORY! Nothing better illustrates this than Jacob 5, the allegory of the olive tree. The Lord of the vineyard and his servant, who represents Christ, digs and prunes, and nourishes His vineyard, which represents our world. Despite all their hard work, the wild, corrupt fruit overcame the good fruit, and in verse 41, the Lord of the vineyard weeps, and asks the servant, “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” But even then, the servant convinces the Lord to try to save it, and so they give it one last chance, and labor with all their might. They even call in more servants to come help them nourish the good fruit and cast out the bad, and in the end, the vineyard is saved, and producing good fruit again.
Marion G. Romney, in a 1978 talk on the worth of souls said that “In comparison to eternal life, all else sinks into insignificance. For, as Jesus said: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37)”
If the worth of our souls is greater than any earthly possession, even so great that their salvation is Heavenly Father’s work and glory, should we not treat them as such? Marion G. Romney also said “As God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life of man, so the desire, hope, and work of every man should be to obtain eternal life for himself. And not for himself only but also for his fellowmen.” Those servants in the Lord’s vineyard who answer the Lord’s call represent each of us. He needs our help. We have the chance to work alongside the Lord. There is much work to be done. There are trees, or souls that need nourishing. Will we answer the call to labor in the vineyard?
The sons of Mosiah certainly did. They wanted to go preach the gospel, but not in their own land, in the land of the Lamanites, their wicked enemies who hated all Nephites. When the brothers told their friends this, their friends “laughed them to scorn”. But the sons of Mosiah “were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble” (Mosiah 28:3). They knew their Heavenly Father loved the Lamanites despite their wickedness, and had faith that they could change. They themselves had gone about trying to destroy the church just a few years before. But the Lord chastened them and they repented and were so grateful for the forgiveness they had received they wanted to share it with others. As a result of their mission to the Lamanites thousands joined the church, and repented and lived in peace with the Nephites.
The Lord loves His children on the Earth today, just as much as His children who lived 2000 years ago. Alma 39:17 says, “Is not a soul at this time [Alma’s time] as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?” He wants everyone to have a chance to hear and accept this gospel, and so we should share it with everyone we know, regardless of whether we think they’ll accept or not. Remember that when the sons of Mosiah told their friends they were going to preach to the Lamanites, “they laughed them to scorn”, but thousands ended up joining. We do not know who of our friends is ready to receive the gospel, but the Lord does. If we share it with as many people as possible, we will be blessed for our efforts, and our friends will be blessed.
Clayton M. Christensen tells a story in his book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries about sharing the gospel. They had been challenged to find a family to share the gospel with. After no success with several families that looked like “ideal Mormons” he says, “We gave [the missionaries] the names of four couples we had excluded from our initial list. Among them were the Taylors. We warned that while the elders certainly could knock on the Taylors’ door, it would be a waste of time. The husband had bad feelings about organized religion of any kind. In addition, he was a tough rugby player and loved his daily pints of Guinness ale. The elders returned an hour later, jubilant. The Taylors had invited them in, listened to the first discussion, and invited them back for the second. We subsequently became close friends with the Taylors as we studied the missionary discussions together. We would never have imagined that they would have had any interest in the gospel. We learned from this experience that we simply cannot know in advance who will and will not be interested in learning about the Church. We thought we could judge and therefore excluded from our list many people whose lifestyle, habits, or appearance made them seem unlikely candidates. As we reflect upon those who have joined the Church, however, few of them would have been on our list of “likely members” when they first encountered the Church. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). Living the gospel transforms them. The only way all people can have the opportunity to choose or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ is for us, without judgment, to invite them to follow the Savior.”
On the first day of my mission prep class, Brother Elms told the class to go out onto the streets of Ann Arbor and give away two copies of the Book of Mormon in 10 minutes. We were terrified. We walked through the streets. Dozens passed by, but we only talked to a handful of people. We were able to give away one Book of Mormon. I was glad, but something bothered me. As I thought about why I chose to talk to some people and not others, I realized I had unconsciously been looking for clean-cut, modestly-dressed, nice-looking people; people who fit my idea of what a Mormon should look like. I had judged these people before talking to them. I had decided that they wouldn’t accept the gospel before they even had an opportunity to hear it. I learned a humbling lesson, that the gospel is for everyone. Everyone deserves to hear it because everyone is a child of God. It is up to the individual to accept or reject it.
Some of you may have heard of Al Fox. Some call her “the Tattooed Mormon”. When Al Fox first met the elders, she wasn’t at all interested in the church, but joked that she would listen to what they had to say if they bought her a steak dinner. Much to her surprise, they showed up a couple hours later with a steak dinner, and so she reluctantly listened. She met with the missionaries almost every day for the next few weeks, but when given a Book of Mormon, she promised she would never read it. She also doubted the story of the Restoration. But after a powerful experience with prayer in the nearby Sacred Grove, Al gained a testimony of prayer and started to try living the gospel. She was baptized a few weeks later on August 22, 2009. Now she speaks at firesides all over the country and makes videos online, sharing her conversion story with the world, inspiring thousands. And just a few weeks ago, she was married in the temple on the four-year anniversary of her baptism.
Al Fox was prepared by the Lord to receive the gospel, even though she didn’t know it. But Heavenly Father and those elders knew that her soul was precious, and gave her a chance and didn’t give up on her.
I would like to close by bearing my testimony that God loves His children. He wants you and me and everyone we know to be happy, and to follow His commandments so that we may be with Him again. I know that everything that has brought me joy in this life has come through the gospel. (God loves me, has a plan for me, and I can be with my family forever). And it is my responsibility as a Latter-day Saint, and soon, as a full-time missionary to share that. Because the people around us need it just as much as we do.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.