The price of a human heart

How much does the human heart cost? Can a price tag be placed on a heart, the very organ necessary for life? How much is life worth? While figures might be measured and calculated today, the numbers would be altered with future generations and circumstances of those who may have more material resources. 

God, however, puts no comparison on life. He is no respecter of persons. He loves the prince and the pauper equally. He loves both the sinner and the Saint. Perhaps, at times, he loves those who stray even more, or at least he pleads with us all (often through His prophets) to repent and to “feast upon his love” (Jacob 3:2). We’ve been encouraged to come and buy “without money and without price… and feast upon that which perisheth not…[and] Let your hearts rejoice” (2 Nephi 9:50-52).

Jesus taught of the importance of leaving the 99 to seek out the lost one. He showed the example by mingling with and dining with sinners. He touched the unclean. He healed those who were shunned and who had any and every kind of sickness, especially those stained with sin but also those who did no wrong. 

For each of us Christ has an open door, an invitation to come unto Him. He says to us now what He said unto the Nephites two thousand years ago: “Return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you [and]…if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life” (3 Nephi 9:13-14).

So, how much is a heart worth? How much is your peace worth? How much are people worth? The Lord has simply said, “Remember the worth of souls is great” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). Great is the price. That figure cannot be limited by centuries or by currency. We must not underestimate or undervalue that precisely used word: GREAT. The worth of a soul is GREAT in the sight of God. It is large. It is voluminous. It is of considerable worth, awesome in measurement. It is significant, gigantic. The human soul is, in a word, GREAT. 

You may not see yourself in that word, but you ought to. You are priceless in the Lord’s eyes. So is the person sitting next to you. Even those who’ve despised and used and betrayed you? Yes. They are great too. What about those who’ve lied and who’ve engaged in riotous living like the prodigal son? Yes, they too are GREAT in the sight of God. 

So, why can’t we see it? We should see ourselves and others through spiritual lenses. If through God’s eyes we could view ourselves and others, it might change the course of our existence. Isn’t that the standard to shoot for then? 

But what about people who are mean and who have done things they shouldn’t have? What about them? Are we like the prodigal son’s brother? When we feel we’ve done no wrong, when we haven’t lived a life like those others around us, we may feel mistreated, forlorn, or forgotten by God. We shouldn’t. 

The prodigal son repented. What about those who haven’t yet taken those steps? How should we treat them? 

How fast can someone repent? Alma repented immediately, so did Saul on the road to Tarsus. Repentance can be immediate. It won’t be easy. That’s one of the reasons we should never sin, but it can be instantaneous if we let it. (See Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Speeches, “For Times of Trouble,” March 18, 1980.)

As “the world is ripening in iniquity” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:6), I wish to remind each of us the price—the worth—of a soul. Specifically, though, I hope to address broken spirits and wounded, broken hearts. 

How much is one willing to pay to cure a heart? What lengths is one willing to go through to help cure a broken heart? 

As the hymn goes, 

Within the quiet heart is hidden

Sorrow that the eye can’t see. (Susan Evans McCloud, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns 1985, no. 220.)

But, as another hymn answers,

As I search the holy scriptures…

May my unseen wounds be healed. (C. Marianne Johnson Fisher, “As I Search the Holy Scriptures,” Hymns 1985, no. 277.)

Indeed, the answers will come in the scriptures more than in any other way. When we read the scriptures, truly search and feast upon them, we will find inspiration, peace, and comfort. We can be filled with the Holy Ghost as we regularly feast upon the words of Christ.

God asks for a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In one sense, we can—and should—place our broken hearts on the altar and let it be consumed. 

After all, the only “uniquely personal thing” we have to give the Lord is the submission of our own will. Everything else He has already given us or loaned to us, including the very air we breathe (Mosiah 2:21). “But,” as Elder Neal A. Maxwell once observed, “when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him. And that hard doctrine lies at the center of discipleship.” (“Sharing insights from my life,” BYU speeches.)

It is God’s will that you’re alive right now in the place you are. It is His will that you have the ability to learn, to act, and to think however you’d like. He simply hopes that you will choose to follow Him and His Son. 

It’s God’s will that consequence follows sin. It’s His will that you can choose to follow Christ and be healed by Him. 

It is not God’s will that you’re a victim to any kind of abuse or sin. Sorrow can come from the agency of others. That is a natural consequence of the plan of salvation, which by the way, is a perfect plan. Yes, sorrow and heartache and heartbreak come because of the choices others make. It can also come because of the choices we make. 

I’ve had members of the restored gospel come to me and wonder why the Holy Ghost would prompt them to get married to someone only to find out that years later that person didn’t honor their covenants. This is not a simple question to respond to and not one I will address now. I will simply say this: The Lord does not make mistakes. When times get tough in this probationary period, as Alma described it as, we need to rely more heavily upon the Lord. Unfortunately, too often, we may question our own abilities to receive revelation. We may question our faith. We may question the truths of the restored gospel, and we may find ourselves suffering needlessly. 

In times of trouble, we should remember the Savior was also wounded, betrayed, oppressed, and afflicted. He too suffered. In fact, He suffered more than mankind could suffer except it be unto death. 

When you and I have it hard, we need the Savior to help us. We need Him to save us. He can. He is the Master Healer. He can cleanse us, help us, and make us whole again. He can take away our pains and wipe all the tears from our eyes. 

“Faith may be minimized by some, even discounted by others, but for many, it is an incredible source of power… faith in God is a manifestation of the highest form of intelligence. It is putting aside our pride (a deterrent to learning) and submitting our heart and intellect to that one being who knows all. As a consequence, faith both expedites and maximizes our search for truth.” (Tad R. Callister, America’s Destiny: Choosing God’s Will or Ours, 2023, p. 206.)

Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey has written award-winning articles for the Washington Times,, and other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD. He teaches courses on peer support, suicide prevention, and other mental wellness and resilience to public safety professionals. If you would like Jeff to speak at your event or training please contact him HERE.

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