[T]he Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts–what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts–what we have become.
This is followed closely by the parable of the rich man explaining his son’s inheritance:
That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. (Emphasis in the original)
I love the perspective and insight that these give. First, the importance of enduring and pushing onward. Second, the insight into why personal experience is necessary for us to learn. We’re going to make mistakes – that’s fine. It’s part and parcel with this mortal probation. Learning to make choices means that we’re going to make some bad choices along the way. Our Heavenly Father understood this, so He provided a Savior for us.
There is no tally at the end. We’re not going to stand before the judgement bar of the Almighty and cross our fingers while angels count the good and bad deeds we’ve done, hoping that the good outnumbers the bad. (“Sometimes the Ups outnumber the Downs… but not in Nottingham.”) It’s going to be an acknowledgement (I love that word there) of who we have become as the result of the deeds we’ve done.
I recently faced a tough decision. I carefully weighed the alternatives. Would the activity be worth the money I’d spend? What about the time I’d need to invest? How would this affect my wife? With all of these assessments, I could justify either decision. Finally, my mind rested upon a new question: “If I do this, will it take me closer to the man I want to be, or further away?” Once I framed the question in those terms, all doubt left my mind, and I was able to clearly see the better choice.
What will you do today to bring yourself closer to being the person you want to be?
“The Challenge to Become” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
October 2000 General Conference