Credit is defined as:
- The ability of a customer to obtain goods or services before payment, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future1
- The borrowing capacity of an individual or company2
These two definitions are primarily used in the financial world but have become common in our every day terminology. Not only because we need ‘credit’ to qualify for a mortgage or a car loan, but we also use it to buy things in general (IE credit cards). As most of us understand, there is a process and resulting score that the financial world uses to assess and determine how much it can trust us to make good on our financial promises. That’s where the statement “based on the trust that payment will be made” comes into play (see definition 1 above). After all, it’s easy to “promise” that payment will be made in the future, and a bit more difficult to actually make the payment. If and when we miss a payment (or two or three), or even when make a payment past the due date that trust level goes down and is indicated in our credit score. Factors in this score and in the resulting level of trust that the world has in our financial promises include our age, our debt to income ratios, how long we’ve been using credit, how faithfully we’ve made payments over time, etc.
For anyone to have a good credit score, payments need to be made and made on time consistently through the years, allowing that level of trust to be built up over time – and missed or late payments need to be avoided. This seems logical right? Therefore, if anyone wants to have an absolutely perfect credit score, that means that every single payment would be made on time, without fail. Not even a single3 late payment – ever. No missed payments, late payments, debt consolidation, renegotiated terms, or interest paid due to deferred payments. Not a single failure to make good on your promise. Now, imagine that the consumer who somehow fits this credit parameter and has for 40 or even 50 or 100 years and you can guess how high the level of trust is from the financial world in extending them credit – both in quantity and in quality. I think that most banks would allow this consumer to charge or borrow whatever they wanted with little fear that he would make good on his payment.
This principle is also true with the Savior. Throughout the eons of the pre-existence (which is really more time4 than any of us can even imagine) Jesus Christ exhibited perfect obedience to every command and did always those things which pleased his father.5 Thus Christ was able to develop a truly infinite amount of spiritual credit. This fact allowed the full gamut of positive effects flowing from the atonement to be efficacious to anyone and everyone – long before the atonement was actually performed. This allowed every single person all the way back from the very beginning6 to draw upon the power of the atonement, utilize repentance, have faith in Christ, and through the spirit become more than they could have on their own – all long before the actual debt was paid.
Just imagine with me how many times throughout the long pre-existence the Lord was perfect in making his payments and in developing that spiritual credit. Hint: it’s a really really really long time and a really really long and impressive list of things that he did. This all leading up to the great moment in which he answered “here am I, send me.”7
The universe itself was perfectly content to allow the effects of the atonement to be realized prior to the atonement being performed. The laws of justice and mercy had no issues with extending their spiritual credit for thousands if not millions or billions of years in advance of a promised payment. That alone should give us an idea of just how perfect the savior had been because these eternal and immovable laws of the universe probably carry a bit more weight than the man-made credit bureau algorithms in the end – and that includes their absolute and exacting demand for a full and perfect payment. Even a payment that fulfilled “every whit”8 of the law, yea, “every jot and tittle.”9 With that in mind, the second definition above seems appropriate – as the spiritual credit that the Lord acquired is very much related to his infinite “capacity”.
One point in all of this is to help us remember just how perfect the savior has always been, which allowed us to have perfect faith in his response to the the fathers question “who will go for us?”10 in the pre-existence and allows us to have perfect faith in him today – because we know with absolute certainty that he will make his payments.
The other point in all of this is to help us understand and to feel the intense gravity of his plea in the garden to somehow “let the hour pass from him.”11 As he went to “a place called Gethsemane”12, his soul became “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death”13 – yet he still moved forward, and he went “a little further.” As he did, he “fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”14
Here we have the most perfect being, the most obedient and trustworthy of all, the most exact, faithful, honorable and loyal son after eons of time asking his father if there is a possible alternative to the required payment due to his feeling the immense weight of it all – and asking that question three times. Christ himself said that he “would that I might not drink the bitter cup.”15 The idea of someone who has been perfectly obedient for eons, someone who understands so well the science of obedience and the immutable laws of the eternities, to explore the possibilities of another way and to even ask his father if there was a way out should help us feel the awesome power of that plea and the crushing weight of the world he felt on his shoulders. Yet, as we know, the Savior in his perfect obedience and perfect love for all of us, submitted his will and any inklings of personal comfort that night to the father and took upon himself the sins and pains of the world which caused him – “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit.”16
Thus the savior made good on his promise – just like we knew he would. Just like his father knew he would, and just like the universe knew he would. This perfect being; the light, the life, and the hope of the world was squeezed as none other could be, and in those pressing moments, rather than shrink – his soul did expand17 as he battled all alone against the vast armies of death and sin and darkness. In the end, Jesus and his light overpowered death and paid the debt. Now, Jesus Christ is eagerly encouraging us to access, use, and spend that same spiritual credit made available by his loving payment. It is the limitless source of grace that we can draw from every single day – and in every circumstance to help us become like him and learn to love like him.
Let us be thankful for this gift, and let us receive the gift so that we can “rejoice in that which is given”, and rejoice “in him who is the giver of the gift.”18
1 Google search ‘definition of credit’
3 I realize that credit and credit scores generally take 2, 7, or 10+ years’ worth of data to perform their calculations. For the purposes of this definition, and the use of ‘absolute’ I have used the word never, and don’t intend that to be limited to the rolling 2 or 7 or even 10-year period.
4 Alma 40:8 – Time is only measured unto man.
5 John 8:29
6 I do mean the very beginning (like the pre-existence), and not just the beginning of mortality. The book of Revelations indicates that during the war in heaven, the victorious troops (Michael and his angels) overcame the great dragon, and cast him out “by the blood of the Lamb.” We can understand that the blessings flowing from the atonement are literally infinite (and this includes time).
7 Abr. 3:27. See also Moses 4:1, 2 Ne. 16:8 and Isa. 6:8. This idea allows us to rule out any other options for volunteers at that moment as well. Even if there were others who volunteered to go for us, or who ‘promised to pay’ – their ‘capacity’ or their spiritual credit just didn’t qualify them to make that contract (covenant). That debt-to-income ratio was just way too high for us.
8 3 Ne. 1:25
9 Alma 34:13
10 2 Ne. 16:8 and Isa. 6:8
11 Mark 14:35
12 Matt. 26:36
13 Mark 14:38
14 Matt. 26:38
15 Matt. 26:39. See also Mark 14:35
16 D&C 19:18
17 Alma 5:9
18 D&C 88:33