By Wei Hung Yong.
LET NOT THIS PRIDE OF YOUR HEARTS DESTROY YOUR SOUL (Book of Mormon, JACOB 2:16)
As Parents, we say we are proud of our children. We also take pride in our work.
However, in the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term.” 1
Pride is called the Universal Sin
The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of modern revelation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tells us that the Book of Mormon is the “record of a fallen people” (D&C 20:9). Why did the Book of Mormon people fall? This is one of the major messages of the Book of Mormon. The warrior-prophet Mormon gives the answer in the closing chapters of the book in these words:
“Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction except they should repent” (Moroni 8:27). Hundreds of years before Mormon’s epistle, Nephi prophesied concerning his seed: “For the reward of their pride and their foolishness they shall reap destruction” (2 Nephi 26:10). Nephi and Mormon were speaking almost 1,000 years apart, yet they were both referring to the same event. In both of their declarations the reason given for the destruction of the Nephite nation was pride.
Mormon doctrine teaches that we all lived with God our Father in a pre-mortal, spiritual realm before we were born into mortality with physical bodies. The Bible alludes to a war in heaven preceding the creation of the earth, in the which Lucifer was cast out for rebellion to become Satan, the father of lies. Mormon doctrine teaches that all of us gathered in a pre-mortal council to offer our support for Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World. In that pre-mortal council, it was pride that felled Lucifer, “a son of the morning.” (See 2 Nephi 24:12–15; see also D&C 76:25–27; Moses 4:3.) In the pre-earthly council, Lucifer placed his proposal in competition with the Father’s plan as advocated by Jesus Christ. (See Moses 4:1–3.) He wished to be honored above all others. (See 2 Ne. 24:13.) In short, his prideful desire was to dethrone God. (See D&C 29:36; D&C 76:28.) Pride felled Lucifer, a son of the morning “who was in authority in the presence of God.” 9
At the end of this world, when God cleanses the earth by fire, the proud will be burned as stubble and the meek shall inherit the earth. (See 3 Ne. 12:5, 3 Ne. 25:1; D&C 29:9; JS—H 1:37; Mal. 4:1.) Meekness does not mean weakness; it means to be truly humble, which is realizing that without God we are nothing, but with His help we can do anything.
It was through pride that Christ was crucified. The Pharisees were wroth because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, which was a threat to their position, and so they plotted His death. (See John 11:53.) If pride brought about the crucifixion of the only sinless man ever to be born and proved the downfall of the covenant people in Book of Mormon times, then of what consequence is pride to the covenant people today?
Our Personal Pride
Pride is the main characteristic of the “natural man,” which is an enemy to God. If pride can corrupt one as capable and promising as was Lucifer, should we not examine our own souls as well?
Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride.
It breeds hatred or hostility and places us in opposition to God and our fellowmen. At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with “Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,” it always seems to end with “Therefore, I am better than you.”
It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.
For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer.
The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.” The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives. (See Helaman 12:6.) They pit their perceptions of truth against God’s great knowledge, their abilities versus God’s priesthood power, their accomplishments against His mighty works.
The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s. The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. (See Prov. 15:10; Amos 5:10.) This is obvious in the scriptures whenever the people become angry at a prophet calling them to repentance, angry enough to kill a prophet.
Disobedience is essentially a prideful power struggle against someone in authority over us. It can be a parent, a priesthood leader, a teacher, or ultimately God. A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him. He thinks this lowers his position.
Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression. (See Alma 12:10–11.) The proud are not easily taught. (See 1 Nephi 15:3, 7–11.) They won’t change their minds to accept truths, because to do so implies they have been wrong.
Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing. The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.
The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”
The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. (See D&C 3:6–7; D&C 30:1–2; D&C 60:2.) “What will men think of me?” weighs heavier than “What will God think of me?”
The proud love “the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42–43.) Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest.
When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod, a symbol of the word of God, which if held on to and followed, will lead us back to Him. (See 1 Nephi 8:19–28; 1 Nephi 11:25; 1 Nephi 15:23–24.)
The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.”
Pride often shows temporary success to be nothing more than postponed failure. Pride is often the key ingredient to this negative success formula.
Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. (See 2 Nephi 9:42.) There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and being unforgiving and jealous.
Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. “How everything affects me” is the center of all that matters—self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking.
The scriptures testify that the proud are easily offended and hold grudges. (See 1 Nephi 16:1–3.) They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.
The world teaches that in order to have winners you must have losers, while the gospel proclaims that winning in life at the expense of others is wrong.
The Lord’s Counsel
“Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39).
Jesus Christ is our perfect example. Whereas Lucifer tried to change the Father’s plan of salvation and obtain honor for himself, the Savior said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” 17 Despite His magnificent abilities and accomplishments, the Savior was always meek and humble.
Jesus said He did “always those things” that pleased God. (John 8:29.)
Should we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are here to live according to His law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children.
The Apostle Peter warned that “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”1 Peter 5:5. Mormon explained, “None is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.”Moroni 7:44. And by design, the Lord chooses “the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”1 Corinthians 1:27.
We are servants of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are here to roll up our sleeves and go to work.
We are called to prepare the world for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We must learn, as Moses did, that “man is nothing”by himself but that “Moses 1:10.with God all things are possible.” 16
“No one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love.”Doctrine and Covenants 12:8.
Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.
Humility directs our attention and love toward others.
We can choose to humble ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement. We can choose to humble ourselves by forgiving those who have offended us. We can choose to humble ourselves by rendering selfless service. We can choose to preach the word that can humble others. (See Mosiah 2:16–17.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives. Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can.” 14
‘Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.’ … 25 Alma 32:16.
Think of what pride has cost us in the past and what it is now costing us in our own lives, our families, and the Church.
We can choose to humble ourselves by forgiving those who have offended us. (See 3 Ne. 13:11, 14; D&C 64:10.)
We can choose to humble ourselves by rendering selfless service.
Think of the repentance that could take place with lives changed, marriages preserved, and homes strengthened, if pride did not keep us from confessing our sins and forsaking them. (See D&C 58:43.)
Wei Hung Yong is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of the Penang, Malaysia Branch.