Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lessons 10-11: Revelations given to Emma Smith, Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum Smith, and others

Beware of pride
(Told to Emma D&C 25:14; to Oliver CowderyD&C 23:1; to the Saints in a conference of the Church D&C 38:39; to the First Presidency of the Church D&C 90:17; to the Saints in Kirtland D&C 98:19–20)

What is pride? It's putting me ahead of God.
It's like listing my priorities:
1. Me
2. God

Pride is nothing more than pure selfishness. Me before you. What I want is more important than what you want.

The exact opposite of pride is love. I set God as my number one priority. If I love God, I let his will direct my decisions.

If you love another person, you are effectively setting their needs ahead of your own. Love is nothing more than pure selflessness -- also defined as charity, or the pure love of Christ. Think about it: he gave absolutely everything he had, including the last remnants of his life, he literally died for your sake. That is pure love. Not a speck of pride (selfishness) was in him.

Ezra Taft Benson was the president of the Church from 1985 to 1994. (FYI, he was followed by Howard W. Hunter, who was president for about a year, then Gordon B. Hinckley, who was president from 1995 to 2008.)

Anyway, President Benson delivered a timeless talk on pride. It's been quoted ever since. It's a classic. Here's some of what he wrote:
"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.'

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s … in the spirit of ‘my will and not thine be done.’ Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.

Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.

Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them. Pride … is manifest in so many ways, such as fault-finding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, 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.

Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.

The antidote for pride is humility—meekness, submissiveness. It is the broken heart and contrite spirit. We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives" (Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 3–6; or Ensign, May 1989, 4–7).

To paraphrase Elder Marvin J. Ashton, former apostle, when others live in angry silence or vocal disgust, what a joy it is to see someone of good cheer. Instead of becoming resentful, critical, or defeated, if we can recall the Lord’s promise, ‘for I the Lord am with you,’ we will be able to face our problems with dignity and courage (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 84–85; or Ensign, May 1986, 66).

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