A surpassing gift

Though it costs nothing, it will save us money. It will add to our friendships and perhaps retrieve lost friends and family members. It will lower our anxiety levels and allow us to concentrate more fully. With it, we become more teachable, more easily entreated, more open to change and improvement. It helps us forgive those who have wronged us, intentionally or accidentally. It makes us more Godlike, for why should we remember to our detriment things we have forgiven?

It will strengthen us immeasurably.

We will seek to overcome our own flesh instead of dwelling on the weaknesses of those around us. It will allow us to seek excellence with more dedication as we compete against ourselves instead of others. In the broadest sense, it flattens our horizons; we see a broader view of reality that we will "know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

With all these attributes, this most valuable fare is available in such huge servings that it might be hard to swallow.

So what is it we speak of? It is humility, a surpassing gift of God. Sometimes called "humble pie," it is a diet without calories that can be eaten for spiritual nutrition at breakfast, lunch and dinner. A decision to be more humble takes but an instant but opens a new lifetime path.

We can, as Alma 7:23 suggests: "be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."

We expect those in the celestial kingdom to be like this, don't we? Humility allows us to see the hand of the Lord in our lives instead of taking personal credit for every accomplishment. With it we rejoice in, and find secret ways to support, the successes of those around us.

Let us leave this pleasant scene now to look at the opposite of humility: pride. What is pride? It is enmity to God, enmity to man. It is hatred, a state of opposition. It is what turned Lucifer, Son of the Morning, into Satan, rejecting the Father's plan, and placing him in direct and eternal opposition to the Father. It is that enmity with which he wishes to reign and rule over us — with which to enslave us.

It is sometimes called the Nephite disease but is, unfortunately, a disease far more widespread than of that defunct nation.

A manifestation of the "natural man" (see Mosiah 3:19), pride is the foundation of undue competition. Comparisons make us proud. Walking in the pride of his or her eyes turns every man or woman into an adversary, making one hard-hearted, unteachable, ungovernable. Pride nurtures rebellion. The proud don't want God to rule over them. They resent the successes of others. Like King Noah of the Book of Mormon, they would rather save face than save their own souls. When mixed with fear, pride can and does breed violence.

Pride fills the crevices of the heart, dividing husbands and wives, families, neighbors, counties, states and nations. It creates glass ceilings that prevent spiritual and emotional maturity and nurses revenge and addiction. Pride can recruit those who have more to believe they are better. It taints some who have less to feel resentment; sometimes the poor are more prideful than the rich. Pride nurses the roots of racism and class and counterfeits self-esteem to our hurt.

Pride defines with warlike aggression the boundaries of turf. It seeks attention and recognition. Fine sanctuaries of the rich "grind the faces of the poor." Humility includes others; pride excludes others. In its ultimate manifestations, pride leads to slavery while humility leads to added confidence and freedom.

One of the main messages of the Book of Mormon is to relinquish pride. The spacious building of Lehi's dream represents the pride of the world. The Book of Mormon's index entry to the word "pride" has a dozen other related entries. Not one of these has anything positive to say about pride. One supposes that over the many millennia, Heavenly Father looks down on the often pitiful behavior of the proud, patiently succoring His little ones who suffer so often at the expense of this form of sin.

But His patience will not last forever. So how does the Lord deal with pride? At His Second Coming, say the prophets, "the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble" (Malachi 4:1).

Shall we not anticipate the Judgment Day by humbling ourselves now? During our morning prayers, let us indeed discipline our diet by swallowing our daily pride. Let us guard all day against letting it lurk into the silent fractures of our hearts, which should rather be filled by the healing love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

At this difficult time in the world, a humble people will be of mighty service to the Lord in ways the world will never know.

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