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Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Lesson 18: Beware of Pride

Pride is the hallmark character trait of Satan. It motivates and inspires all he does and guides his actions. Humility, the only antidote to pride, is the hallmark character trait of Christ. It motivates and inspires all he does and guides his actions. In this lesson President Benson reviews the dangers of pride and warns us to steer clear of its damaging influence.

Definition of pride

“Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s.” This means that one who is proud allows their appetites to run wild in defiance of God’s commandment to bridle them and bring our bodies under our spirit’s control. If we are proud we seek our will and not our Father’s. We seek only our own pleasure.

Pride seeks to justify self. All things, emotions, behaviors, and attitudes are focused through the lens of a core hatred of God. All other character traits that go with that hatred of what God stands for make up a description of one who is proud. One who hates God is self-centered, conceited, boastful, arrogant, and haughty. “In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride–it is always considered a sin.” There are precious few of us in mortality who don’t struggle with at least a few of the aspects of pride.

For example, the proud resist listening to God’s definition of truth. They argue His laws and commandments, seeking to justify their own behavior. How many of us have eating habits that are out of control, yet we seek to justify or minimize our lack of control for this appetite? I could have brought up any one of a number of appetites, but this is one I struggle with.

The proud will not believe, even if shown signs and wonders. Their personal accomplishments and the perceptions and accolades of men are more important than the works and opinions of God.

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.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)

A proud person fears the judgments of men more than the judgments of God. They live with hardened hearts and stiff necks. They are not easily touched by, nor are they easily lead by the Spirit. They are resolute and stubborn in their adherence to their sins. We see this more and more as people begin to publicly question the Lord’s anointed and try to tell the prophet of the Lord how to run the Church.

Here are fifteen more characteristics or manifestations of pride:

1.The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction in their lives.
2.“The proud wish God would agree with them. They are not interested in changing their opinions to align with what God teaches.”
3.They are easily offended.
4.The proud seek to elevate themselves above others, and seek to diminish the stature of others.
5.The proud are jealous of others.
6.“It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.”
7.Disobedience
8.“A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him. He thinks this lowers his position.”
9.Selfishness
10.Secret Combinations. By definition these combinations are made to get gain and power over another.
11.Contention, which includes spouse abuse, unrighteous dominion, riots, and divorce. (Now there is a topic for a lively discussion.)
12.They withhold forgiveness. Technically, I have already mentioned this one, but it is important to note that the refusal to forgive is a sign of being proud.
13.They are defensive and rationalize “their frailties and failures.”
14.Their self-esteem comes from the opinion of others. President Benson said:
Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.”
15.It poisons our relationships.

Damning sin

Just as a dam stops water from flowing or moving forward, pride damns us or stops us from progressing. To progress in spiritual matters we must be able to take correction and direction from God. We have to be willing to forgive, to love others, to support others, to obey in all things. Pride prevents all those things from happening, thus stopping us in our eternal progression and consigning us to a state of misery. Progression brings happiness, damnation brings sorrow; that is just the way the eternal laws work.

Pride ruins our relationships with our spouse and children. It prevents us from finding joy in other’s accomplishments. Pride separates us from God, because we are too busy fighting or resisting Him to feel connected to Him like a son or daughter ought to feel. Pride prevents us from fully experiencing the blessings of Christ’s gospel message. For us to experience that joy we must learn to submit to His will, and have faith in His promises. We must learn to recognize our limitations, and how His greatness can overcome those limitations.

Humility

God can force us to be humble, and he will humble the wicked someday, but the real blessings come when we choose to be humble. He prefers us to choose humility, for then the blessings of God can flow freely in our lives. Look at the list of the manifestations of pride. We can think of examples for every one of those manifestations. Now take pencil and paper and list the opposites of all those manifestations. You will have the list of the manifestations of the humble and contrite followers of Christ.

The humble seek to do God’s will. Their self-esteem is based on God’s opinion of them as His child. They seek only to please Him. They forgive easily, are peacemakers, and take correction and direction with gratitude in their hearts for the love that directed the Lord to give the correction and direction. Those who are humble build healthy relationships, seek the welfare of those around them, respect the agency of others, and honor their parents, spouse, and priesthood leaders. They listen to all the words of life given in the scriptures and seek to apply them in their daily living.

We are all tainted by some degree of pride. Some of us may have more manifestations of pride than others, but we don’t have to continue to live with pride. We can choose humility, the virtue that makes Christ the man he is. We can become meek and submissive to God’s laws, which will bring us happiness and joy. Humility truly is the antidote to all the ills that pride brings into our lives. Which path will you choose this week?

Kelly likes to keep the gospel simple. For more of his articles and lesson helps go to his website, http://mormonbasics.com.

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