Jacob, the third prophet of the Book of Mormon, warned his people of the sin of pride. Today, we tend to praise pride as a value, but never does the Book of Mormon speak of pride as a virtue. God just doesn’t see pride the way we do today. Jacob warned:
13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.
14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you. (Jacob 2)
In these verses, and in several that follow, Jacob specifically points out one danger of pride—it causes people to think they alone are responsible for the good things that come to them, and therefore, it causes them to persecute or look down on others. This means they have forgotten to praise God and give Him the credit for their blessings.
If people stop crediting God for their blessings, they see no need to live His commandments or honor Him in any way, and this, of course, leads to further sin and apostasy. This is why pride is so strongly condemned. In the Book of Mormon, we see a reoccurring pattern of obedience leading to wealth, and wealth leading to pride. It takes a strong spirit and diligence to cope well with wealth.
In 1989, Ezra Taft Benson, a former prophet of God, gave what is considered a signature talk on pride to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes nicknamed Mormons. In Beware of Pride, he explained one of the most serious dangers of pride:
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.
Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)
(See Hel. 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.
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.” Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4
We can clearly see from this explanation that pride can destroy a person’s testimony of God and his relationship with God. This is why prophets from the earliest days of Earth have counseled people against becoming prideful. Wealth, or the love of wealth, can lead to pride, but so can a love of our talents, for instance. While there is nothing wrong with being grateful for our talents—praising God for them and offering them to Him as we practice them—we must always remember where they came from and how they should be used. Our talents come from God and must be used for Him in humility.
Of course, we aren’t asked to hate ourselves. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrate that we are all children of a Heavenly King, and therefore have a bit of divinity tucked inside us. We all have gifts and talents and blessings. But it’s the knowledge that we all have them that allows us to think of them with the proper perspective and avoid the sin of pride. We are all children of God and therefore, He loves and values us all equally. When pride allows us to think we are better than other children of God, we face spiritual danger.
As President Benson, quoted above, explained, “The antidote for pride is humility—meekness, submissiveness. It is the broken heart and contrite spirit.”
Terrie Lynn Bittner
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.