The Savior warned us of how difficult pride can be to root out in ourselves in his Sermon on the Mount.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
Why is it so much easier for us to see the faults of others, while looking past or even completely missing our own? President Ezra Taft Benson, the thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the “Mormons“), explained some things about pride in a landmark address he gave in 1989:
[A] 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.
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: “: 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, quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989)
You know, as I go about my own day, I’m not sure I would usually think of myself as feeling “enmity” – another word for it might be hostility – towards people like that. But if I really pay attention to my own thoughts as they flip through my head, the very things that President Benson mentions happen all the time. As I drive by a house that’s smaller than mine, I might think briefly, “That’s a small house. Mine is bigger.” If I see someone dressed immodestly in the store, the thought might pass through my head that “I’m doing a better job at being modest than she is.” Even if I see some celebrity featured on a magazine cover who seems to be dripping with pride in his or her own accomplishments, I might think, “Well, at least I’m not as prideful as they are.”
Pride can be very difficult to recognize in yourself. Even when you think you’ve overcome it, the minute you start feeling proud of yourself for it you’re headed back where you started. Heeding the words of our modern-day prophets can help us overcome sins such as pride. They are inspired of God to bring to our attention those things that we as a people need most.
President Benson told us how to conquer pride. “The antidote for pride is humility — meekness, submissiveness. It is the broken heart and contrite spirit.” Among those suggestions he made after this statement are to humble ourselves by forgiving others, by striving to do as the Lord would have us do, and by serving and lifting others.
We are truly blessed to have a living prophet on the earth today