It is written, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. Matthew 12:29 (Inspired Version). One can deduce that the actions of our lives reveals what is in our hearts.
I’m continually amazed when reading the Gospel of Luke the 22nd chapter verse 32 at our Lords comments to Simon(Peter), “…and when you are converted strengthen your brethren.” Jesus, speaking to Simon, is giving the distinct impression that Simon, the Apostle Peter, was not yet converted! Are we?
It becomes obvious to me when observing the church in general today, and not specifically individuals, that we are lacking, falling short, of the call to establish Zion. D&C 140:5c* “…Zionic conditions are no further away nor any closer than the spiritual condition of my people justifies; but my word shall not fail, neither will my promises, for the foundation of the Lord standeth sure”.
It is the “spiritual condition” of our daily lives that comes into question. It is not the face that we put on that we want others to see, but the condition of our hearts. 4th Nephi 1:3-4* sets the tone, so to speak, and our common hope, “…the people were all converted to the Lord upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man dealt justly one with another. And they had all things common among them, therefore they were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free and partakers of the heavenly gift.”
The first part of Joseph’s message to the people is a call to repentance. The first objective is to identify, specifically, what it is that needs to be repented of! One cannot repent without knowing the offense. I suggest that the first order of business is to recognize that our biggest culprit (sin) is pride as evidenced by the fruit that it has borne. Let us look at scripture that deals with this very important aspect.
Contention and dissention permeates the atmosphere of the Restoration Movement.
Helaman 2:1, “…there was no contention among the people…save it were a little pride which was in the church, which caused…dissensions among the people.”
The beginning of the breakdown of the church was evidenced by the entrance of pride. The seeds of the fruit thereof having been planted.
Helaman 2:29, “…there was peace also, save for the pride which began to enter into the church-not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God-and some were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of their brethren. Now this (pride) was a great evil…pride which had gotten into the hearts of the people…and it grew…”
The stalled progress of the Restoration, and the wide spread division of the same is evidence of the enemy at work. We have lost territory. We are losing our children, baptizing few new converts, witnessing fewer “miracles”, just look around most congregations.
1Nephi 3:220 states, “Behold, there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil.” There is no pride found in the Church of God, and if it is found in us then we are not members!
Alma 2:13, “…they began to be scornful, one toward another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.” As a result, “There were envyings and strife, and malice, and persecutions and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God.”
Alma 2:17-18, “…and the wickedness of the church (the pride found therein and the fruit) was a great stumbling block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress… the example of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another…”.
Alma 2:19, “Alma saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride…
- Despising others
- turning their backs upon the needy, naked, hungry, thirsty, sick and afflicted.
We have lost territory due to dissention and collusion, even unconsciously, with the enemy…why?
Helaman 2:44-45 “Now this great loss of the Nephites and the great slaughter which was among them would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness (pride) and their abomination which was among them; and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God. And it was because of the pride of their hearts” and the fruit which pride fosters…
- exceeding riches (even the poorest among us are rich compared to many places in the world) Remember, “he who has eternal life is rich” (D&C 6:3c).
- oppression of the poor; withholding their food from the hungry, their clothing from the naked; smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek; making a mock of that which was sacred; denying the spirit of prophecy and revelation; murdering’s, plundering’s, lying, stealing, committing adultery; rising up in great contentions (sound familiar?)
Are we professing to belong to the church when we have unholy attributes contaminating our lives?
Helaman 2:46, “And because of this…they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper…” Note: is the church prospering? If not then we are operating out of our own strength…
2:47 “Moronihah preached to the people…many things…concerning their iniquities…”
2:55-57 “…..they saw that they had been a stiff-necked people… they saw that their laws had become corrupted”
2:58-59 “…..because of their iniquity (pride) the church began to dwindle…..the Spirit of the Lord no more preserved them because the Spirit of the Lord does not dwell in unholy temples.”
2:106 “What shall we do that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?” …we must repent of our pride “…and when you do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed….”
Helaman 3:29, “Woe shall come to you because of that pride which you have suffered to enter your hearts, which has lifted you up…”
Helaman 4:53,56, “Oh, how foolish, and how vain, and how evil and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good…how quick to be lifted up in pride”
3 Nephi 3:17 “Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this: Satan had great power, even to the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride… Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who has created them, should rule and reign over them…they will not that he should be their guide.”
Mormon 4:49 “And your churches, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts…”
That is scary! Every one? I believe that that is cause enough to ask God to reveal in us any roots of pride.
The vision recorded in 1 Nephi speaks about a great and spacious building. That building was identified, in verse 93, as pride…
2 Nephi 11 speaks about secret combinations. I would go so far as to suggest that pride is one of the elements of secret combinations.
2 Nephi 12:14-16, 18-21 “…because of pride…their churches have become corrupted…because of pride they are puffed up… because of pride…they have all gone astray, save it be a few who are the humble followers of Christ. O, the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts…Woe, woe, woe be to them, for they shall be thrust down to hell. Woe to them that turn aside the just for a thing of naugth, and revile against that which is good, and say it is of no worth… they shall perish. But, behold, if…they shall repent…they shall not be destroyed.”
Jacob 2:21,25,26 “…let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls. I have spoken to you concerning pride, do you not suppose that such things are abominable to him who created all flesh?”
Alma 3:50-51, “Behold, are you stripped of pride? I say to you, if you are not, you are not prepared to meet God. Behold, you must prepare quickly, for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such a one has not eternal life.”
Alma 10:107-109, “…Amulek had forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things…for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends, and also his father and kindred. And Alma, after having established the church…saw that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts and began to humble themselves before God…watching and praying continually that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death and from destruction.
Alma 18:14, “See that you are not lifted up to pride, see that you do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength; use boldness, but not overbearance. And also see that you bridle all your passions that you may be filled with love.”
Alma 2:26-29, “…preach the word of God to them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness, and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were bearing down in pure testimony against them.”
Alma 29:54-55 “Helaman took upon him again to preach to the people the word of God; for, because of so many wars and contentions, it had become expedient that a regulation should be made again in the church. Therefore, Helaman and his brethren went forth and declared the word of God with much power to the convincing many people of their wickedness (pride), which caused them to repent of their sins…”.
Helaman 5:122, “…the greater part of the people remaining in their pride and wickedness, and the lesser part walking more circumspectly before God.”
That can be real hard to swallow… is it I Lord?
Moroni 8:31, “Behold, the pride of this nation…has proved their destruction, except they should repent…”
Is our conversion complete or is there still work to do? Are there vestiges of pride within our lives? How would we go about identifying it? We need not fear the revelation of pride in our lives. God is using that to reveal what is in our hearts and calling us to humble ourselves before Him and repent of this vicious evil that threatens our destiny.
Pride is a subtle characteristic disguising itself in any number of ways. Yet the fruit of pride will reveal itself eventually. One must remember that fruit takes time to mature before it is fully ripe. An apple picked and eaten before its time will taste sour and perhaps even cause one to feel ill. Mark 4:22, “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”
In our interactions with each other do we take the time, and have the patience, to hear, with our hearts, what the other is seeking to convey before passing judgement? Perhaps it would take several face to face meetings listening rather than standing afar off and criticizing. On our part we need to be cautious about putting God in a box. Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Patterns are important. However, do we see the whole pattern of God or only a portion. A pattern for a dress, for instance, has several different parts. One for the sleeves another, for the bodice etc. Yet it takes putting all these together to view the finished product. So too, the body of Christ is made up of many parts, but only one head. Each part has its own pattern but put together by God forms the body of Christ.
Job 35:12, “There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of pride…”
Psalms 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God….”
Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate.”
Proverbs 13:10, “Only by pride cometh contention…”
Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride shall bring him low; but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride….”
Obadiah 3, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee…”
Many are the scriptures that reveal to us what pride looks like and the results of embracing the same, even subconsciously.
The initial call is to repentance, that we can do now without waiting on anything else. Open our eyes Lord that we may see …
Psalms 51:10-12, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit.”
* references will be taken from the 1966 version of the RLDS Book of Mormon scripture unless otherwise noted as well as the Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures.