14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
(2 Nephi 28:14)
What does it mean to “wear stiff necks and high heads?” This phrase only appears one other place in the scriptures. Jacob uses it as he warns his people about pride: “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” (Jacob 2:13).
The phrase seems to describe people who are so concerned about appearances that they fail to respond to the suffering of the poor and needy among them. Their obsession with impressing other people dominates their thoughts and leads them to neglect and even to harm people who are less fortunate. They are like the daughters of Zion described by Isaiah who “walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet” (2 Nephi 13:16, Isaiah 3:16). Sounds harmless enough, but in the prior verse, Isaiah asks them to explain why they “beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor” (2 Nephi 13:15, Isaiah 3:15). It doesn’t sound like they are intentionally harming others, but they are spending so much time and energy trying to impress others that they don’t recognize the harm they are doing.
Today I will pay more attention to the needs of the people around me and focus less on what other people may think of me. I will remember that an obsessive concern about appearances will distract me from doing what I can for the people who actually need my help.