12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.
(2 Nephi 28:12-13)
To be “puffed up” is to be arrogant, to have an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance. The term brings to mind either a swollen bruise which hurts when you touch it or an overinflated balloon which is easily popped. Being puffed up makes you brittle: easily offended and easily hurt.
No wonder Nephi prophesied that, in a time when many people are puffed up, their churches would become corrupted. If you can’t bear criticism, then you will try to surround yourself with people who say what you want to hear. You won’t listen to the difficult doctrines that require you to change. You will want to be told that you’re doing fine.
And pride is not a victimless crime. Who suffers when we are “puffed up?” Those less fortunate than ourselves whom we might have helped if we looked outside of ourselves long enough to notice their needs. People whose pain we might have helped to alleviate if we weren’t so troubled by our own minor inconveniences. Nephi tells us that these proud people “rob the poor” and “persecute the meek.” When we are puffed up, we are hypersensitive to our own pain and insensitive to the pain of others.
Today, I will avoid becoming “puffed up.” I will remember that joy comes from turning outward, not inward. I will watch for signs of pride, including being easily offended, and I will intentionally look for opportunities to serve, knowing that service to those in need can reduce the “swelling” in my spirit and can help me find true joy.