The Greek word phusioo (φυσιόω) means “to puff or blow up.” It comes from the word phusa which means “bellows.” Some form of the word appears five times in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians and once in his epistle to the Colossians. In the King James Version of the Bible, it is always translated as “puffed up.” Other translations use words like “arrogant” or “boastful. One translation uses the phrase “inflated with pride.” (See, for example, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 18, 19 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)
The phrase “puffed up” appears nine times in the Book of Mormon, always in reference to pride.
- People are puffed up because of their learning, their wisdom, or their riches (2 Nephi 9:42, 2 Nephi 28:15). They are puffed up because of their fine clothing (2 Nephi 28:13, Alma 5:53). They are puffed up because of the vain things of the world (Alma 5:37, Alma 31:27).
- Because they are puffed up, they teach false and foolish doctrines (2 Nephi 28:9, 12). They persecute other people (Alma 5:53-54). They go astray and refuse to listen to the Savior’s voice (Alma 5:37).
- People who have charity are not puffed up. Therefore, they are not selfish or envious, and they are not easily offended (Moroni 7:45, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
We don’t commonly use the term “puffed up” in modern English, but we have expressions with similar imagery: being full of oneself, having a big head, or being too big for one’s boots.
Today, I will be careful not to become “puffed up.” I will recognize that accomplishments can easily go to my head and distort my view of reality. I will remember that this distortion will lead to inappropriate behavior if it is not removed. I will remember that being puffed up is inconsistent with charity, unselfishness, and peace.