In his sermon to the people of Zarahemla, Alma asked a number of challenging questions, including the following:
Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.Alma 5:28
When Elder Kim B. Clark hears the phrase “stripped of pride,” he thinks of an experience from his youth. His mother engaged him and his siblings in a time-consuming project: refinishing their dining-room chairs. The project involved stripping paint from each of the chairs, then sanding them with increasingly fine grades of sandpaper until the paint was completely gone. Finally, they applied varnish to the hardwood chairs. Elder Clark said Alma’s question evokes in his mind the hard work and iterative effort required to remove that paint from those chairs (“Are Ye Stripped of Pride?” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 29, September 2009).
Mormon described pride as something that attaches itself to us if we are not careful:
And it came to pass that the fifty and second year ended in peace also, save it were the exceedingly great pride which had gotten into the hearts of the people; and it was because of their exceedingly great riches and their prosperity in the land; and it did grow upon them from day to day.Helaman 3:36, italics added
Elder Clark used similar imagery to describe the gradual growth of pride in our lives:
Pride and its effects are like a thin film of darkness that begins to settle on the soul layer by layer, year by year, until the light of the gospel grows dim.
No wonder that the Lord warns even the righteous to be vigilant. For example:
- In an April 1830 revelation, the Lord reassured Oliver Cowdery that he was “under no condemnation.” But He immediately added, “Beware of pride, lest thou shouldst enter into temptation” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:1).
- A few months later, the Lord spoke to Emma Smith. He called her “an elect lady,” whose sins were forgiven, but He gave her the following counsel: “Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:3, 14).
Elder Clark recommends four practices to help us detect and eliminate pride from our lives:
- “Never do anything to drive the Spirit away.” Be intentional about what you do, wear, say, read, listen to, or watch.
- “Don’t let the world get into your heart.” Keep your focus on eternal things.
- “Serve the Lord,” including accepting callings and following promptings from the Spirit.
- “Stand in holy places,” including ensuring that your home is a holy place.
Today, I will beware of pride. I will watch for signs of the accumulation of pride on my soul, and I will work to strip myself of it.