Monday, February 18, 2019

President Ezra Taft Benson on characteristics of humility

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"Pride is characterized by 'What do I want out of life?' rather than by 'What would God have me do with my life?' It is self-will as opposed to God’s will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God.
"Humility responds to God’s will—to the fear of His judgments and the needs of those around us. To the proud, the applause of the world rings in their ears; to the humble, the applause of heaven warms their hearts.
"Someone has said, 'Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.' Of one brother, the Lord said, 'I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me.' (D&C 58:41.)
"The two groups in the Book of Mormon that seemed to have the greatest difficulty with pride are the 'learned, and the rich.' (2 Ne. 28:15.) But the word of God can pull down pride. (See Alma 4:19.)
"With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Cleansing the Inner Vessel," General Conference, April 1986
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We often ask ourselves the question President Benson shares here: "What do I want out of life?" But he suggests a more profound question is, "What would God have me do with my life?" It's a good reminder that He is willing to help and guide us in all things, as we are willing to turn to Him in humility. There are some great keys in understanding where we find our motivation, our desire for approbation:

The Book of Mormon warns us about being learned and rich. Both of those are relative terms; the standard of learning, and the standard of wealth, in which most of us today find ourselves far exceeds both those of times past and so many who live in our world today. If I then, am learned and wise, how cautious I should be about the pride that too often accompanies those conditions!

The thoughts in this earlier talk were expanded three years later in the more familiar discourse "Beware of Pride" (General Conference April 1989).

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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