Friday, May 14, 2021

President Harold B. Lee on being poor in spirit

President Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"'Blessed are the poor in spirit...' 
"To be poor in spirit is to feel yourselves as the spiritually needy, ever dependent upon the Lord for your clothes, and your food and the air you breathe, your health, your life; realizing that no day should pass without fervent prayer of thanksgiving, for guidance and forgiveness and strength sufficient for each day's need.... 
"It is indeed a sad thing for one, because of wealth or learning or worldly position, to think himself independent of this spiritual need.  It is the opposite of pride or self-conceit.  To the worldly rich it is that 'he must possess his wealth as if he possessed it not,' and be willing to say without regret, if he were suddenly to meet financial disaster, as did Job, 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord.' Thus, if in your humility you sense your spiritual need, you are made ready for adoption into the 'Church of the First Born, and to become the elect of God.'" 
- Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living pp. 57-58 or Stand Ye in Holy Places (1974), 343-4

President Lee discussed the Savior's Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) as "the constitution for a perfect life," and began with this explanation about being "poor in spirit." He points out that true humility, acknowledging our complete dependence on the Lord, is what ultimately leads us to the greatest blessings.

His remarks fit particularly well with the version of the Beatitudes from the Book of Mormon, which says, "Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (3 Nephi 12:3, emphasis added). The key is how we respond to the challenges of life, and true humility leads us to the source of all that truly matters.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 10, 2015

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