Monday, November 15, 2010

I think above all weeks I have ever lived in my life, this past one is the one I am eternally grateful for. I had so many growing experiences, my life has altered. I don't even feel like the same person. I would like to share one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned and with of lack of time, I hope I do it justice. I cannot include all that has happened, although I will share one thing I’ve learned. Hopefully I will have more time next week to catch you up on the other neat lessons I’ve learned.
The more I learn about the plan of salvation, the more I understand my purpose here on Earth. I know that I am here on Earth to progress. (I included a little portion on E.Bednars talk Things as They Really Are. Hopefully it will help you all remember our divine destiny, like it once helped me.) I’m here on Earth to refine my weaknesses and become more like my brother, Jesus Christ. I’ve been studying Christ-like attributes, and striving to adapt them. I would now like to share with you what I’ve learned about Humility. I don’t think I ever fully understood the definition of Pride. Sorry to include a lot of bits from talks, but I was searching for more information on pride, and ran across a talk Ezra Taft Benson gave, that seriously struck me in the heart. I would like to include it, so we can understand a prophetic definition of pride.

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. (See Mosiah 3:11; 3 Ne. 6:18.) In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby. (See 2 Ne. 4:15; Mosiah 1:3–7; Alma 5:61.)Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing. The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.
Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled. (See Alma 38:12; 3 Ne. 12:30.)The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives. (See Hel. 12:6.) They pit their perceptions of truth against God’s great knowledge, their abilities versus God’s priesthood power, their accomplishments against His mighty works.Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.
Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them. (See Hel. 6:17; D&C 58:41.)The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)

After I read this, I soon realized the big green pride monster inside myself. . That line that Ezra Taft Benson said made a deep impression on me. “It’s the comparing that makes you proud” Coming from a progressing country, and being in the Philippines, it is extremely easy to start comparing the culture differences. To compare ‘opinions and intellects’ is a sign of enmity.
Let me first explain what got me comparing opinions and intellects. Ever week I listen to odd things, I’ll share some that has happened recently. I often have to answer questions like ‘Will Jesus will save all the elves, gnomes, dwarfs, witches, sorcerers in the world?’ Or if I start coughing people tell me I have Pasma, (superstitious disease) that happens when you get wet when you’re tired or when you eat hot and cold food. Or when people ask me if I’m scared of the abominable Snow Man, because he lives in America, and heard about him, and are scared for me. Oh or other day my investigators found a baby fetus in their yard. My first thoughts were abortion. Their first thoughts, there must be a ghost in town. (sorry for the morbid example, but it shows the differences in our thinking patterns.)
I absolutely love their outlook on life, and it definitely keeps me entertained. Although when I hear things daily like that, I started to yearn for logical facts. I slowly saw enmity taking place in myself. Little by little I began separating myself from the Filipinos. I started thinking things like ‘I’ll trust the American Doctors advice, rather than the Filipino Doctor.’ I was putting our resources above theirs. All I was doing is diminishing their intelligence. Comparing makes one better than the other. I have sinned in ignorance countless times. I realize now that if I become humble, I’ll be more understanding. In any situation things are just okay. I don’t have to have the right thinking process, and I don’t need to be right. Even if I really think that fetus came from a human being, I don’t have to prove anything. (I actually can start liking their thinking process better. Who wants to believe a mother would do that anyway?) Humility is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of spiritual strength. My pride has been more of an internal thought process, but I’m determined to remove it so that I can just love unconditionally. I cannot express my gratitude enough for my calling here in the Philippines. I am yet again learning another lesson just by getting to know the Filipino Culture, and I’m determined to perfect my pride.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles declare that as spirit sons and daughters of God, we “accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize [our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.”1 Please note the primary importance of obtaining a physical body in the process of progressing toward our divine destiny.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught with clarity the importance of our physical bodies:
“We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. …
“The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”

2 Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught, “Our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character.”3 Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the classroom of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6; Alma 7:12–13).

Apostles and prophets consistently have taught the mortal and eternal importance of our bodies. Paul declared:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

And in this dispensation the Lord revealed that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15). A truth that really is and always will be is that the body and the spirit constitute our reality and identity. When body and spirit are inseparably connected, we can receive a fullness of joy; when they are separated, we cannot receive a fullness of joy (see D&C 93:33–34).
The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him with resurrected, exalted bodies. Lucifer labors to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to hinder their eternal progression. The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27), and he works to distort the elements of the Father’s plan he hates the most.
Satan does not have a body, and his eternal progress has been halted. Just as water flowing in a riverbed is stopped by a dam, so the adversary’s eternal progress is thwarted because he does not have a physical body. Because of his rebellion, Lucifer has denied himself all of the mortal blessings and experiences made possible through a tabernacle of flesh and bones. He cannot learn the lessons that only an embodied spirit can learn. He cannot marry or enjoy the blessings of procreation and family life. He cannot abide the reality of a literal and universal resurrection of all mankind. One of the potent scriptural meanings of the word damned is illustrated in his inability to continue developing and becoming like our Heavenly Father.

Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, we should not be surprised that Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. One of the ultimate ironies of eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely because he has no physical body, invites and entices us to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not have and cannot use is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to physical and spiritual destruction.

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