Thursday, September 18, 2008

Consider the Lilies

The other day, I was reading Matt. 6.  Then in Sunday School the lesson was on Pride.  The teacher quoted President Ezra Taft Benson who said "Pride is the Universal Sin" and defined pride as enmity.  We went on to discuss how we battle pride in our lives.  This discussion immediately made me think of what I had read in Matthew.  When I went back and looked it seemed that the entire chapter was about pride.  Christ starts out on a religious theme discussing seeking "the  glory of men" (Matt 6:2) and "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (Matt 6:3).  This section seems to me to discuss the "holier than thou" attitude.  In two ways, first that we seek to convince ourselves of our piety through extravagant gestures to build up our pride and secondly that we seek to build ourselves up over others by showing off to them our devotion.  At then end of this section Christ reminds us of the greatness of God and our own insignificance saying, "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (Matt. 6:8).  He then demonstrates the proper form of a prayer.  The prayer of the Savior is very humble  asking for forgiveness and admitting the power and glory of God.  
The next poignant passage I came across was "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:19-21)  If our treasure is the things of this world, our heart will be set on pride.   "No man can serve two masters" (Matt 6:24); we cannot serve ourselves and God. 
Then Christ begins to compare us to the animals and plants.  He reminds us that our Father takes care of the sparrows and the lilies.  I loved the image when he says "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow' they toil not neither do they spin:And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6:28-29).  This made me think of art.  As artists, we love to exhault our creations, but it is true that even the greatest painting and sculptures cannot compare to that which God created.  But not only in art, we make a huge fuss over new scientific advances in machinery, but we can produce nothing which remotely compares to the complexity and effectiveness of a plant leaf.  
The final parting thoughts are "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:33).  These same words are echoed in the Book of Mormon particularly when we are talking about pride as Jacob 2.  One of Christ's messages through out the ages has been that we should forget ourselves and press forward with single to the light of God.  But to have that eye singled means we cannot be looking down from our pride-built pedestal on our fellowmen.  We must remember that we need to look up.

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