Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2 Nephi 9:42 -- On Puffing and Learned Foolishness

"And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them."
2 Nephi 9:42

This is an interesting verse because elsewhere in the scriptures, in many, many places (D&C 109:14, Alma 37:35, Daniel 1:17, Acts 7:22, and many others), God encourages us to learn, and to gain wisdom.  So, reading this out of context of the rest of those verses we might be tempted to think, wow, God isn't really into education so much.  But knowing that he very much IS, we can look at what God is really condemning here.  God seems to be condemning pride... being puffed up because we are richer or know more than other people.
We can't just flip a switch and become humble.  It's really hard sometimes, and unfortunately, even when we have problems with self-esteem, sometimes the problem is even greater, because we hang on to some of our accomplishments much more, believing that those things prove we have worth.  We react to feeling unworthy by comparatively showing that we are better than others.  And that's a normal reaction... but again, God asks us to be better than normal.  We need to rise above, and be examples, and learn to love other people, which is difficult--perhaps impossible--if we think that we are better than they are.
I like the phrase here that we need to consider ourselves "fools before God."  This might be a good place to start, because we're used to comparisons, and compared to God, it's pretty hard to argue that *any* of us are not foolish.  And if we realize that, then perhaps we can have some sincerity in the thought that we really, really need God's help, and that we should ask for it, which is the main point of this verse.  We're not wiser than God.  No matter how rich or knowledgeable or wise, we can't out-think him or find a better path in life than his.
And if we can get there, then maybe we can accept advice from God, and know that the people around us are also his sons and daughters, valuable in his sight, and equal to us, even though he has given us individual strengths and weaknesses.
Today, let's work on not being puffed up, and on using any advantages we have for good, to help people and not to prove our superiority.  Let's share what we have and what we know with others, and remember that they have things to teach us as well.

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