The Universal Cycle of Pride
The Book of Mormon highlights a destructive cycle that is repeated again and again. It is the universal Cycle of Pride. The Nephite nation rose and fell several times because of this pattern of righteousness, prosperity, pride, and destruction.
When the Nephites were righteous the Lord blessed them with peace and spiritual and material prosperity. When they became rich, they became proud and wicked, and they forgot the Lord. The Lord sent his prophets, to warn them, but they refused to listen. The Nephites then suffered the consequences of their sins and the judgments of God. They were forced to be humble by their adversity and afflictions. Then they repented and turned to righteousness. The Lord blessed them with peace and prosperity, and the cycle began again.
Mormon focus so much on the cycle of pride as a warning to us. After all, the Book of Mormon was written for our day. The cycle of pride spiritually destroys nations, families, and individuals.
One wonders, “Is the U.S., with its pandemic, ‘murder hornet invasion,’ riots, demonstrations, election turmoil, major fires, and weird storms, on the downward destructive side of the pride cycle.” “Has the U.S. become so proud, decadent, and alienated from God that it must be chastened?”
Keys to avoiding the destructive downturn of the pride cycle
But Mormon also gave us keys to avoiding the down side destruction of the cycle of pride.
Alma 62: 48-51
At the conclusion of the Book of Mormon “war chapters,” we read:
And the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to multiply and wax exceedingly strong again in the land. And they began to grow exceedingly rich. (v. 48)
“Oh, no!” I cringed when I read this verse. This is the beginning of the inevitable downturn in the cycle of pride. The Nephites were doomed. They were on the slippery slope to destruction. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat.”
I was relieved when the next verse began with “but notwithstanding…”
But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God; but they did humble themselves exceedingly before him. (v.49)
Yea, they did remember how great things the Lord had done for them, that he had delivered them from death, and from bonds, and from prisons, and from all manner of afflictions and he had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. (v.50)
And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to his word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land. (v. 51)
In sum, these Nephites avoided the destructive downturn of the pride cycle by:
- Being quick to remember the Lord
- Humbling themselves exceedingly
- Counting their blessings
- Remembering that the Lord is the source of all blessings
- Filling their hearts with gratitude for the Lord
- Praying continually
Helaman 13: 21-22
Mormon, and Samuel the Lamanite, give us more keys to avoiding the destructive downturn of the cycle of pride.
. . . . Ye are cursed because of your riches . . . because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you.
Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you, but ye do always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your God for them; yea, your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, unto boasting . . . envyings, strives . . . and all manner of iniquities. (Hel. 13: 21-22)
Thus, we can fortify ourselves against the cycle of pride by:
- Remembering the Lord in all things
- Remembering that the Lord is the source of our blessings
- Being grateful and remembering to thank the Lord for those blessings
- Setting our hearts on the Lord, not on our material possessions
Helaman 3: 24-25
Mormon gives us additional keys.
And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecuting of many of their brethren . . . the more humble part of the people . . .
Nevertheless, they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith on Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy . . . even to the purifying and sanctification of their hearts, which . . . cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Hel. 3: 24-25)
These people avoided the cycle of pride by:
- Fasting and praying often
- Increasing their humility
- Strengthening their faith in Christ
- Purifying and sanctifying their hearts by yielding their hearts unto God
May the Lord bless us as a nation and as individuals, to heed the counsel of Mormon, and fortify our nation, our families, and ourselves against the downturn and destruction of the universal Cycle of Pride.