Pride Comes Before A Fall

I cancelled the piano tuner. It may not sound like much, but it was almost traumatic. He comes every six months to tune our ancient piano, and he charges £40 for doing so. But with the recession even reaching his usual workplaces of Russia and Azerbaijan, Hubby Dearest hasn’t had any work since November, so we are having to tighten our belts. That means luxuries like piano tuning, have to go.

Actually I’m tone deaf and wouldn’t know whether or not the piano is in tune. In fact, for all I know, the piano tuner could has been scamming me for years and laughing quietly to himself when I declared “That sounds so much better!” and handed over the cash equivalent of half our weekly food budget. But even so, it was very difficult for me to phone him up and ask him not to come next month, as scheduled, because we couldn’t afford to pay for it.

Whilst it’s easier to admit to the necessity of such cutbacks when everyone is in the same boat, it is never easy to tell others that things are difficult. Especially when those people also need to come up with cash for their weekly food budget. I was quite pleased to have to deliver the message to the answering machine rather than the man in person. (And if he has indeed been scamming me for years, it serves him right.)

C.S. Lewis once said: “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.” In other words, the only reason it was difficult for me to tell the piano tuner’s answering machine that I couldn’t afford to pay him his fee was because I somehow considered it important to be seen by him as someone who had plenty of money to splash around on luxuries like a tuneful piano. And now I think about it, that is about the crux of it.

About three years ago our Ward Choir was conducted by an incredibly talented Sister called Holly Carter. She knew all about proper warm-up exercises, harmonies, everything - she could evne tell when someone was singing out of tune! My eldest daughter loved singing in her choir especially when they performed the most amazing and complex piece absolutely perfectly for Stake Conference. I sought out Sister Carter afterwards and told her how proud she must feel.

"No," she replied. "I refuse to feel pride." And she directed me to a talk given by President Ezra Taft Benson in April 1989 by way of explaination. I am ashamed to say that I didn't read it then. Since then, several other people have referred to in in Sacrament talks and just general conversation, but I didn't read it.

Today I read it and it is as powerfiul as I suspected it would be. In a nutshell, President Benson tells us that pride is a sin. The entire message of the scriptures is that pride in oneself leads to destruction, and humility and repentance leads to eternal life. There is no such thing as "righteous pride" because pride is about trying to be better than others, and wanting to impress man rather than serve God. Pride destroys relationships, causes offence, prevents forgiveness, and is ugly.

I hope that my out-of-tune piano will serve to remind me of the dangers of pride for years to come.


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