“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” – Jesus the Christ. (Note 1)
Matthew quoted Jesus as asking that question as part of the famous “Sermon on the Mount” discourse.
A few of those words are not common to our language today.
A cubit is a measurement of length among the Hebrews. Originally it was the distance from the elbow to the tip of the fingers, but of course, that varied depending on the person doing the measuring. The length was standardized, and was about 21 and 1/2 inches (about 54.6 centimeters) in time of our Lord. (Note 2)
The word stature can be defined two different ways. 1. A person’s natural height. 2. Importance or reputation gained by ability or achievement. Jesus was using a word play on both definitions. The physical height could be seen by others, but he used that as a visual representation of the glory or honor felt. (Note 3)
So Jesus’ lesson was that because you think yourself great doesn’t make you taller or wiser or better.
Quoting from a favorite speaker of mine, Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Note 4):
“Every mortal has at least a casual if not intimate relationship with the sin of pride. No one has avoided it; few overcome it.”
“At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with ‘Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,’ it always seems to end with ‘Therefore, I am better than you.'”
He was speaking to his most trusted disciples at this time. These were the ones that had followed him up the mountainside, and among them were the future men to be picked as apostles, seventy, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists – leaders for the Christian church and organization that was now forming. Men like Peter, John, and Matthew. Through their writing, preaching, and miracles that they would soon perform in the name of the Lord, these were men who were shortly going to become famous in their leadership role.
What he said to them was “Don’t let fame or power go to your head, boys.”
As the Savior always did, he was reminding us that to our Heavenly Father goes the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. He might add measure to us, be we should remain humble and not presume that elevate ourselves. (Note 5)
1 Matthew 6:27 http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/6.27?lang=eng#26
2 Bible Dictionary: Cubit. http://lds.org/scriptures/bd/cubit?lang=eng&letter=c
3 Google Dictionary: Stature http://www.google.com/dictionary?q=stature&langpair=en|en&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Ne1wTavmPN2alQehmrCiAw&ved=0CCUQmwMoAA
4 Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Pride and the Priesthood,” October 2, 2010: http://lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/pride-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng
5 See the way the Lord addresses His Father in Matthew 6:13. http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/6.13?lang=eng#12