Scripture Sunday

Contention – Nobody Got Time For That!

“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” Mosiah 18:21

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I’ve been thinking about and pondering this scripture for a couple of days.

General Conference is approaching.  I could imagine that if Alma were to speak to us today he may be saying the exact same words.  Avoid contention!

I read today that someone did some study that asking contending parties about their feelings concerning their opposition.  No surprise, both parties felt that they were in the right, more compassionate, more fiscally responsible, and more civilly responsible.  Both parties felt that the opposition was driven by hatred and ill will.  All this contention in our communities and the world is getting out of control.

There are certain sections of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” that I don’t agree with fundamentally, yet other sections I want to sing loudly from the roof tops! I do believe in a heaven and a hell.  But I also believe that God wants people to extend mercy to others.  I believe that He wants wants us all to be kind and to be generous.  “Imagine all the people living for today.”  Imagine we all lived as present people, in the moment, aware of the needs of others.  I don’t believe that God or religion are reasons to kill , hurt or ridicule others.  That is not who my God is and it is not what He does!

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The Adversary, on the other hand, does want to distract us from our faith.  He is miserable and wants as many people as possible to be miserable right alongside him.  If he can get people to stop loving each other, to think inward, to focus on our own pride, and then to contend with each other, it is easier for him to divide us and unity is lost.  If Satan can succeed in creating within us a habit of arguing, fighting, and contention, it is easier for him to bind us with heavier sins that can destroy us eternally!  The root of the issue is pride.

Only by pride cometh contention.” (Proverbs 13:10)

How do you go about avoiding contention?

Elder Marvin J Ashton taught in 1978 these 5 suggestions:

  1. Pray to have the love of God in your heart. Sometimes this is a struggle, but the Spirit of the Lord can soften hard feelings and mellow a callous spirit.
  2. Learn to control your tongue. There is an old maxim and an excellent one: “Think twice before you speak and three times before you act.”
  3. Don’t allow emotions to take over; rather, reason together.
  4. Refuse to get embroiled in the same old patterns of argument and confrontation.
  5. Practice speaking in a soft, calm voice. The peaceful life can best be attained not by those who speak with a voice of “great tumultuous noise” but by those who follow the Savior’s example and speak with “a still voice of perfect mildness.” ( 5:30.)
Click here to read the Elder Marvin J Ashton article.
These suggestions lead to this commandment:
“Love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Jesus is all about LOVE!  The second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:39).  Jesus taught, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).
President Thomas S Monson taught, “love is the very essence of gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar.  His life was a legacy of love.”
Remember: the devil is the “father of contention;” The Savior is the Prince of Peace.
Even in my efforts to avoid contention I must also remember not to compromise values and not to dilute my commitment to the truths I have come to understand.
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I think my best example of how to meet the voices of contention is found in the story of when the Savior’s adversaries confronted Him about a woman “taken in adultery” (John 8:4).  Jesus did not fight.  He was calm.  He asked questions.  The accusers were ashamed of their own hypocrisy and withdrew themselves.  Jesus was left alone with the woman.  He treated her with kindness.  Her mistakes were not erased.  Jesus did not condemn her.  He firmly stated that her sinful behavior should stop.  But remember, He was kind.
I believe Jesus wants to be examples of civility.  I think He wants us to love all people, be good listeners and to show concern for others regardless of their beliefs.
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

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I feel a sense of urgency.  “There is no time for contention.”  I like to dream of a world of peace, a world where all people followed the example of kindness that the Savior of the World gave us.  I like to dream of a world where we are all persons of goodwill to all men, where all people reject persecution of any kind for any reason.  The commandment to love one another should include respect for others, crossing religious lines, races, cultures, and economic lines.  The commandment to love and to avoid contention includes avoiding bullying, insults, revenge or anything that might hurt others.
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For the past 95 days I have worked hard at avoiding contention, noticing the needs of others, being kind, and being the light that God expects me to be.  I don’t think I have really made much of a difference in the world, but I do know that I have made a difference within my own heart.
I wonder what the next 95 days will be like.  surely, “I’m not the only one.”
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5 thoughts on “Contention – Nobody Got Time For That!”

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