All of us know people who are filled with hatred and anger and who are unforgiving, lose their temper often and hurt others to get what they want.  On the other hand we also know people who are kind, thoughtful, loving and peaceful.  If we are inclined toward to the first group, how can we change our natural tendency to be contentious, angry and selfish to that of a peacemaker filled with love?

I was impressed with President Russell M. Nelson’s Remarks

He was a renowned surgeon and now president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He said, “During my surgical internship many years ago, I assisted a surgeon who was amputating a leg filled with highly infectious gangrene. The operation was difficult. Then, to add to the tension, one of the team performed a task poorly, and the surgeon erupted in anger. In the middle of his tantrum, he threw his scalpel loaded with germs. It landed in my forearm!

Everyone in the operating room—except the out-of-control surgeon—was horrified by this dangerous breach of surgical practice. Gratefully, I did not become infected. But this experience left a lasting impression on me. In that very hour, I promised myself that whatever happened in my operating room, I would never lose control of my emotions. I also vowed that day never to throw anything in anger—whether it be scalpels or words.

Even now, decades later, I find myself wondering if the contaminated scalpel that landed in my arm was any more toxic than the venomous contention that infects our civic dialogue and too many personal relationships today.

I am greatly concerned that so many people seem to believe that it is completely acceptable to condemn, malign, and vilify anyone who does not agree with them. Many seem eager to damage another’s reputation with pathetic and pithy barbs!  We hear of those who belittle their spouses and children, of those who use angry outbursts to control others, and of those who punish family members with the “silent treatment.” We hear of youth and children who bully and of employees who defame their colleagues.  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be examples of how to interact with others—especially when we have differences of opinion. One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people.

Before His death, the Savior commanded His Twelve Apostles to love one another as He had loved them. And then He added, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’  (John 13: 34-35)

The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.

Make no mistake about it: contention is evil! Jesus Christ declared that those who have ‘the spirit of contention’ are not of Him but are ‘of the devil, who is the father of contention, and [the devil] stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.’  (3 Nephi 11: 29 in the Book of Mormon)

How we treat each other really matters!

“How we speak to and about others at home, at church, at work, and online really matters. Today, I am asking us to interact with others in a higher, holier way. Please listen carefully. ‘If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy’ that we can say about another person—whether to his face or behind her back—that should be our standard of communication.  Contention drives away the Spirit—every time. Contention reinforces the false notion that confrontation is the way to resolve differences; but it never is. Contention is a choice. Peacemaking is a choice. You have your agency to choose contention or reconciliation. I urge you to choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.”  (Quoted Part of the Remarks of President Russell M. Nelson, “Peacemakers Needed”, General Conference, April, 2023, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Called the Children of God

“Blessed are the Peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5: 9 in the Bible)

We are all spirit children of Heavenly Father.  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  ” (Romans 8: 16-17 in the Bible)

In order to enter back into the presence of Heavenly Father and the Savior as children of God, we need to change our natural contentious, selfish tendencies.  “And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of Godchanged from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;” (Mosiah 27: 25-26 p. 201 in the Book of Mormon)