When the Savior came to the Americas near the end of 34 AD, these were among the first words he spoke:
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:29–30.)
Compare this with a verse of scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, one that I lean on constantly:
And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. (Doctrine and Covenants 50:23.)
Let’s think about these verses for a moment. If we are contentious, we are following the father of contention, the devil, and if we are saying something that is not edifying (or building up), it is not of God.
I’m sorry to say that at times I’m contentious and sometimes what I say is not very edifying (like, um, today). For me, both these weaknesses grow out of frustration, which grows out of impatience, which grows out of a lack of faith.
I am working on these natural-man habits. In fact, it’s a daily battle. Progress is ever so slight, but I give myself credit for every victory, small or great.
These quotes about the Twelve inspire me. First one is from Elder Neil L. Anderson:
“I’ll just speak of the Twelve, but in the . . . years I’ve been there, I’ve never seen anyone raise their voice. Never seen them angry. Never seen them sarcastic. Never seen them in an attitude of putting somebody down or even putting an idea down.”
Next from President Gordon B. Hinckley:
I have never observed serious discord or personal enmity among my Brethren. I have, rather, observed a beautiful and remarkable thing—the coming together, under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit and under the power of revelation, of divergent views until there is total harmony and full agreement. . . . I know of no other governing body of any kind of which this might be said.
That’s a pretty high standard to live up to, and I am so grateful that these men do live up to it. I look up to them. I am grateful for their examples. I want to follow them just as they follow Christ.
I can do better. We can do better. We can all “cease from anger.”
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil (Psalms 37:8; emphasis added).