The more we contend with others the more we are taken captive by the spirit of contention. We become subject to the spirit we submit to follow. Those who are prone to contention become more contentious as they listen to that spirit. Eventually they are overcome by that spirit, and it is a great work involving great effort to subdue and dismiss that spirit from the heart and mind of the victim.1There are many who dispute the inspiration others have received. There are two concerns with the decision a good person makes to dispute with others: First, the Lord’s example is to refrain from disputing, as He did. When confronted, He would respond, but He did not go about picking a fight with others. He responded. The only exception was when He went up to Jerusalem to be slain. Then He went into the seat of Jewish power and authority to throw it down and provoke their decision to finally judge, reject and crucify Him. He, and not they, controlled that timing. His provocation at that time was a deliberate act on His part because His “time had come” and His sacrifice needed to be made. Second, there are the Lord’s teachings. We have time and time again focused on the Doctrine of Christ. We have the Doctrine of Christ on numerous websites, enshrined in numerous talks, and as a theme that has been adopted for conferences. Just before the Doctrine of Christ He tells you what His doctrine is not. This is what Christ says immediately preceding His doctrine: Neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. 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 5:8). And then He proceeds to declare His doctrine of Christ. The more we contend and dispute with one another, the better we become at contention. We polish the rhetorical skills to oppose others. That spirit of contention can take possession of us, and when it does, we are hard-pressed to be a peacemaker with others. Christ said: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 3:10 – 12). But peace should not be made at the cost of truth. Truth must be the only goal. Truth, however, belongs to God. Our desires, appetites and passions are prone to make us stray well beyond the bounds set by God. Therefore, when our pride is gratified, we should question if we are advancing truth. When our ambition is served, we should question if we are in the Lord’s employ or our own. When we insist upon control, we should question if we are like our Lord or instead like His adversary. When we use any means for compelling others, we should wonder if we are mocking the God who makes the sun to shine and rain to fall on all His fallen children without compulsion. When we display unrighteous dominion, we should question whether we are worthy of any dominion at all. Our tools must be limited to persuasion, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge, with all of them marshaled “without compulsory means” to persuade others to accept the truth. And if we fail to make the persuasive case, then the problem is not others, the problem is that we’ve yet to figure out how to be sufficiently knowledgeable so as to bring them aboard.2 See MUTUAL AGREEMENT.
1 “That We Might Become One,” Jan. 14, 2018, 4, transcript of talk.
2 “That We Might Become One,” Jan. 14, 2018, 4, 6 – 7.