Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ponderize 3 Nephi 11:29-30 (21-27 Feb 16)

 29 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.
 30 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
I selected this verse because recently I had an experience that started a discussion about the difference between contention and conflict.

Conflict is needed for progress in an organization.  We have conflict when we share the same end result but see different paths.   Conflict is healthy and can be used in  counsels and on team to help come to a better understanding of the issues and to help gain alignment.   So, when we see and feel conflict we should view it as an opportunity to improve the solution and grow the team.  Without conflict, we cannot grow, progress, eradicate mediocrity, or experience joy.

Contention on the other hand is conflict turned personal and ugly. Contention is to be avoided. There is no progress when contention is present.  We are warned in the scripture that contention originates from a heart that is under the influence of Satan.  A person with a contentious spirit is not exhibiting Christ-like attributes.

To draw a brief sports analogy, you see contention when a basketball player stops playing the game and starts playing the player.  Wise coaches recognize when this is happening and will send in a substitute while the player sits re-focuses on the game.   Likewise we are wise to put ourselves on the bench when we feel the spirit of contention being stirred up in our hearts.

     The Savior did not limit His warning against contention to those who were not keeping the commandment about baptism. He forbade contention by anyone. Even those who keep the commandments must not stir up the hearts of men to contend with anger. The “father of contention” is the devil; the Savior is the Prince of Peace.
      Even as we seek to be meek and to avoid contention, we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants we have made inevitably cast us as combatants in the eternal contest between truth and error. There is no middle ground in that contest.  (Dallin H. Oaks, “Loving others and living with differences, October 2014 general conference) 

Cross References:
Romans 16:17 - Avoid divisions and offences
Matthew 5:22 - Don't be angry with your brother
Doct & Cov 136:23 - Cease to contend with each other
Proverbs 17:14 - Avoid contention and strife
2 Timothy 2:24 - Be gentle, apt to teach, patient

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