The Word: ‘Seek peace, and pursue it’
Published 11:47 am Friday, July 21, 2023
In the Old Testament, there is a story of an amazing woman named Abigail, a story that is so inspiring that we named our daughter Abigail.
Abigail “was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance,” but her husband Nabal “was churlish and evil in his doings” (see 1 Samuel 25:3-35).
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When conflict erupted between David’s messengers and Nabal, Abigail interceded. Though she was not at fault herself, she brought food and supplies to David and begged for mercy. David received Abigail’s gifts, and a potentially disastrous and bloody exchange was averted.
Like Abigail, we can actively seek peace. She did not wait until violence broke out to intervene. Rather, she saw a potentially contentious situation and took positive steps to help others take a step back and cool down.
In the words of David’s ancient psalm, we should “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (34:14).
In today’s world, we often rush to argue, both in person and in online settings. The slightest differing opinions can lead to harsh words and accusations. When someone expresses another approach, it is perceived as an attack and we respond in kind.
In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ taught: “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” (3 Nephi 11:29).
Jesus Christ taught a different way: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Teaching about the vital need of peacemakers today, Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stated: “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.”
President Nelson called for a new standard of kindness in communication: “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.”
He continued: “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.”
May we each demonstrate our discipleship by following the loving, kind, and compassionate example and teachings of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
DR. BRENT ROBERTS is the Branch President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.