Note: This post is about our souls, and not our politics. It apples to all of us, no matter where we a stand on issues, who we voted for, or what we feel is important. Please respect that if you choose to make comments.
Sometimes I find myself writing in the strangest of circumstances. At this moment I am typing in the dark at a desk in a motel in Kanab, UT while my wife sleeps a few feet away. Yeah, I would rather be asleep too, but thoughts keep entering my head that I have to write, or they will never leave me be.
We stopped in Kanab on our way to Heber City. Our only daughter and her husband are hoping to deliver their firstborn this weekend, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world. I am gonna be a proud Grampa, and I know my bonus son is gonna be a proud Papa.
But I am convinced that as proud as we will be, there is someone who is even more of a proud Papa than we are this week. Who is the Proud Papa?
I can’t take credit for that idea as I stole it from Jesus.
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. (3 Nephi 11:29)
Yes, it has been a banner week for the devil. It has also been one of the saddest weeks of my life. I have watched as the Nation that I love and the world churns with contention. I have seen families, friendships and communities being torn apart. I have watched cities burn. I have watched rage and anger dominate the news and the hearts of so many.
I hear the cries of many saying that this is the time for anger. Many proclaim that they are driven by their rage. People on all sides of every issue are raging.
Meanwhile, I imagine Satan leaning against a building, flicking a lighter, and chuckling at what he has managed to accomplish.
Some eight years ago I researched and wrote a series of posts about anger, because it is something I have really struggled with in my character and life. I learned a lot from the Lord’s servants about anger and contention, and thought it might be a good time to share some of those teachings. We sure need it.
Thomas S. Monson: “The Apostle Paul asks in Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 26 of the Joseph Smith Translation: “Can ye be angry, and not sin? let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” I ask, is it possible to feel the Spirit of our Heavenly Father when we are angry? I know of no instance where such would be the case.” (link)
Also President Monson: “To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan.” (link)
Simply put, when I am angry, I am in sin, and the Spirit will not be with me. Can I still get things done without the Spirit? Sure, but they might not be the things the Lord would have me do. I am left to my own devices, and the influence of Satan without the aid of divine guidance.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell made the point, “Whereas the natural man vents his anger, the men and women of Christ are “not easily provoked.” (1 Cor. 13:5.)
And we know how King Benjamin felt about the “natural man,” that he “is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever…” (Mosiah 3:19)
President David O. McKay made the stunning statement:
“A man who cannot control his temper is not very likely to control his passion, and no matter what his pretensions in religion, he moves in daily life very close to the animal plane.” (link)
He also added, “A man in such a mental state that the anger itself does him more harm than the condition that aroused his anger, and, in reality, brothers and sisters, he suffers more from the vexation than he does from the acts that aroused that vexation.“
(Please remember that these are not my quotes. If you have issue with them, take them up with Jesus and the Brethren.)
What’s my point? That we are in dangerous waters. No matter what my political or social beliefs are, God wants me to approach things in life His way, not the way of the adversary.
Yes, I am first to admit that I have seen things recently that have made me mad. I’m sure most of us have. When that happens, I need to check myself, and remember that if I embrace that anger, I am alienating myself from God, and aligning with the Prince of Darkness. Sound dramatic? Good.
Equally dramatic are the promises made buy the Lord’s Servants:
President Thomas S. Monson: “To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can makeus angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible.” (“School Thy Feelings, O My Brother,” October Conference, 2009)
Elder Lynn Robbins: “Understanding the connection between agency and anger is the first step from eliminating it from our lives. We can choose not to become angry. And we can make that choice today, right now: “I will never become angry again.” Ponder this resolution.” (“Agency and Anger,” April Conference, 2008)
If you find yourself, like I do, having to deal with anger issues, I suggest you read this post, “Anger, We’re in the Wrong Business,” that speaks to how the Holy Ghost can help us overcome this human frailty. (If I ever master it, I’ll be the first to let you know.)
As Christ taught us that the father of contention is the Devil, He also taught us, “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 11:30)
Even in things such as social issues and politics, there is still the Lord’s Way and Satan’s Way. If there is anger in our hearts, we have made our choice.
Just this week, President Nelson made a statement about the sin of racism, but a pair of short sentence really jumped out to me:
“Any nation can only be as great as its people. That requires citizens to cultivate a moral compass that helps them distinguish between right and wrong.” (link)
I believe that the anger and rage we are seeing displayed across the political and social spectrum is a manifestation of the moral decay that has led us to where we are today.
(I also see no coincidence that President Nelson’s initial post on May 28, while all of the chaos was unfolding, was about…the importance of taking the sacrament.) (link)
Please love one another. Please join me in monitoring the condition of our own hearts. Don’t let anger – no matter how seemingly justified – cause us to switch spiritual alliances. We need the Spirit to guide us through these difficult times.
I love you all.