Peace, Be Still

In “Peacemakers Needed“, President Russell M. Nelson states “Today, I am asking us to interact with others in a higher, holier way. … ‘If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy’ [Articles of Faith 1:13] that we can say about another person … that should be our standard of communication.” As I thought about his words, the phrase Jesus used to calm the seas “Peace, be still” came to mind. I think that this phrase can help us meet the standard of communication the prophet has invited us to maintain.

Knee-Jerk Reaction

The first thing where “Peace, be still” should come to mind is when we are about to make a knee-jerk reaction. On my social media timelines, especially the “For You” page, I get a lot of posts from “exmos”. Usually these posts bring up something that they have researched that proves the church is false. A lot of times the presentation of these items is in a condescending voice. When that happens, I experience a knee-jerk reaction. Years ago, I would have reacted right away to that thought and written something defensive in a similar tone of condescension that would lead to a contentious back and forth.

Today I have a different approach. I still get that defensive thought when someone posts something that, to me, isn’t a true representation of the church. I still want to respond “in kind”. However, I take a breath, still my mind and let reason come into my being. That reason is a peaceful feeling that allows me to be rational and determine if a reaction or response is really necessary. Most times, I do not respond directly to the person who has posted. Instead, I use forums to spread the gospel, such as this blog. I have found that I do not have to interact with others, most of whom I do not know, to reply with what Christ would reply.

“His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire — no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.”

Standing for Truth

Once we have stilled our mind and found peace, we can stand for truth without being contentious.

Make no mistake about it: contention is evil! Jesus Christ declared that those who have “the spirit of contention” are not of Him but are “of the devil, who is the father of contention, and [the devil] stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” [3 Nephi 11:29]. Those who foster contention are taking a page out of Satan’s playbook, whether they realize it or not.

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We are not to seek “peace at any price.” Rather we are to treat others “consistent with keeping the covenant [we] make when [we] partake of the sacrament.” But how to do that without contention?

Standing for truth means that we can calmly and rationally present our side of the debate without insults, vulgarity, or using condescension. The truth has power and will be enhanced by the Holy Ghost to deliver it to the hearts of those that are open to it.

Now Is the Time

President Nelson invites us to change. He tells us that “Now is the time to”:

  1. Lay side bitterness
  2. Cease insisting that it is your way or no way
  3. Stop doing things that make others walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting you
  4. Bury your weapons of war
  5. Put away your verbal arsenal of insults and accusations

I would add that now is also the time to examine yourself and your interactions and become more like Christ and how He would interact with others. One of my favorite stories from the New Testament is found in John 8:1-11. This is the story of the woman taken in adultery and brought to Jesus. Those who had brought her came with contention in their hearts and tried to engage Jesus in a debate that, they hoped, would lead Him to condemn Himself in their eyes.

Note Jesus’s reaction when the woman is brought. He stoops down and writes in the dirt. We have no record of what He wrote, but He acted “as though he heard them not”. I believe that was His “peace, be still” moment and allowed Him to formulate a response that would confound those that brought the woman, but not in a way that would be condescending to them. The people continued to pester Him for an answer and He finally says “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” This is a rational response and one that stood for truth. He did not use insults or accusations, instead He argued that they should do a self-inspection and see if they were worthy to condemn the woman.

Not one of those who brought the woman could honestly say they had no sin. Therefore they all left until Jesus was alone with the woman. He then asks her what happened to her accusers and she states they have all left. Then, He utters the words that we should remember whenever we feel to judge “neither do I condemn thee.” He did not condemn the woman and we should not condemn others.

Examine Your Discipleship

President Nelson invites us to “examine [our] discipleship within the context of the way [we] treat others”. This examination is personal and should align with the “Now is the time to” areas President Nelson mentions.

For me, the first big one is sarcasm. I use it way to much in my interactions with others. It’s usually meant in a funny way, but there are times where it can be hurtful and it should be eliminated from my “verbal arsenal”.

About a week before Cheryl and I were married, there was an incident with sarcasm that has been burned into my mind. We were saying goodnight after a date and Cheryl said “I love you”. My response was something along the lines of “I think I love you” trying to be funny as we were committed to each other and a new life. It wasn’t funny to her. She asked straightaway “you think?”. The way she said it, smacked me hard. I fumbled for only a moment as I tried to explain it was teasing. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t appropriate, and I have remembered it ever since.

One would think that that moment would have helped me remove sarcasm from my life. Alas, it wasn’t so. I have used it with my children and they have on more than one occasion called me out for it. Every time it happens I promise myself to stop. I am getting better however, as lately I have been catching myself before using sarcasm and changing my response to one that shows more love or compassion.

“I bless you to replace belligerence with beseeching, animosity with understanding, and contention with peace.” This blessing can help us examine our discipleship and make necessary changes knowing that the Prince of Peace will help us.


As we strive to weed out contention in our lives, we should always remember the phrase “peace, be still”. This can help us to evaluate why the contention is present and what our response should be. Our knee-jerk reactions will be tamed and reasonable responses can be created when we encounter discussions that strike us as wrong. Examining our discipleship against how we treat others will allow us to improve ourselves and allow us to become more Christlike.

Tips for Teaching

If teaching from this discussion, please consider:

  1. Discuss why we have knee-jerk reactions and how we can overcome them before responding
  2. Have the members of the class give examples of Christ’s interactions and how they provide us an example of how we should interact with others. You may want to use the example of the woman taken in adultery in John 8
  3. Give each member of the class a piece of paper and a pencil. Have them list three areas where they can examine their discipleship against how they treat others. Share an example from your life and ask if anyone else would like to share



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