Three years after Jesus Christ completed His ministry among the people in the land of Bountiful, Mormon notes that “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Nephi 1:15). Verses like this one in 4 Nephi teach the importance of resolving conflicts with others and loving both God and our neighbors. One of the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” in the October 19-25, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families suggests, “To reduce contention in your home, perhaps family members could set a goal to be more loving to each other this week.”
Strategies for Reducing Contention and Increasing Christlike Love
One of the first steps according to 4 Nephi is converting to the doctrines and ordinances taught by the Church of Jesus Christ. Mormon explains how a Zion society was created among the Nephites and Lamanites: “the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ … And as many as did …. truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost … the people were all converted unto the Lord upon all the face of the land” (4 Nephi 1:1-2). These verses teach us that the principles and ordinances of the gospel will bring peace for both families and communities.
One of the reasons for such harmonious living was that converts were taught to “deal justly one with another” and to have “all things common among them” (4 Nephi 1:2-3). Being honest with each other and sharing are two key principles for a happy home life. If arguments arise, take a deep breath, speak calmly, try to understand others’ viewpoints, and pray for guidance.
Having faith in Christ’s gospel and priesthood led to “great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear” (4 Nephi 1:5). Many miracles were performed in the name of Jesus. Families should renew sacramental promises that the Spirit will guide them and draw upon the power of priesthood blessings.
Additional strategies involved obeying the commandments Jesus had taught them. They continued “in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord” (4 Nephi 1:12). We need to be living faithfully daily, fasting often, and praying that Heavenly Father’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (3 Nephi 13:10; also Matthew 6:10). By living the gospel of Jesus Christ, “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4 Nephi 1:16). They demonstrated how to live happy lives.
Families with children may want to read “Chapter 48: Peace in America” (Book of Mormon Stories, 136–37) or view the corresponding video on ChurchofJesusChrist.org: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/book-of-mormon-stories/chapter-48-peace-in-america?lang=eng).
Attitudes and Behaviors to Avoid
4 Nephi also warns that one of the first steps threatening peace and happiness involved a small group of people “who had revolted from the church and taken upon them the name of Lamanites” (4 Nephi 1:20).
For about two hundred years everyone had lived without tribal, racial, or political labels, “they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:17). The simple act of dividing into named antagonistic groups led to dissension and conflict. Families continually need to seek to be united in their love of one another and help others—especially those less fortunate—in the communities where they live.
Mormon clearly warns about “those who were lifted up in pride” (4 Nephi 1:24). Some of the prideful attitudes or behaviors he described are the following:
“Costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world” (4 Nephi 1:24).
“They did have their goods and their substance no more common among them” (4 Nephi 1:25).
“They began to be divided into classes” (4 Nephi 1:26).
“They began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ” (4 Nephi 1:26).
“Did receive all manner of wickedness” (4 Nephi 1:27).
“They did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ” (4 Nephi 1:29).
“The people did harden their hearts, and did seek to kill them” (4 Nephi 1:31).
“They were taught to hate the children of God” (4 Nephi 1:39).
“They did wax strong, and became exceedingly more numerous than were the people of God” (4 Nephi 1:40).
“The people began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton” (4 Nephi 1:42).
“The people of Nephi began to be proud in their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, and become vain” (4 Nephi 1:43).
“And gold and silver did they lay up in store in abundance, and did traffic in all manner of traffic” (4 Nephi 1:46).
The effects of the pride described in 4 Nephi led to division and sorrow. The joy and happiness of a Zion society that had lasted for two hundred years completely unravelled and led to the annihilation of the Nephites. We need to be wary of the multi-faceted dangers of pride.
See also “Chapter 18: Beware of Pride,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (2014), 229–40).
Striving for Peace and Understanding
As families we can review our progress together and discuss how showing greater Christlike love has affected our own families and others around us. The Resurrected Savior’s teachings dramatically changed the lives of the Nephites and Lamanites. Inspired by their example, we should press faithfully forward. By striving to be disciples of Christ and following His teachings and example, we can reduce contention, be happy in our homes, and help our communities.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been counselled: “We pray for peace and for understanding. Above all, we pray that we may treat one another with greater kindness, compassion and goodness” (“Church Issues Statements on Situation in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, Aug. 13, 2017).