Anyone who has ever had canker sores in their mouth knows that they are painful and make talking and eating difficult. They are tiny ulcers that appear on the inside of the mouth or on the tongue, lips, or throat. They are not the same as fever blisters or cold sores, and they are not contagious. There are numerous causes for canker sores, such as spicy or acidic food, vitamin deficiencies, stress, or injury to the mouth. Most of them will heal on their own without treatment, but some need medical care.
When Jesus Christ said, “Peace I leave with you….” (John 14:27), He meant inner peace, not political peace. He promised that we can enjoy this personal or inner peace if we would simply follow Him and be obedient to His commandments.
Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke of this inner peace at the April 1989 General Conference of the Church. He says that the “spirit of inner peace is driven away by contention.” He then explains that “Contention does not usually begin as strife between countries. More often, it starts with an individual, for we can contend within ourselves over simple matters of right and wrong. From there, contention can infect neighbors and nations like a spreading sore…. Contention fosters disunity.”
Contention is not a condition of our modern world. In fact, it began in the pre-mortal world and caused a great war in heaven. Elder Nelson explains that this war was not one of bloodshed but one of “conflicting ideas.” That war ended when a third part of all the hosts of heaven was cast out and denied the opportunity to have physical bodies. However, those same spirits are present on earth and are still causing contention in homes, communities, and nations as well as between nations. They fight against families, followers of Jesus Christ, and divine truth.
We must guard against contention in ourselves as well as in our families and other circles of influence. Elder Nelson gives the following suggestions on how to combat the “canker of contention.”
. Show compassionate concern for others.
. Control the tongue, the pen, and the [computer].
. Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory.
. Truly love God: “There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 4 Nephi 1:15).
Thus, love of God should be our aim…. Through love of God, the pain caused by the fiery canker of contention will be extinguished from the soul.
Shun contention. Seek godliness. Be enlightened by eternal truth. Be like-minded with the Lord in love and united with Him in faith.
Even though canker cores are not contagious, they damage the mouth and inhibit eating and talking. Contention also causes damage because it is contagious and often spreads quickly. One contentious person can destroy the peace of an entire family. One contentious person can bring much trouble to a city, and a contentious ruler can bring about war between nations. May we all follow the counsel of Elder Nelson and eliminate the “canker of contention” from our lives and bring peace to ourselves, our families, and everyone within our circles of influence.