What’s the Difference between Disagreeing with People and Contending with Them?
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“What’s the Difference between Disagreeing with People and Contending with Them?” New Era, Jan. 2015, 44

The Savior said the spirit of contention is of the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). What’s the difference between disagreeing and contending?

It’s normal for people to have different views, and there are times when disciples of Jesus Christ need to stand up in the face of opposition for what we believe. But we need to state our positions in a positive and factual way without becoming angry, bitter, or insulting. So how do we avoid contentious conflict?

You’ve probably heard we can “disagree without being disagreeable.” Avoiding contention begins with your motives and desires. The scriptures say that “only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10). If you care more about “winning an argument” or “being right,” a spirit of contention is almost certain to follow.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught some ways to avoid contention: (1) “show compassionate concern for others”; (2) “bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory”; and (3) “in humble submissiveness, truly [love] God.”1 Then we can have the Spirit of the Lord with us, not the spirit of contention.


  1. Russell M. Nelson, “The Canker of Contention,” Ensign, May 1989, 70–71.