The Blessings of Peace

Franklin D. Richards


 

My dear brothers and sisters, I approach this responsibility with a humble heart, and pray the Spirit of the Lord will be with us while I speak to you.

From the Passover feast of 19 centuries ago came this great message of promise and exhortation from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) There is so much conflict and contention in the world today that the subject of peace seems most appropriate for me to discuss.

There can be no real happiness without peace, yet honest men and women in all parts of the world are seeking personal peace and know not where to find it.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace, and his message is a message of peace to the individual and to the world. It is the peace that makes us really appreciate mortal life and enables us to bear heartbreaking tribulations.

The mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to establish this peace in the hearts and homes of the people. A recent letter from our grandson who is serving a mission in Brazil bears this out as he relates how a convert of one month spoke at a sacrament meeting. He said, “Just a month in the Church and he is in the pulpit expounding on the parable of the sower. The greatest joy of missionary work is to see the changes the gospel makes in the lives of people.” This is so true.

I have listened to hundreds of converts bear their testimonies, and practically every one has related how the gospel has brought peace, joy, growth, and development into their lives.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest messages given by our Lord and Savior was the Sermon on the Mount. This message contained the Savior’s plan for the abundant life. In it he admonished all to be peacemakers as he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9.)

Have you ever wondered how you can be a peacemaker? Really, our opportunities are unlimited.

Certainly in our homes we can all be peacemakers by exhibiting love and goodwill, thus offsetting the evil of contention, envy, and jealousy. Where misunderstandings exist between children and parents, we can encourage adjustments on the part of both. We can pray together for the spirit of peace.

We can be a peacemaker by avoiding criticism. Remember that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” (Matt. 7:1–2.) Did you ever stop to think that every time you criticize you are judging?

We can be a peacemaker by practicing and teaching forgiveness. Jesus was asked how many times one should be forgiven, and he replied that we should forgive without limit. Forgive him “seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:22.) An important part of forgiving is forgetting. In some ways, being able to forget is almost as valuable as being able to remember.

In dedicating the Hyde Park chapel in London, among other things, President David O. McKay said, “If you want peace, yours is the responsibility to obtain it. The Restored Gospel teaches that our homes should become warm nests where children may be protected and grow into noble men and women; where … old age [may find] repose; where prayer will find an altar.” (Church News, 11 Mar. 1961, p. 15.)

A very wise bishop called several young people into his office and said to them, “I would like you to help me in an experiment. I would like to prove the impact and influence of one member on the spirit of the family. For one month I would like each one of you to be the peacemaker in your home. Now don’t say anything about this to your family, but be thoughtful, kind, and considerate. Be an example. Where there is quarreling or bickering among members of your family, do whatever you can to overcome these faults by creating an atmosphere of love, harmony, and happiness.

The bishop continued, “When you are irritated, and irritations arise in most every family, control yourself and help the others to control themselves. I would like to see every home in our ward be as President McKay counseled, ‘a warm nest or a bit of heaven on earth.’ At the end of the month I would like you to meet with me again and report.”

It was a challenge for these young people, and they met the challenge in a wonderful way. When they reported back to the bishop, remarks such as these were made:

One young fellow said, “I had no idea I would have so much influence in my home. It’s really been different this last month. I’ve been wondering if much of the turmoil and strife we used to have was caused by me and my attitudes.”

A young lady said, “I guess we were just the normal family, with our selfishness causing little daily conflicts, but as I have worked with my brothers and sisters, a lot of this has been eliminated and there has been a much sweeter spirit in our home. I believe you really have to work at it to have the spirit of peace in your home.”

Another young lady reported, “Yes, there has been a much sweeter, cooperative, and unselfish spirit in our home since I began this experiment, but the biggest difference of all has been in me. I’ve tried hard to be a good example and a peacemaker, and I feel better about myself than I have ever felt. A wonderful feeling of peace has come over me.”

Yes, homes can be disrupted because of family strife. Husbands and wives in an atmosphere of contention destroy their own happiness as well as that of their children.

Are you shutting out of your life the peace and security you so much desire? Thousands of people are doing so because they are so filled with worries, doubts, and concerns. Many people are filled with fears about what will become of them as they grow older. I met a lovely lady in her 80s working in the temple. The spirit of peace and tranquillity radiated from her. She was so busy helping others that she had little concern for herself. Her needs were not great, and as she said, “The Lord is taking care of my needs.”

The Lord tells us, “But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” (D&C 59:23.)

Yes, the Lord will take care of our needs and help us overcome those things that worry us when we do our part, put our faith and trust in him, and concern ourselves with serving him by serving our fellowmen. I’ve seen this in my own life, in the lives of those close to me, and in the lives of hundreds of others all over the world. It is the only way to personal peace, that peace that is not of this world and is beyond our understanding and comprehension, but yet so sweet to us.

Possibly there is a greater need of peacemakers today than ever before. If this world had no need of peacemakers, our Savior never would have said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9. Italics added.)

The blessed part of being a peacemaker is that those who are peacemakers and who live the gospel principles receive a testimony borne of the Holy Ghost. They enjoy the peace that surpasseth all understanding, relief from inner tensions, joy and happiness, contentment, growth, and development. I personally know this to be true.

I bear you my witness that God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ live, and that through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power to act in the name of God have been restored to this earth and, further, that President Spencer W. Kimball is a living prophet guiding and directing the affairs of the church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. May the Lord’s choicest blessings be with him, and may we have the courage and good judgment to follow his counsel and advice.

May each of us in our daily lives assume the role of a peacemaker and enjoy the peace that surpasseth all understanding, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.