A Word

by | Jan 16, 2023

face with crazy eyes, painting

Authentic Joseph Smith (No. 5)

Part of the Joseph Smith, Jr. Series

All blue quotes by Joseph Smith (unless otherwise noted).

From Wilford Woodruff’s diary (February 1844)

“there are men in our midst who are trying to build up themselves at our expense & others in our midst that are watching for iniquity & will make a man an offender for a word.”

The painting intends to capture what the emotional state of a habitual accuser looks like. It’s strident, and not spiritually edifying or mature.

strident: grating, without melody

Nonetheless, the status of being offended and indignant is touted as powerful and vital in our culture and society. It’s everywhere: the news, our court systems, and our community gatherings…

Does it draw you in?

There is so much anger going around these days; have you ever had someone make you an offender for a word or have you watched that happen to someone else”? What was your reaction?

Let me share

Once, someone confronted me about using the word “conspiracy” at Church. That individual said such a word should not be used because it was political. She was going for the ultimate take-down/scolding session. I didn’t respond or have a comeback about the “conspiracy” word, but it felt trite and lacking in discernment. Especially to act as if one owned a word and its use among other adults.

Habitually being offended and indignant is a disease. Think dis-ease or lack of ease. Indignation is rooted in contention, anger, and a tendency for enmity. And just as Joseph mentioned – there is probably greed for attention/importance at the expense of others.

Both you and I need to take care we do not support such cultural norms among us and intervene when we see such things infiltrate our membership. As Elder Renlund said:

“…Mr. Stevenson observed that self-righteousness, fear, and anger have caused even Christians to hurl stones at people who stumble. He then said, “We can’t simply watch that happen,” and he encouraged the congregants to become “stonecatchers.” Brothers and sisters, not throwing stones is the first step in treating others with compassion. The second step is to try to catch stones thrown by others.” (Infuriating Unfairness – April 2021)

May we resist this deeply ingrained “dis-ease” in our culture and catch stones rather than throw them.

Author’s Notes

The Joseph Smith Series comes from, in part, a book called “The Words of Joseph Smith.”

Note: usually, the book costs a small fortune ($150-$250) because it is out of print. But I found it for free at the BYU Religious Studies Center. (Thank you, BYU)

(P.S. I receive no compensation for any recommendations – I like sharing!)

P.P.S. Isaiah says those who “make an offender for a word” will be cut off (Isaiah 29:21).

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  1. Gregg Sheppard

    This is a great commentary!! Thanks so much.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thank you for the encouraging comment and you are completely welcome.


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