Elder W. Craig Zwick: ‘What do you think?’

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Credit: Deseret News
Credit: Deseret News
Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

In his Saturday afternoon address, Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy read Ephesians 4:29 where Paul warns, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but [only] that which is good … [and] edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Elder Zwick then asked what the phrase “no corrupt communication” means. “We all regularly experience highly charged feelings of anger — our own and others.’ We have seen unchecked anger in public places. We have experienced it as a sort of emotional ‘electrical short’ at sporting events, in the political arena and even in our own homes.”

A recent letter by the First Presidency states, “The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility — even when we disagree.” The letter serves as a reminder, Elder Zwick said, that all can participate in continuing civil dialogue, despite differing perspectives.

Citing Solomon’s counsel found in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger,” he explained, “A ‘soft answer’ consists of a reasoned response — disciplined words from a humble heart. It does not mean we never speak directly or that we compromise doctrinal truth. Words that may be firm in information can be soft in spirit.”

There exists today, Elder Zwick said, a need for men and women to cultivate respect “across wide distances of belief and behavior and across deep canyons of conflicting agendas. It is impossible to know all that informs our minds and hearts or even to fully understand the context for the trials and choices we each face.”

What would happen to “corrupt communication,” Elder Zwick asked, if everyone included kindness and empathy for another’s experience? “I plead with you to practice asking this question: ‘What are you thinking?’”

The willingness to see through another’s eyes will transform “corrupt communication” into the “ministering grace” spoken of by Paul, Elder Zwick said. “It may not change or solve the problems, but the more important possibility may be whether ministering grace could change us.”

In conclusion he testified, “I bear my humble witness that we can ‘minister grace’ through the gift of the still small voice. The cultivated gift of the Holy Ghost pierces our hearts with emphathy for the feelings and context of others, it enables us to transform hazardous situations into holy places.”

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