Judge not

"Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

"Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shall thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (JST Matt. 7:2, and KJV Matt. 7:3-5.)

These words of admonition came as Jesus concluded His Sermon on the Mount. Sitting in judgment of others is a heavy burden, but many engage in it as if it were a harmless indulgence.

Few, if any of us, are qualified to judge others, mainly bacause we don't have perfect vision. It takes a thorough undersstanding of the people involved and a knowledge of all the pertinent circumstances, events and facts before a good or true judgment can be made. In our everyday lives - when most of us tend to pass judgment on others - few have access to such understanding and knowledge. A lack of understanding, faulty reasoning, ignorance of facts or prejudice can cause us to make faulty judgments.

Quite often, some of us tend to judge others in matters that do not concern us, or we try to correct what we perceive are faults in their lives. We might make judgmental remarks that cause emotional pain to others. How many times, for example, have we said or heard someone else say to a single-adult member of the Church: "You really ought to be married. What are you waiting for?" And how many childless couples among us have wept inwardly when someone has commented: "Why don't you have any children? You don't know the joy you're missing out on." Imagine the pain a divorced person feels upon overhearing a judgmental comment such as, "They could have made their marriage work if they had tried harder."

It is well and good for us to express and demonstrate concern for others and look for ways to serve them and enrich their lives. But our interest in their well-being and happiness does not give us license to meddle in their personal lives or to gossip. We can give support and render compassionate service in another's hour of need without passing judgment on them for the personal choices they've made.

If we are tempted to correct the faults we see in others, we might need to remind ourselves that we don't have all the facts, that we don't understand how or what a person is thinking or what his or her experiences have been that influenced a particular action. And perhaps we should remind ourselves that ours may not be the only, or even the correct, opinion.

In the gospel, there are certain irrefutable laws that are not open to change or debate, such as those in the Ten Commandments and other teachings and principles revealed by the Lord through His prophets. If these laws are broken, we must leave the reprimanding of transgressors to those whom the Lord has called to do so. And even if disciplinary action is taken, we must still refrain from heaping criticism upon those involved. There are many instances when proceedings are not our concern, when matters are between no one but the individuals involved, their bishops and the Lord.

If David had been judged only on outward appearances, he would not have been chosen to be king of Israel. But 1 Sam. 16:7 contains direction the Prophet Samuel was given as he was sent to anoint David. In our dealings with another, let us review this precious counsel:

"Look not on his countenance,... for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

We use only outward appearances when we judge others. We aren't capable of seeing fully what is in the heart of another. We might receive certain clues about one's intentions through words and actions, but can we truly look upon one's heart as the Lord does?

While still obeying God's commandments and other laws that govern us, we have the opportunity to make many choices regarding our lives. If we are mindful that everyone else has that same opportunity we will be less likely to pass judgment when others make choices that differ from ours.

We are all brothers and sisters, but we are not duplicates of each other. Let us serve with charity while respecting one's right to privacy. Let us refrain from judging others.

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