AVOIDING UNRIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT

There are three cultural or social beliefs that afflict many of us and cause us not to accept important truths that God has given us. First of these improper beliefs is that we are entitled to judge others without a commission to do so from God, Second that what we see of others truly represents what they are and Third (and worst) that other people never change -- that is, that the gospel cannot transform human beings.

When we judge others without appointment from God we are acting with incredible arrogance and hubris. "Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord." Without dispensation from God we are not entitled to judge any person other than ourselves.

For, when we look at what we see of others, we do not see them as they really are. We see only a part of what others show to the public. Too many members of the Church have private virtues and public faults. This makes it impossible to fairly judge them on their public selves. Others have public "virtues" and private faults. Judging people on the basis of their public image, especially judging and condemning them for their public faults, judges a distortion or mere part of the truth -- a lie -- and makes us a party to a falsehood.

I see such inopportune judging much too often. That sort of unjustified and improper condemnation is often seen when people are judging leaders in the church. For example, I remember a local bishop accused of being cold, uncaring and distant.

I personally know of many of hours and substantial funds that the leader spent of his own time and his own money trying to help the poor and the needy. His heart was constantly touched and he gave a great deal -- though always in private. Most of those condemning him had done nothing to help others and were certain that he had done nothing because he had not made a point of bragging in public. By condemning this innocent leader, they also did nothing to serve others, but were reacting to his natural reserve and shyness.

While God has encouraged us to act in private, to do our praying in closets and to act with such secrecy in our charity that "the left hand does not know what the right hand doth," no one of us is entitled to falsely judge others because they keep their virtues private. Merely obeying God and being charitable in secret is no sin.

Finally, we have no right to assume that people do not change. To assume that people do not change, that the bad we witnessed is all of the truth and that it will remain the truth is to deny Jesus Christ and the power of his atonement. The central doctrine of the church, repentance, assures us that people can change and improve.

To become "of one heart and one mind" we need to leave God's judgments to God. We need to acknowledge that "man cannot comprehend all that God comprehends" and that God's "judgments are just." We need to humble ourselves enough to "trust in the Lord with all [our] hearts, lean not on [our] own understanding."

If we have done otherwise we need to repent. In fact, even those who are free of those three faults need to repent continuously since continuous repentance is necessary for our continuous growth in the gospel.

"It seems that we can only effectively go through the process of continuous repentance if we literally learn to become our own judges. We ourselves and the Lord are the only ones who really know us. We do not even know ourselves unless we have learned to walk the lonely and most challenging road toward self-honesty as constantly prompted by the Spirit.

This is the sacrifice we have to learn to offer. Nobody will ever be able to understand or even accept principles of truth unless he or she, in some degree, has developed a painful awareness of the dimensions of self-honesty. Without the capability to recognize truth, we will not be really free: we will be slaves to habits or prejudices heavily covered with excuses. But learning to become aware of the depth of the dimensions of truth will make us free. We cannot remove a stumbling block unless we see it first. We cannot grow unless we know what is holding us back.

Elder Enzio Busche First Quorum of Seventy Ensign May 1989, page 72-73

As Christ said:

21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cause out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23. Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, will I liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: . . .

26. And every one that hearth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7: 21-27

We need to take advantage of the chance to repent so that our houses are not build on sand. As the prophet Alma said:

24. . . . there [is] a space granted unto man in which he might repent; there fore this life [is] a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of . . . Alma 12: 24

This talk concerns the things we need to do and the things we need to avoid in order to become proper judges of ourselves and to prepare to meet God.

First, a familiar quote from Matthew, chapter 23:

23. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness.

28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

The lesson of this passage is three-fold. First, we should observe the Spirit of the law: judgment, mercy and faith (the weightier matters of the law.)

Second, we should obey the word of the law, such as tithing.

Third, we should obey inwardly as well as outwardly. What is within us should match that which is without us. This three part lesson is also emphasized in the Book of Mormon.

28. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need--I say unto you, if you do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing and ye are as hypocrites who deny the faith.

29. Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.

If we omit the weightier matters of the law, if we fail in mercy and faith, we are "as sounding cymbals or tinkling brass) (cf I Cor.13).

Once we follow the Lord's command in Matthew by living the Spirit and the Letter of the law, inside and out, we can Next purge ourselves of those things that the Lord hates. That means that while we focus on increasing in virtue, we can also avoid vice.

16. These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Proverbs 6:16-19

A close look shows that aside from murder, the things that God hates are pride and gossip -- and the scriptures show that God hates both gossip that is truthful and gossip that is made of lies. Whenever discord is created (even truthfully), mischief is made (even honestly), feelings hurt (even deservedly) and in general, whenever harm is done because the pride of the gossiper tramples the power of mercy, God is offended.

In evaluating ourselves, both to see how we avoid pride and how we cling to faith and mercy, we can heed the advice of the Book of Mormon prophets:

26. And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

27. Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? . . .

28. Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. . .

29. Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? . . .

30. And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?

31. Woe unto such a one. . . Alma 5:26-31

29. And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.

30. but this much can I tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember and perish not.

Mosiah 4:29-30

Finally, as Christ said,

44. But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;

45. That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, . . .

46. . . . in me are all fulfilled.

47. Old things are done away, and all things have become new.

48. Therefore, I would that ye should be perfect, even as I or your Father who is in heaven is perfect. May we avoid judging others with unrighteous judgment and may the old things be done away in our lives through Christ, that we may become new, is my prayer, in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[adrr.com (mediation)] [Ethesis] [Surviving Loss] [©1996-1998 Stephen R. Marsh All Rights Reserved] [e-mail]
Link to Books and Music
Link to Nauvoo Forum
Link to FAIR Roundtable