Judging other people: I figure I’m like most people in the world, because I’ve been on both sides of the issue. To be honest, I don’t like being on either side.
I’ve wondered what causes us as human beings to lean so quickly to harsh judgement of others. I’ve read articles that explain it’s human nature to see ourselves in the best light (after all, we know we were doing our best) and to see others as having suspicious motives (the “I know they’re out to get me syndrome.”) I catch myself in that mindset more often than I’d like to admit.
Is judging others harshly an outgrowth of our need to believe that we are good? Do we have an inborn need to be “better than” the people around us, or is it part of our nature? I’m not sure, but it seems to be pretty universal.
What Judging is NOT
I have discovered that, of the many times that I have been accused of judging someone, the person accusing me is often misapplying the definition of judging.
Refraining from judging does NOT require me or anyone else to simply agree with the choices or lifestyle of anyone and everyone else. It does not require that I am always “nice,” nor does it require me to equivocate on words that God has clearly spoken in ancient scriptures and through modern prophets. Neither am I required to make sure that someone who knows better is “comfortable” with poor choices.
Teaching and proclaiming the word of God is not judging. The problem is that followers of Christ are expected to simply proclaim God’s love and let the rest of the world go on its merry way.
Yes, God IS love, and God and Jesus Christ love each and every human being who has lived, who is living, or who ever will live upon this earth. In fact, they love us so much that they want us to become better than we are at this moment, and have given us a tried and true plan to make that happen. However, choosing to live outside of that plan deprives people of that spiritual and moral growth and disqualifies them from many (and even most) of God’s promised blessings. It’s a package deal, and any truthful follower of Christ has to proclaim the full program.
What is Judging?
True judging is getting a sense of righteousness (or, more correctly, self-righteousness) out of cataloging and publishing the faults and imperfections of other people. It is being more concerned with all the perceived junk sitting in our neighbors’ yards than with making sure that we are properly caring for our own stewardship. It is being quick to condemn while still expecting those other people to be tolerant and loving of our own “minor faults and imperfections.”
Do those who call themselves Christians, and (more specifically) members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints judge unrighteously? You betcha!
The church is a hospital for the spiritually sick, and the gospel is the treatment plan. Since everyone comes to the church in different stages of spiritually dying and the treatment plan works more quickly for some than for others, people of all spiritual conditions are members of the church. Membership, even devoted following of Christ, has NEVER granted automatic perfection.
“Judge Righteous Judgement”
The paradox is that the scriptures call disciples of Christ to “judge righteous judgement.” Is that even possible? I believe that if God requires it, than it is possible — if we are seeking God’s help.
I may not have a full understanding of righteous judgement, but here is what I have come to believe it looks like:
- thoroughly studying ancient and modern scriptures and prophetic teachings to learn, as exactly as possible, God’s own definition of what is right and what is wrong,
- seriously committing to living what is right with full purpose of heart and mind,
- recognizing that there are many who do not fully understand Heavenly Father’s requirements or the blessings and joy that come from living gospel law,
- feeling Christ’s love and a desire to bless them with light and knowledge, and
- speaking and encouraging AS MOVED UPON BY THE HOLY GHOST.
I believe that last ingredient is key — without the guidance of the Holy Ghost, it is hard to have the appropriate love and understanding to do the work of the Father.
So, in the end, the balance rests in being patient with imperfections while also trying to lead, teach, lift, and encourage each other to live to even higher standards of righteousness. I am so glad that God has the power to make possible what is truly impossible for humans to accomplish on their own!