This concept, found in latter-day scripture, has been problematic for me. In theory, I wholeheartedly support the concept, but practicing it has been another issue.
Many, many times, I have stubbornly refused to even try to live it, somehow fearing that by letting go of the hurts that I am experiencing without getting an apology from the other party would mean that they would not ever have to face the consequences of their actions. I absolutely hear my pride in this — trying to supplant my timing and my concept of judgement for God’s — and I’m not happy to have to admit it.
At other times, I would actually try, but I felt more like Jonah in the Old Testament — trying to call down fire and brimstone on those that I had come to consider my enemies, and just knowing that I could persuade God to do so if I would just get my part of the “formula” right.
Neither one of these applications of the principle are what the Lord had in mind when he gave the commandment.
Here is what I have learned as I have struggled to overcome this piece of my fallen nature:
- Only the Lord can truly see the condition of another person’s heart and what led them to be that way. I’ve written before about choosing brains, and the realization that everyone is making the best choices they can with the information they have. I can only see from the outside in, and have the burden of being designed to see other’s motives as more evil than my own. The Lord sees from the inside out, perfectly.
- God’s timing is not my timing. I can’t find the scripture reference, but there is a thought that we are to invite all to come and meet to worship with us — even those who aren’t living up to the covenants they say they made with Heavenly Father — because we never know when that person will finally have something get through to their heart, turn, and repent. I may want to see better behavior now, but God is NOT in the coercion business. He invites and guides, but never forces.
- Talking to the bishop invites the blessings of heaven. After struggling and trying to hide this side of my nature for years, I finally scheduled an appointment with my bishop, and explained my feelings and my frustration. You know what? He didn’t have any answers! Together, though, we reviewed teachings in the gospel, which have strengthened me and guided my study. Even the simple act of finally humbling myself brought blessings of some relief.
In the end, letting the Lord be the judge is designed to be an act of compassion for both parties. To the one who has been offended, it is an opportunity to extend the blessings of compassion. To the offender, aware of the problem or not, the blessings of having heaven’s help rather than facing mortal judgement is extended.