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Church talk: Judge not

Friday 31 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features

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Church talk: Judge  not
Christ comforts Mary and Martha. LDS/24053010

When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate, writes Kayla Kaimarama-Willie of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I begin with a short story from the late President Thomas S. Monson’s October 2010 address which illustrates a point I’d like to make.

A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighbourhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbour hanging out her washing. “That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbour doesn’t know how to get the clothes clean!”

John looked on but remained silent. Every time her neighbour would hang her washing to dry, Lisa would make the same comments. A few weeks later, Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbour’s yard. She said to her husband, “Look, John – she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”

John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”

My dear brothers and sisters, are we looking through a window which needs cleaning? Are we making judgments when we don’t have all the facts? What do we see when we look at others? What judgements do we make about them? Judgement is an important use of our agency. It requires great care, especially when we make judgements about other people. Our judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.

In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus commands us to “judge not”. He said, “With what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Or, as President Monson paraphrases, why beholdest thou what you think is dirty laundry at your neighbour’s house but considerest not the dirty window in your own house? Sometimes we focus on others’ faults when we should instead be working to improve ourselves.

None of us is perfect. I don’t know of anyone who would profess to be so. Yet, despite our own inadequacies, we have a tendency to point out those of others. We make judgements concerning their actions or inactions. There is really no way we can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might say or do something we find reason to criticise. Not only are we inclined to judge the actions and words of others, but many of us judge appearances: clothing, hairstyles, size. The list could go on and on. Appearances can be so deceiving but it’s a poor measure of a person.

How can we overcome our natural instincts of judging others? I echo the words of Elder Uchtdorf, “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!” Judging others – we all do it, whether we like to admit it or not. In a world full of people who are very different from you, it can be hard to be Christlike. It is difficult to see others – especially those we dislike or disagree with – the way the Lord sees them.

When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. The simple solution to the problem of judging others is to STOP IT. Let us replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. When we follow Christ’s example and look at others with the love He has for them, it becomes a lot easier to “just stop it”.

We need to exemplify Christlike attributes, specifically the attribute of charity, for charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the opposite of criticism and judging. True charity is love in action. It is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily or categorising others. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings and accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances.

Brothers and sisters, there will always be people you disagree with. But the next time you feel judgment stirring within your heart, remember that we are all imperfect. Please know that the Lord loves that person just as much as He loves you. I testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of hope.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.