Tag Archives: Holy Ghost

#BOMTC 3 Nephi 14-16: To Judge, or Not to Judge

JUDGING: It’s a pretty delicate topic, right?

I don’t want to create any confusion, contention, or conflicted feelings when people are done reading this post; so I will make sure that I don’t share my own opinion, but rather present the message the Lord has already given on this topic through His Authorized Servants and Sacred Sources.

I will share MANY resources today, not just because judging can be a sensitive topic, but mostly because it is such an IMPORTANT topic to understand. It is well worth our time to read/watch/listen to whatever the Lord has taught us about judging.

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed the following admonition to each of us:

“Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” (Joseph Smith Translation Matt. 7:1–2)

You will probably want to make sure that you have that footnote marked in your scriptures for Matthew 7:1-2, and you may want to include a reference for it at 3 Nephi 14:1-2.

Okay, so now what? Well, it seems to me that Christ illustrates exactly what he is talking about in 3 Nephi 14–ALL 27 verses. Pay attention to some of the words that are used by Jesus in this very chapter that show how He describes different types of people:

  • hypocrite
  • dogs
  • swine
  • false prophets
  • ravening wolves
  • corrupt tree
  • ye that work iniquity
  • foolish man

At first it may seem strange to us that Jesus, the one who is love, would use such words to describe others, but that is exactly what He did. He taught us how to make “righteous judgment” (intermediate judgment), while at the same time withholding “final judgement”.

#BOMTC Day 69, June 14~3 Nephi 14-16 or Pages 435-440, Mote VS Beam (1)

3 Nephi 13:3-5

Learning to make righteous intermediate judgment is so important because if we don’t we will suffer the consequences that the Savior also spoke of in these verses:

“lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you, which leadeth to destruction, cast into the fire, depart from me, and great was the fall of it.”

So out of all the topics in 3 Nephi 14-16, I feel that the most important thing that I can do is share MANY resources with you that will help you to understand and learn to make righteous intermediate judgments.

PLEASE, take your time to try and understand EVERYTHING included in this post before you pass judgment on it and send angry comments my way. My desire is not to cause problems or create controversy. I just want to help all of us understand how to do exactly what Jesus has asked us to do, so that we can be like those in this chapter whom He judged as being a “good tree” and a “wise man“.

So here we go! You may have to bookmark this page and come back to it later if you do not have a good amount of time to put some serious study into this soul-saving topic.

Lets begin with what has been posted on the TOPICS page on LDS.ORG under “Judging Others“:

“Judgment is an important use of our agency and requires great care, especially when we make judgments about other people. All our judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.

“Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that we should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, we will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives. The Lord has given many commandments that we cannot keep without making judgments. For example, He has said: “Beware of false prophets. . . . Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16) and “Go ye out from among the wicked” (D&C 38:42). We need to make judgments of people in many of our important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing a spouse.

“The Lord gave a warning to guide us in our judgment of others: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 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 the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (3 Nephi 14:2-5).

#BOMTC Day 69, June 14~3 Nephi 14-16 or Pages 435-440, Mote VS Beam

“In this scripture passage the Lord teaches that a fault we see in another is often like a tiny speck in that person’s eye, compared to our own faults, which are like an enormous beam in our eyes. Sometimes we focus on others’ faults when we should instead be working to improve ourselves.

“Our righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for us and our families. We should approach any such judgment with care and compassion. As much as we can, we should judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, we should refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. And we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide our decisions. Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton is a helpful reminder: “See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually” (Alma 41:14).”

I love the simplicity and applicability of that entry!

The Guide to the Scriptures defines Judgement as to following: To evaluate behavior in relation to the principles of the gospel; to decide; to discern good from evil.” It also provides LOTS of scriptures that define, describe, and illustrate righteous intermediate judgment.

My next favorite resource that helps me understand how to make righteous intermediate judgement come from a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, given on 1 March 1998 at Brigham Young University entitled, ““Judge Not” and Judging“. Something to keep in mind is that Elder Oaks served on the Supreme Court for the State of Utah, and that he spent is “professional life” studying, teaching, and practicing the law on which our society judges.

“Judge Not” and Judging

There are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles.

As a student of the scriptures and as a former judge, I have had a special interest in the many scriptures that refer to judging. The best known of these is “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (3 Ne. 14:1Matt. 7:1).

I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. I will speak about gospel judging.

Final Judgments

First, I speak of the final judgment. This is that future occasion in which all of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to our works (see 1 Ne. 15:333 Ne. 27:15Morm. 3:20D&C 19:3). Some Christians look on this as the time when individuals are assigned to heaven or hell. With the increased understanding we have received from the Restoration, Latter-day Saints understand the final judgment as the time when all mankind will receive their personal dominions in the mansions prepared for them in the various kingdoms of glory (see D&C 76:111John 14:21 Cor. 15:40–44). I believe that the scriptural command to “judge not” refers most clearly to this final judgment, as in the Book of Mormon declaration that “man shall not … judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord” (Morm. 8:20).

Since mortals cannot suppose that they will be acting as final judges at that future, sacred time, why did the Savior command that we not judge final judgments? I believe this commandment was given because we presume to make final judgments whenever we proclaim that any particular person is going to hell (or to heaven) for a particular act or as of a particular time. When we do this—and there is great temptation to do so—we hurt ourselves and the person we pretend to judge.

The effect of one mortal’s attempting to pass final judgment on another mortal is analogous to the effect on an athlete and observers if we could proclaim the outcome of an athletic contest with certainty while it was still under way. A similar reason forbids our presuming to make final judgments on the outcome of any person’s lifelong mortal contest.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; … He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, … ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,’ those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 218).

Thus, we must refrain from making final judgments on people because we lack the knowledge and the wisdom to do so. We would even apply the wrong standards. The world’s way is to judge competitively between winners and losers. The Lord’s way of final judgment will be to apply His perfect knowledge of the law a person has received and to judge on the basis of that person’s circumstances, motives, and actions throughout his or her entire life (see Luke 12:47–48John 15:222 Ne. 9:25).

Even the Savior, during His mortal ministry, refrained from making final judgments. We see this in the account of the woman taken in adultery. After the crowd who intended to stone her had departed, Jesus asked her about her accusers. “Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10). When she answered no, Jesus declared, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). In this context the word condemn apparently refers to the final judgment (see John 3:17).

The Lord obviously did not justify the woman’s sin. He simply told her that He did not condemn her—that is, He would not pass final judgment on her at that time. This interpretation is confirmed by what He then said to the Pharisees: “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man” (John 8:15). The woman taken in adultery was granted time to repent, time that would have been denied by those who wanted to stone her.

The Savior gave this same teaching on another occasion: “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).

From all of this we see that the final judgment is the Lord’s and that mortals must refrain from judging any human being in the final sense of concluding or proclaiming that he or she is irretrievably bound for hell or has lost all hope of exaltation.

Intermediate Judgments

In contrast to forbidding mortals to make final judgments, the scriptures require mortals to make what I will call “intermediate judgments.” These judgments are essential to the exercise of personal moral agency. Our scriptural accounts of the Savior’s mortal life provide the pattern. He declared, “I have many things to say and to judge of you” (John 8:26) and “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see” (John 9:39).

During His mortal ministry the Savior made and acted upon many intermediate judgments, such as when He told the Samaritan woman of her sinful life (see John 4:17–19), when He rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy (see Matt. 15:1–9Matt. 23:1–33), and when He commented on the comparative merit of the offerings of the rich men and of the widow’s mites (see Mark 12:41–44).

Church leaders are specifically commanded to judge. Thus, the Lord said to Alma: “Whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also. …

“… And whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people” (Mosiah 26:29, 32).

Similarly, in modern revelation the Lord appointed the bishop to be a “judge in Israel” to judge over property and transgressions (D&C 58:17;D&C 107:72).

The Savior also commanded individuals to be judges, both of circumstances and of other people. Through the prophet Moses, the Lord commanded Israel, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour” (Lev. 19:15).

On one occasion the Savior chided the people, “Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” (Luke 12:57). On another occasion he said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

We must, of course, make judgments every day in the exercise of our moral agency, but we must be careful that our judgments of people are intermediate and not final. Thus, our Savior’s teachings contain many commandments we cannot keep without making intermediate judgments of people: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matt. 7:6); “Beware of false prophets. … Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15–16); and “Go ye out from among the wicked” (D&C 38:42).

We all make judgments in choosing our friends, in choosing how we will spend our time and our money, and, of course, in choosing an eternal companion. Some of these intermediate judgments are surely among those the Savior referenced when He taught that “the weightier matters of the law” include judgment (Matt. 23:23).

The scriptures not only command or contemplate that we will make intermediate judgments but also give us some guidance—some governing principles—on how to do so.

Righteous Intermediate Judgment

The most fundamental principle is contained in the Savior’s commandment that we “judge not unrighteously, … but judge righteous judgment” (JST, Matt. 7:1–2, footnote a; see also John 7:24Alma 41:14). Let us consider some principles or ingredients that lead to a “righteous judgment.”

First, a righteous judgment must, by definition, be intermediate. It will refrain from declaring that a person has been assured of exaltation or from dismissing a person as being irrevocably bound for hellfire. It will refrain from declaring that a person has forfeited all opportunity for exaltation or even all opportunity for a useful role in the work of the Lord. The gospel is a gospel of hope, and none of us is authorized to deny the power of the Atonement to bring about a cleansing of individual sins,forgiveness, and a reformation of life on appropriate conditions.

Second, a righteous judgment will be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, not by anger, revenge, jealousy, or self-interest. The Book of Mormon teaches: “For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain … as the daylight is from the dark night.

“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moro. 7:15–16).

The Savior taught that one of the missions of the Comforter He would send would be to assist in the judgment of the world by guiding the faithful “into all truth” (John 16:13; see also John 16:8, 11).

Third, to be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. We should not presume to exercise and act upon judgments that are outside our personal responsibilities. Some time ago I attended an adult Sunday School class in a small town in Utah. The subject was thesacrament, and the class was being taught by the bishop. During class discussion a member asked, “What if you see an unworthy person partaking of the sacrament? What do you do?” The bishop answered, “You do nothing. I may need to do something.” That wise answer illustrates my point about stewardship in judging.

Fourth, we should, if possible, refrain from judging until we have adequate knowledge of the facts. In an essay titled “Sitting in the Seat of Judgment,” the great essayist William George Jordan reminded us that character cannot be judged as dress goods—by viewing a sample yard to represent a whole bolt of cloth (see The Crown of Individuality [1909], 101–5).

In another essay he wrote: “There is but one quality necessary for the perfect understanding of character, one quality that, if man have it, he may dare to judge—that is, omniscience. Most people study character as a proofreader pores over a great poem: his ears are dulled to the majesty and music of the lines, his eyes are darkened to the magic imagination of the genius of the author; that proofreader is busy watching for an inverted comma, a misspacing, or a wrong font letter. He has an eye trained for the imperfections, the weaknesses. …

“We do not need to judge nearly so much as we think we do. This is the age of snap judgments. … [We need] the courage to say, ‘I don’t know. I am waiting further evidence. I must hear both sides of the question.’ It is this suspended judgment that is the supreme form of charity” (“The Supreme Charity of the World,” The Kingship of Self-Control [n.d.], 27–30; emphasis in original).

Someone has said that you cannot slice cheese so fine that it doesn’t have two sides.

Two experiences illustrate the importance of caution in judging. A Relief Society worker visiting a sister in her ward asked whether the woman’s married children ever visited her. Because of a short-term memory loss, this elderly sister innocently answered no. So informed, her visitor and others spoke criticisms of her children for neglecting their mother. In fact, one of her children visited her at least daily, and all of them helped her in many ways. They were innocent of neglect and should not have been judged on the basis of an inadequate knowledge of the facts.

Another such circumstance was described in an Ensign article by BYU professor Arthur R. Bassett. He stated that while teaching an institute class, “I was troubled when one person whispered to another all through the opening prayer. The guilty parties were not hard to spot because they continued whispering all through the class. I kept glaring at them, hoping that they would take the hint, but they didn’t seem to notice. Several times during the hour, I was tempted to ask them to take their conversation outside if they felt it was so urgent—but fortunately something kept me from giving vent to my feelings.

“After the class, one of them came to me and apologized that she hadn’t explained to me before class that her friend was deaf. The friend could read lips, but since I was discussing—as I often do—with my back to the class, writing at the chalkboard and talking over my shoulder, my student had been ‘translating’ for her friend, telling her what I was saying. To this day I am thankful that both of us were spared the embarrassment that might have occurred had I given vent to a judgment made without knowing the facts” (“Floods, Winds, and the Gates of Hell,” Ensign, June 1991, 8).

The scriptures give a specific caution against judging where we cannot know all the facts. King Benjamin taught:

“Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

“But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. …

“And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance” (Mosiah 4:17–18, 22).

There is one qualification to this principle that we should not judge people without an adequate knowledge of the facts. Sometimes urgent circumstances require us to make preliminary judgments before we can get all of the facts we desire for our decision making.

From time to time some diligent defenders deny this reality, such as the writer of a letter to the editor who insisted that certain publicly reported conduct should be ignored because “in this country you are innocent until you are proven guilty.” The presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law is a vital rule to guide the conduct of a criminal trial, but it is not a valid restraint on personal decisions. There are important restraints upon our intermediate judgments, but the presumption of innocence is not one of them.

Some personal decisions must be made before we have access to all of the facts. Two hypotheticals illustrate this principle: (1) If a particular person has been arrested for child sexual abuse and is free on bail awaiting trial on his guilt or innocence, would you trust him to tend your children while you take a weekend trip? (2) If a person you have trusted with your property has been indicted for embezzlement, would you continue to leave him in charge of your life savings? In such circumstances we do the best we can, relying ultimately on the teaching in modern scripture that we should put our “trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously” (D&C 11:12).

fifth principle of a righteous intermediate judgment is that whenever possible we will refrain from judging people and only judge situations. This is essential whenever we attempt to act upon different standards than others with whom we must associate—at home, at work, or in the community. We can set and act upon high standards for ourselves or our homes without condemning those who do otherwise.

For example, I know of an LDS family with an older teenage son who has become addicted to smoking. The parents have insisted that he not smoke in their home or in front of his younger siblings. That is a wise judgment of a situation, not a person. Then, even as the parents take protective measures pertaining to a regrettable situation, they need to maintain loving relations and encourage improved conduct by the precious person.

In an Ensign article, an anonymous victim of childhood sexual abuse illustrates the contrast between judging situations and judging persons. The article begins with heart-wrenching words and with true statements of eternal principles:

“I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I no longer view myself as a victim. The change has come from inside me—my attitude. I do not need to destroy myself with anger and hate. I don’t need to entertain thoughts of revenge. My Savior knows what happened. He knows the truth. He can make the judgments and the punishments. He will be just. I will leave it in his hands. I will not be judged for what happened to me, but I will be judged by how I let it affect my life. I am responsible for my actions and what I do with my knowledge. I am not to blame for what happened to me as a child. I cannot change the past. But I can change the future. I have chosen to heal myself and pass on to my children what I have learned. The ripples in my pond will spread through future generations” (“The Journey to Healing,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 19).

Sixth,forgiveness is a companion principle to the commandment that in final judgments we judge not and in intermediate judgments we judge righteously. The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). In modern revelation the Lord has declared, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).

Pursuing that principle, the author of the Ensign article writes: “Somewhere along the journey of healing comes the essential task of forgiving. Often the command to forgive (see D&C 64:10) seems almost more than one can bear, but this eternal principle can bring lasting peace.”

The Ensign article quotes another survivor of abuse: “I love that truth that although I need to evaluate situations, … I do not need to condemn or judge my abusers nor be part of the punishment. I leave all that to the Lord. I used the principle of forgiveness to strengthen me” (Ensign, Sept. 1997, 22).

Seventh, a final ingredient or principle of a righteous judgment is that it will apply righteous standards. If we apply unrighteous standards, our judgment will be unrighteous. By falling short of righteous standards, we place ourselves in jeopardy of being judged by incorrect or unrighteous standards ourselves. The fundamental scripture on the whole subject of not judging contains this warning: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2; see also 3 Ne. 14:2).

The prophet Mormon taught, “Seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged” (Moro. 7:18).

A standard can be unrighteous because it is too harsh—the consequences are too severe for the gravity of the wrong and the needs of the wrongdoer. I remember a conversation with an LDS newspaperwoman who described what happened when she reported that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the golden plates in 1826, a mistake of one year from the actual date of 1827. She said she received about 10 phone calls from outraged Latter-day Saints who would not accept her admission of error and sincere apology and even berated her with abusive language. I wonder if persons who cannot handle an honest mistake without abusing the individual can stand up to having their own mistakes judged by so severe a standard.

In a BYU devotional address, Professor Catherine Corman Parry gave a memorable scriptural illustration of the consequences of judging by the wrong standards. The scripture is familiar. Martha received Jesus into her house and worked to provide for Him while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His words.

“But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40–42).

Professor Parry said: “The Lord acknowledges Martha’s care: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things’ (Luke 10:41). Then he delivers the gentle but clear rebuke. But the rebuke would not have come had Martha not prompted it. The Lord did not go into the kitchen and tell Martha to stop cooking and come listen. Apparently he was content to let her serve him however she cared to, until she judged another person’s service: ‘Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me’ (Luke 10:40). Martha’s self-importance, expressed through her judgment of her sister, occasioned the Lord’s rebuke, not her busyness with the meal” (“‘Simon, I Have Somewhat to Say unto Thee’: Judgment and Condemnation in the Parables of Jesus,” in Brigham Young University 1990–91 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1991], 116).

In subsequent portions of her talk, Professor Parry observed that in this instance—and also in the example of Simon the Pharisee, who criticized the woman who anointed the feet of the Savior (see Luke 7:36–50)—the Savior took one individual’s judgment of another individual as a standard and applied that judgment back upon the individual who was judging. “Quite literally,” she observes, “they were measured by their own standards and found wanting.

“… While there are many things we must make judgments about, the sins of another or the state of our own souls in comparison to others seems not to be among them. … Our own sins, no matter how few or seemingly insignificant, disqualify us as judges of other people’s sins” (“Simon, I Have Somewhat to Say unto Thee,” 116, 118–19).

I love the words in Susan Evans McCloud’s familiar hymn:

Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.

(“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220)

In one of the monthly General Authority fast and testimony meetings, I heard President James E. Faust say, “The older I get, the less judgmental I become.” That wise observation gives us a standard to live by in the matter of judgments. We should refrain from anything that seems to be a final judgment of any person, manifesting our determination to leave final judgments to the Lord, who alone has the capacity to judge.

In the intermediate judgments we must make, we should take care to judge righteously. We should seek the guidance of the Spirit in our decisions. We should limit our judgments to our own stewardships. Whenever possible we should refrain from judging people until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. So far as possible, we should judge circumstances rather than people. In all our judgments we should apply righteous standards. And, in all of this we must remember the command to forgive.

There is a doctrine underlying the subject of gospel judging. It was taught when a lawyer asked the Savior, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt. 22:36). Jesus answered:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).

Later, in the sublime teachings the Savior gave His Apostles on the eve of His suffering and Atonement, He said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34–35).

May God bless us that we may have that love and that we may show it in refraining from making final judgments of our fellowman. In those intermediate judgments we are responsible to make, may we judge righteously and with love. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love. Our Master whom we seek to serve is, as the scriptures say, a “God of love” (2 Cor. 13:11). May we be examples of His love and His gospel.

Now, if you have made it to this point, then you are probably pretty serious about understanding this topic and making sure that you apply it appropriately in your life. CONGRATULATIONS!

The next resource that I am going to share seems to negate what Elder Oaks taught, but it doesn’t. It is, however, a great way to evaluate how balanced we are when it comes to making righteous intermediate judgments. The expert is from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy“. (Click on the link to read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

Judging Others? Stop It!

“This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

“Stop it!

“It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

“We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

“Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven? . . .

“The people around us are not perfect (see Romans 3:23). People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.

“Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy“)

Are you still with me? AWESOME!

Take a moment to consider what you have learned and felt. Pause to ponder what you need to change in your life right now to begin to implement the Lord’s admonition to make “righteous judgement”. Did you realize that by doing that you are actually making a righteous judgment of yourself?

The following short video is a great illustration of the the principles taught by both Elder Oaks and President Uchtdorf in relation to making “righteous judgment”. It was derived from a talk given by President Thomas S. Monson, entitled,  “Charity Never Faileth” (Ensign, Nov. 2010).

Looking through Windows

We should be careful how we judge others, as we may be looking at them through our own “unclean windows.” Read President Monson’s full address, “Charity Never Faileth”

It is always best to analyze a message in it’s full context, so I am providing President Monson’s talk below with the hope that you will be able to apply his message with greater success.

Charity Never Faileth

Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.

Our souls have rejoiced tonight and reached toward heaven. We have been blessed with beautiful music and inspired messages. The Spirit of the Lord is here. I pray for His inspiration to be with me now as I share with you some of my thoughts and feelings.

I begin with a short anecdote which illustrates a point I should like to make.

A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.

“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”

John looked on but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash 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 neighbor’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!”

Tonight I’d like to share with you a few thoughts concerning how we view each other. 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 judgments do we make about them?

Said the Savior, “Judge not.” 1 He continued, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” 2 Or, to paraphrase, why beholdest thou what you think is dirty laundry at your neighbor’s house but considerest not the soiled window in your own house?

None of us is perfect. I know of no one who would profess to be so. And yet for some reason, despite our own imperfections, we have a tendency to point out those of others. We make judgments 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 criticize. Thus the commandment: “Judge not.”

Forty-seven years ago this general conference, I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At the time, I had been serving on one of the general priesthood committees of the Church, and so before my name was presented, I sat with my fellow members of that priesthood committee, as was expected of me. My wife, however, had no idea where to go and no one with whom she could sit and, in fact, was unable to find a seat anywhere in the Tabernacle. A dear friend of ours, who was a member of one of the general auxiliary boards and who was sitting in the area designated for the board members, asked Sister Monson to sit with her. This woman knew nothing of my call—which would be announced shortly—but she spotted Sister Monson, recognized her consternation, and graciously offered her a seat. My dear wife was relieved and grateful for this kind gesture. Sitting down, however, she heard loud whispering behind her as one of the board members expressed her annoyance to those around her that one of her fellow board members would have the audacity to invite an “outsider” to sit in this area reserved only for them. There was no excuse for her unkind behavior, regardless of who might have been invited to sit there. However, I can only imagine how that woman felt when she learned that the “intruder” was the wife of the newest Apostle.

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.

A classic account of judging by appearance was printed in a national magazine many years ago. It is a true account—one which you may have heard but which bears repeating.

A woman by the name of Mary Bartels had a home directly across the street from the entrance to a hospital clinic. Her family lived on the main floor and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.

One evening a truly awful-looking old man came to the door asking if there was room for him to stay the night. He was stooped and shriveled, and his face was lopsided from swelling—red and raw. He said he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success. “I guess it’s my face,” he said. “I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says it could possibly improve after more treatments.” He indicated he’d be happy to sleep in the rocking chair on the porch. As she talked with him, Mary realized this little old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. Although her rooms were filled, she told him to wait in the chair and she’d find him a place to sleep.

At bedtime Mary’s husband set up a camp cot for the man. When she checked in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and he was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, he asked if he could return the next time he had a treatment. “I won’t put you out a bit,” he promised. “I can sleep fine in a chair.” Mary assured him he was welcome to come again.

In the several years he went for treatments and stayed in Mary’s home, the old man, who was a fisherman by trade, always had gifts of seafood or vegetables from his garden. Other times he sent packages in the mail.

When Mary received these thoughtful gifts, she often thought of a comment her next-door neighbor made after the disfigured, stooped old man had left Mary’s home that first morning. “Did you keep that awful-looking man last night? I turned him away. You can lose customers by putting up such people.”

Mary knew that maybe they had lost customers once or twice, but she thought, “Oh, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.”

After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, “I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.”

Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. “He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.” But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand! 3

Appearances can be so deceiving, such a poor measure of a person. Admonished the Savior, “Judge not according to the appearance.” 4

A member of a women’s organization once complained when a certain woman was selected to represent the organization. She had never met the woman, but she had seen a photograph of her and didn’t like what she saw, considering her to be overweight. She commented, “Of the thousands of women in this organization, surely a better representative could have been chosen.”

True, the woman who was chosen was not “model slim.” But those who knew her and knew her qualities saw in her far more than was reflected in the photograph. The photograph did show that she had a friendly smile and a look of confidence. What the photograph didn’t show was that she was a loyal and compassionate friend, a woman of intelligence who loved the Lord and who loved and served His children. It didn’t show that she volunteered in the community and was a considerate and concerned neighbor. In short, the photograph did not reflect who she really was.

I ask: if attitudes, deeds, and spiritual inclinations were reflected in physical features, would the countenance of the woman who complained be as lovely as that of the woman she criticized?

My dear sisters, each of you is unique. You are different from each other in many ways. There are those of you who are married. Some of you stay at home with your children, while others of you work outside your homes. Some of you are empty nesters. There are those of you who are married but do not have children. There are those who are divorced, those who are widowed. Many of you are single women. Some of you have college degrees; some of you do not. There are those who can afford the latest fashions and those who are lucky to have one appropriate Sunday outfit. Such differences are almost endless. Do these differences tempt us to judge one another?

Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” 5 The Savior has admonished, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” 6 I ask: can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa: no, we cannot.

The Apostle James taught, “If any … among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s [or woman’s] religion is vain.” 7

I have always loved your Relief Society motto: “Charity never faileth.” 8 What is charity? The prophet Mormon teaches us that “charity is the pure love of Christ.” 9 In his farewell message to the Lamanites, Moroni declared, “Except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God.” 10

I consider charity—or “the pure love of Christ”—to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.

I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others.

There is a serious need for the charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, aid to those who are afflicted. True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere.

Needed is the charity which refuses to find satisfaction in hearing or in repeating the reports of misfortunes that come to others, unless by so doing, the unfortunate one may be benefited. The American educator and politician Horace Mann once said, “To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike.” 11

Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.

Charity, that pure love of Christ, is manifest when a group of young women from a singles ward travels hundreds of miles to attend the funeral services for the mother of one of their Relief Society sisters. Charity is shown when devoted visiting teachers return month after month, year after year to the same uninterested, somewhat critical sister. It is evident when an elderly widow is remembered and taken to ward functions and to Relief Society activities. It is felt when the sister sitting alone in Relief Society receives the invitation, “Come—sit by us.”

In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.

Charity has been defined as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love,” 12 the “pure love of Christ … ; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].” 13

“Charity never faileth.” May this long-enduring Relief Society motto, this timeless truth, guide you in everything you do. May it permeate your very souls and find expression in all your thoughts and actions.

I express my love to you, my sisters, and pray that heaven’s blessings may ever be yours. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes

  1. Matthew 7:1.
  2. Matthew 7:3.
  3. Adapted from Mary Bartels, “The Old Fisherman,” Guideposts, June 1965, 24–25.
  4. John 7:24.
  5. Mother Teresa, in R. M. Lala, A Touch of Greatness: Encounters with the Eminent (2001), x.
  6. John 15:12.
  7. James 1:26.
  8. 1 Corinthians 13:8.
  9. Moroni 7:47.
  10. Moroni 10:21.
  11. Horace Mann, Lectures on Education (1845), 297.
  12. Bible Dictionary, “Charity.”
  13. Moroni 7:47.

STILL HERE??? Wow, great job!

Alright, now lets see what it was like for one woman who had not applied the principles associated with making “righteous judgment”, and see what we can learn from her experience.

The Civility Experiment

Learn how civility and kindness go much deeper than appearances and quick judgments. (3:54)

Well, what did you learn today? I would LOVE to hear from you.

Please leave your thoughts or feelings about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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Judge Not

A excerpt from “Charity Never Faileth,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 122. (2:42)


#BOMTC Alma 30-31: Are You a Puppet or an Instrument?

In the Book of Mormon we learn about anti-Christs (Sherem in Jacob 7, and Nehor in Alma 1). One definition of anti-Christ is “anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that openly or secretly opposes Christ” (“Antichrist,” Guide to the Scripture). In Alma 30, another anti-Christ named Korihor teaches that there will be no Christ. Here is a very interesting and relevant quote from Sister Julie B. Beck, a former Relief Society General President:

Public policies are being made every day that are antifamily, and the definition of family is changing legally around the world. Pornography is rampant. For those who create pornography, their new target audience is young women. Parents are being portrayed as inept and out of touch. Antifamily media messages are everywhere. Youth are being desensitized about the need to form eternal families.

We see how this can happen when we read the words of Korihor, an anti-Christ: “Thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms” (Alma 30:18). Satan knows that he will never have a body; he will never have a family. So he targets young women, who will create the bodies for the future generations.

Korihor was an anti-Christ. Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle our youth hear from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. If our youth cease to believe in the righteous traditions of their fathers as did the people described in Mosiah 26, if our youth don’t understand their part in the plan, they could be led away. (“Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, March 2011. Emphasis added.)

As I read these chapters, one thing that stands to me is how our actions lead us to become either INSTRUMENTS in the hands of God or PUPPETS in the hands of Satan. Alma is an instrument (see Alma 29:9) while Korihor is a puppet (Alma 30:60). Think for a moment about the differences between being a puppet and being an instrument. Consider how Alma and Korihor respectively act as an instrument and a puppet as we review their story.

 All Things Denote There Is a God

(Alma 30) Korihor preaches against the prophecies of the coming of Christ. He seeks a sign to be convinced that there is a God. He is struck dumb.

Korihor’s false teachings led many to sin. He spoke against the leaders of the Church, claiming they were teaching “foolish traditions” (Alma 30:27. I refer to these as “Korihorrible teachings”). Alma taught him that all things testify of Christ. Korihor demanded that Alma show him a sign of God’s existence. In response, Korihor was struck dumb by the power of God and was convinced of the truth. Eventually, Korihor confessed that his actions were guided by the devil. Korihor asked Alma to pray so the curse could be removed from him. Alma said that if Korihor received the ability to speak, he would again teach false doctrine to the people. Korihor was cast out and went from house to house begging for food. Eventually he went to the Zoramites, who had dissented from the Nephites, and was trampled to death. Alma 30:60 teaches an important truth about what eventually happens to those who choose to be Satan’s puppets. Contrast that with the way the Lord preserves his instruments in Alma 19:23.

Alma (an instrument of God) also learned that the Nephite dissenters called the Zoramites (new puppets of Satan) had strayed from the truth of the gospel and fallen into false practices (see Alma 31). Saddened by these reports of wickedness, Alma took a group of missionaries (more instruments of God) to teach the word of God to the Zoramites. Alma and his companions witnessed the apostate worship services, materialism, and pride of the Zoramites. Alma prayed earnestly that the Lord would comfort him and his companions as they faced this challenge and that they would have success in bringing the Zoramites back to the Lord (It is interesting to contrast the prayer of Alma with that of the Zoramites upon the Rameumptom).

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught:

“Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence [PUPPET of Satan]. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love [INSTRUMENT of God]. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 25).

So, will you be a PUPPET or an INSTRUMENT? We now know the results for each!

Ready to Serve As An Instrument In God's Hands

Ready to Serve As An Instrument In God’s Hands

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#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531: “I Would Exhort You”

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, I Would Exhort You

I don’t like to take much of your time on the last day of the #BOMTC because I know many of you are trying to finish the Book of Mormon.

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Isaiah prophesies of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon

Moroni 10 contains the prophet Moroni’s final words before he sealed up the record to be brought forth by the gift and power of God.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (5)

About 1,400 years before Joseph Smith received the gold plates, Moroni concluded his father’s record by writing some final exhortations to those who would receive the Book of Mormon in the last days (see Moroni 10:1–2). The word exhort means to urge, advise, caution earnestly, admonish urgently. Moroni used the word nine times in the final chapter of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon Testimonies

Prophets and Apostles discuss the importance of gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. (3:46)

Moroni’s first exhortation can be found in Moroni 10:1–2, and “I would exhort you” to look for the remaining exhortations that Moroni felt inspired to include in this final chapter and consider which one applies to you and your current situation in life.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni 10~4 (1)

Perhaps the most well know exhortations extended by Moroni are those found in Moroni 10:3-5. These verses have always meant a lot to me. I am a living witness of the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (2)

As a young man I experimented with Moroni’s exhortations in relation to the Book of Mormon and I found the book to be true. As a father I have also exhorted my children to do the same. On one occasion my oldest son was finishing the Book of Mormon for the first time. He had made a goal for himself to read the entire Book of Mormon before he was baptized. He started on his 7th birthday and read 15 verses a day to finish by his 8th birthday. My wife or I would read each night with him, alternating verses. When we arrived at this second exhortation relating to the Book of Mormon I was reading with him. I asked him if he was going to accept Moroni’s challenge and pray to know for himself that the Book of Mormon is true. He casually responded that he was not going to do so. Surprised by his response, and a bit worried, I asked him why he wasn’t going to do it. With all of the innocence and sincerity of a seven-year-old, but with the wisdom of a sage, he responded with words along these lines:

“I don’t need to pray to know that the Book of Mormon is true. I already feel the Holy Ghost tell me that it is true every time I am reading it.”

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (4)

Well, what can I say to that? That was one of the most exciting moments as a parent that I had experienced up to that point. He is now 14 and has read the Book of Mormon several times since then and continues to affirm its truthfulness and helpfulness in his life (He is currently studying the New Testament in preparation for his first year of seminary). His sister followed his example and also read the Book of Mormon in the year preceding her baptism. She is completed it for the third time on her own as part of The Book of Mormon Translation Challenge 2014.

Mission Accomplished! Finished Reading the Book of Mormon on 8/17/14

Mission Accomplished! 3rd kiddo to finish reading the Book of Mormon (8/17/14)

My next oldest (our third child) also finished reading the Book of Mormon to prepare for his baptism. This year we are reading with my fourth child as he prepares for his baptism in October. I have two other young children that I pray will follow the example of their older siblings.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (1)

And that brings us to my personal exhortation for you with this final blog posting. When my oldest son finished the Book of Mormon that first time I asked him, “What will you read tomorrow?” and his response was, “I will start at the beginning of the Book of Mormon again.”

YAAAAY!!!

I will use the words of Moroni and President Henry B. Eyring to extend this extra exhortation to you:

And now my beloved blog-buddies, “I would exhort you” that when you have finished studying the Book of Mormon as part of the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge, that you would “go back to the Book of Mormon and drink deeply and often” because, “great faith has a short shelf life” (see “Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady“, Ensign, Nov. 2005).

And to those of you who may not have finished reading the Book of Mormon by June 30, “I would exhort you” to remember that it is the direction that you are headed and not the speed at which you are studying that is important on this journey to study the Book of Mormon. DON’T STOP STUDYING!

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni 10~32 (1)

Finally, THANK YOU!

  • Thank you for accepting the challenge to read the Book of Mormon in the time that it took Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to translate it.
  • Thank you for making time in your busy schedules to study this holy book–Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
  • Thank you for sharing your comments on this blog and on our Facebook Page/Group.
  • Thank you for inviting me into your life to share my thoughts and excitement for the Book of Mormon with you.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni 10~32

PLEASE leave a comment at the bottom of this post (or our Facebook Page or Facebook Group) letting me know that you FINISHED studying the Book of Mormon. I would like to add your names to the list on this blog of those who completed the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge.

A Book with a Promise

The Book of Mormon is a book with a promise. Although its history is compelling by itself, it is a book of scriptural significance that should be received and read under the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524: Moroni’s Handbook of Instructions

#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524, Moroni's Handbook of Instructions

I really wish that this post on Moroni 1-7 were something that we could just sit down together and discuss, with our scriptures open, ready to learn from each other.

From what I have observed, some people don’t really seem to appreciate these chapters of the Book of Mormon. So, I want to take a moment and look back at the chapter headings and consider what a “gold mine” we have in these small chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Moroni writes for the benefit of the Lamanites—The Nephites who will not deny Christ are put to death.
  • Chapter 2: Jesus gave the twelve Nephite disciples power to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • Chapter 3: Elders ordain priests and teachers by the laying on of hands.
  • Chapter 4: How elders and priests administer the sacramental bread is explained.
  • Chapter 5: The mode of administering the sacramental wine is set forth.
  • Chapter 6: Repentant persons are baptized and fellowshipped—Church members who repent are forgiven—Meetings are conducted by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  • Chapter 7: An invitation is given to enter into the rest of the Lord—Pray with real intent—The Spirit of Christ enables men to know good from evil—Satan persuades men to deny Christ and do evil—The prophets manifest the coming of Christ—By faith, miracles are wrought and angels minister—Men should hope for eternal life and cleave unto charity. About A.D. 401–421.

Do you see what I mean? That is not “milk” of the gospel type stuff; that is serious “meat and potatoes” gospel stuff. Sure, it may seem common place to us, BUT that is only because Moroni put it there in the first place and many of us have known it most of our lives!

Sometimes we don’t realize the value of what we have because we have always had it. But what we are really looking at in these chapters is what Moroni knew was essential, and he knew that these essentials were not yet found in the Book of Mormon. Indeed they are just as Moroni had hoped–they have been, and are, of great “worth” (Moroni 1:4).

Let’s see how these seemingly common-place teachings helped to bring about the marvelous restoration of Christ’s church in the latter days.

As I wrote in the title of this blog post, I like to refer to these chapters as, “Moroni’s Handbook of Instructions”. This handbook has both ecclesiastical and personal application. Let’s first take a look at the ecclesiastical aspect of it.

In Doctrine and Covenants 18:1-5 we find a “commandment” that was given to Oliver Cowdery. See if you can discover what that commandment was by taking a good look at those verses.

Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:

Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written are true; wherefore you know that they are true.

And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;

For in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.

Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Alright, so what was the “commandment” that Oliver was given? Yes, you can see the word “commandment” in verse 3. But you need to use verses 4-5 to really understand why he needed to “rely upon the things which are written“. Let me review those verses with you again with a little added detail:

Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:

Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18] are true; wherefore you know that they [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18] are true.

And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18];

For in them [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18] are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.

Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have preceded D&C 18], the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

The verse summary of D&C 18 also gives us a clue to the commandment given to Oliver:

1–5, Scriptures show how to build up the Church

Was that helpful? Are you starting to see the commandment that Oliver was given? In the article, “How the Revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants Were Received and Compiled” we learn that:

Most of the Christian churches located in New York at the time Joseph Smith received his first revelations had “confessions,” “creeds,” “platforms,” or “articles of faith.” These documents contained brief statements of basic beliefs, doctrine, duties of members, and other information useful to investigators and members. Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants (which was known as the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ during the first decade of the Church) has many parallels to the confessions of the Christian churches of the day and appears to have been written for the same purpose. It is composed of short statements about basic doctrines, ordinances, duties of members and priesthood bearers, and the baptismal and sacrament prayers.

What appears to be an early draft of the Articles and Covenants (in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting and dated in 1829) is in the Archives of the Historical Department of the Church. It is titled: “A True Copy of the articles of the Church of Christ.” Oliver Cowdery wrote at the beginning of this document that he composed it by commandment. If the procedure was the same then as now, such a commandment would have come through the Prophet [D&C 18:3]. This document contains quotations from the Book of Mormon and from earlier revelations [D&C 18:4-5]. Most of the Book of Mormon quotations are retained in the current form of section 20.

The existence of this document helps solve two matters concerning the text of section 20. First, when a comparison is made between the current text and various earlier printings of section 20, it is clear that this section has had numerous additions and deletions. For example, section 22 was included as part of this section when it was first published in the Evening and Morning Star. Similarly, verses 14–15, 41, 50–52, and 61–67 are either additions to the text or are verses that were completely revised over the years.

The second matter involves a letter that Oliver Cowdery wrote to Joseph Smith in July or August of 1830, asking that a part of verse 37 which he considered to be in error be taken out of the revelation. A portion of this early document is similar to verse 37 in section 20, but does not contain that part of the verse Oliver Cowdery wanted removed. The portion questioned by Oliver was later reinserted by the Prophet.

Thus, section 20 is an example of the principles taught in sections 67 and 68 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 67, we are informed that the revelations were given in the language of the Prophet Joseph Smith with all the normal imperfections of human communication. In section 68, we are told that when a servant of the Lord is moved upon by the Holy Ghost, what he says is the mind and the will of the Lord, and is scripture. The historical background of section 20, therefore, appears to be centered in an effort to put into words the basic beliefs and tenets of the Church. The document was drawn from earlier revealed sources and was thus inspired by the Spirit over a period of time; it is, therefore, scripture.

On 9 June 1830, the first conference of the Church was held as directed in the Articles and Covenants of the Church (section 20). The complete Articles and Covenants were read in this conference by Joseph Smith as one of the first items of business. This document was then received by the “unanimous voice of the whole congregation.” Thus, section 20 became the first revelation of this dispensation canonized by the Church. It was also the first revelation of this dispensation to be printed in the first edition, and was printed on the first page of the first newspaper of the Church, the Evening and Morning Star (vol. 1, no. 1, June 1832). From that point on, basic practices of the Church have been conducted in accordance with this section. In succeeding conferences, the Articles and Covenants were read in order that the Latter-day Saints might be reminded of the policies and procedures they were to follow.

So, here is what happened… In D&C 18:1-5, Oliver was commanded to take an active roll in creating the Articles and Covenants of the Church (D&C 20) by “rely[ing] upon the things which are written” in the Book of Mormon and the revelations that chronologically preceded D&C 18.

Now what parts of the Book of Mormon match up best with D&C 20? In the true spirit of discovery and seeking learning by faith, you may want to take a break from this post and study Moroni 2-6 as if you were Oliver Cowdery and had been commanded by the Lord to “rely upon the things which are written” to figure out how to organize Christ’s Church. As you do so, I would recommend that you mark anything that stands out to you.

Once you have completed your study, go to D&C 20 and look for the elements that you discovered in Moroni 2-6. I would encourage you to write the Book of Mormon references that you discovered with their companion scriptures in D&C 20. After my first read I found eight references in Moroni 2-6 that are directly correlated to companion scriptures in D&C 20. I am sure that there are more. See what you can discover for yourself!

These chapters from Moroni seem to have been inserted and intended to be of “worth” for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. However, as I mentioned before, we can also see these chapters as a Personal Handbook of Instructions.

To me, these chapters can serve as a handbook from Moroni on “How to Never Be Alone”. This man knows what it is like to be alone! He has been alone for a loooong time (it appears to be about 20 years). During that time long time alone he has protected the plates and added to them.

Now I know that Moroni’s intent in writing these chapters is not to be a handbook for how to never be alone. All I am doing is “likening” what is found in these chapters to things that the Lord has given us to help us never feel alone… even when we are.

Once again, in the spirit of discovery and seeking learning by faith, I invite you to study what is found in Moroni 1-7 and find what can help you to understand that you never have to feel alone when you live the gospel. This time you really will have to be like Oliver Cowdery, because there will be no supporting document to show you the right answers. You can do it! “Rely upon the things which are written,” and find what the Lord has given you in these chapters so that you never have to feel alone.

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#BOMTC Day 79, June 24~Ether 4-7 or Pages 495-500: “Commending Themselves unto the Lord”

#BOMTC Day 79, June 24~Ether 4-7 or Pages 495-500, Commending Themselves Unto the Lord

Click on the graphic to study Ether 4-7

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have always found the accounts in the book of Ether to be very easy to liken to my life. I find this particularly easy to do with Ether 6:1-12. Before you read what I have written for today, take a few moments to review Ether 6:1-12 and study it with the following perspective in mind: “If I am like a Jaredite vessel traveling toward the promised land of the Celestial Kingdom, then what can I learn from these verses about my journey through life?”

I will simply list a few selections from Ether 6:1-12 below and a brief thought about how I feel it applies to my life. You may want to make a similar list in your scriptures from your own insights:

  • he did put forth the stones into the vessels which were prepared, one in each end thereof; and behold, they did give light unto the vessels.
    • I like to compare these two stones to the “Light of Christ” and the “Holy Ghost”. Every person in the world can receive “light” from these two sources, which have been “prepared” by the Lord for our benefit.
  • thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.
  • when they had prepared all
    • I have to do everything that I can to be prepared for life.
  • they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.
    • I imagine it took a LOT of faith in God to get on/in those barges. As we undertook this journey of life in these earthly vessels, I imagine it took a LOT of faith as well. Now, each day when we continue our journey we need to make sure that we are “commending” (entrusting) ourselves to God with the same kind of faith every day.After all, isn’t that what our Savior Jesus Christ did every day, even unto His final breath? “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”   (Luke 23:46) What would our days be like if our morning prayers reflected the same commitment and desire?
  • the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land
    • Remember that when you feel like God is sending His furious wind, that it’s purpose is to move you “towards the promised land” of the Celestial Kingdom, not to blow you away.
  • thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
    • Yes, there will be some “tossing” going on, but remember that the Lord has “prepared” you for it! You may get “sea sick” of it all, but He will never allow you to be tossed more than you can handle.
  • they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
    • Sometimes we’re blown, sometimes we’re tossed, and then sometimes we are “buried”. BUT we are not dead! See the next one…
  • when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish
    • All the water in the world, 
      However hard it tried,
      Could never sink the smallest ship
      Unless it [gets] inside.
      And all the evil in the world,
      The blackest kind of sin,
      Can never hurt you the least bit
      Unless you let it in. (The Spirit of Revelation)
  • tight like unto the ark of Noah
    • Speaking to Noah, the Lord said, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” (Genesis 6:14) What is “pitch”? The word “pitch” in the original Hebrew translation of this passage is “kaphar” (verb), meaning: to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation. In other words, what gives us the ability to be “tight like unto a dish” and “like unto the ark of Noah” isn’t anything that we do for ourselves. It is conditional upon our willingness to “pitch” our lives “within and without with [the Atonement]”. If we do not “cover” ourselves with the Atonement, then when the wind blows, and the waves toss, and we are buried in the depths of the sea we will sink.
  • therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
    • See the explanation in the bullet-point above… Crying unto the Lord is one way that we can “kaphar” (Hebrew for “cover”) ourselves with the Atonement. As we do so God will bring us “forth again upon the top of the waters”. Joseph Smith once said,“Never be discouraged. If I were sunk in the lowest pit of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky Mountains piled on me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top,” (The Sure Sound of the Trumpet) as he did over and over, again.
  • the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters
    • God is mindful of me, and He will “never cease to blow [me] towards the promised land” of the Celestial Kingdom.
  • they did sing praises unto the Lord
    • My Grandma Simon gave me a lapel pin that says, “He who sings, prays twice!” I think that the Lord taught us the same principle when He revealed this truth to Emma Smith, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D&C 25:12) It seems that the two main methods that God has given us to “praise” Him is prayer and song. So remember what Grandma Simon taught me, “He who sings, prays twice!”
  • he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
    • It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters! The Brother of Jared had learned his lesson about remembering “not to call upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:14-15), so he knew how to react. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) “And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things.” (Mosiah 26:39)
  • no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them
    • Not only would God not allow that which He had caused to happen to hurt the Jaredites, but He also would not allow outside factors of the environment in which they were placed to “break” nor “mar” them. Even so it is with us. As you are blown, and tossed, and buried by God on the way to the promised land of the Celestial Kingdom, you will also be attacked by the “monsters” and “whales” surround you in the environment in which God has placed you. He knows that they are there, and He has provided a way for you to be safe from them.
  • they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
    • Indeed we do have access to the “Light of Christ” and the “Holy Ghost” continually, no matter what our circumstances may be. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it so well when he said, “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines. Whether you are not yet of our faith or were once with us and have not remained, there is nothing in either case you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoning. “Come boldly [to] the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1) at the table of the Lord. . . . My beloved brothers and sisters, to those of you who have been blessed by the gospel for many years because you were fortunate enough to find it early, and to those of you who have come to the gospel by stages and phases later, and finally to those of you—member or not yet member—who may still be hanging back, to each of you, one and all, I testify of the renewing power of God’s love and the miracle of His grace. His concern is for the faith at which you finally arrive, not the hour of the day in which you got there. So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.” (The Laborers in the Vineyard, emphasis added.)
  • they did land upon the shore of the promised land.
    • If we can but ENDURE TO THE END, and ENDURE IT WELL (as seen in the Jaredites example above), we too will someday find that we have landed “upon the shore” of the promised Celestial Kingdom! We don’t know how long that will take, and it may be a longer, harder trip for some, but we will ALL get there. Anyone can have Eternal Life, they just have to want it more than anything else! Elder Bruce C. Hafen said it this way: “We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more.” (Atonement: All for All)
  • when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.
    • And I imagine that is pretty much what you will see when/if you happen to see me arrive to our Celestial Home On High!

Remember to LIKEN the scriptures as you study them. Ask yourself, “What is that ‘like’ in my life?” As you do so, the Lord will be able to help you through this journey of mortality and land you safely upon the shores of the promised land that He has prepared for you. So stop sitting on the beach! (Ether 2:14) Get on with your journey and “commend” yourself to God. Endure to the end and endure it well as He blows, and tosses, and buries you toward the promised land!

#BOMTC Day 79, June 24~Ether 4-7 or Pages 495-500, Come Out On Top, Joseph Smith

ON THIS DAY IN 1829: Palmayra, New York. Joseph Smith showed the Eight Witnesses the gold plates near the Joseph Smith Sr. log home.

#BOMTC Day 79, June 24~Ether 4-7 or Pages 495-500, Ether 6_4-11 Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon

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#BOMTC Day 69, June 14~3 Nephi 14-16 or Pages 435-440: To Judge, or Not to Judge

#BOMTC Day 69, June 14~3 Nephi 14-16 or Pages 435-440, To Judge or Not to Judge

JUDGING: It’s a pretty delicate topic, right? I don’t want to create any confusion, contention, or conflicted feelings when people are done reading this post; so I better make sure that I don’t share my own opinion, but rather present the message the Lord has already given on this topic through His authorized Servants and sources.

I will share MANY resources today, not just because judging can be a sensitive topic, but mostly because it is such an IMPORTANT topi to understand. It is well worth our time to read/watch/listen to whatever the Lord has taught us about judging.

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed the following admonition to each of us:

“Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” (Joseph Smith Translation Matt. 7:1–2)

You will probably want to make sure that you have that footnote marked in your scriptures for Matthew 7:1-2, and you may want to include a reference for it at 3 Nephi 14:1-2.

Okay, so now what? Well, it seems to me that Christ illustrates exactly what he is talking about in 3 Nephi 14–ALL 27 verses. Pay attention to some of the words that are used by Jesus in this very chapter that show how He describes different types of people:

  • hypocrite
  • dogs
  • swine
  • false prophets
  • ravening wolves
  • corrupt tree
  • ye that work iniquity
  • foolish man

At first it may seem strange to us that Jesus, the one who is love, would use such words to describe others, but that is exactly what He did. He taught us how to make “righteous judgment” (intermediate judgment), but to withhold “final judgement”.

#BOMTC Day 69, June 14~3 Nephi 14-16 or Pages 435-440, Mote VS Beam (1)

3 Nephi 13:3-5

Learning to make righteous intermediate judgment is so important, because if we do not we will suffer the consequences that the Savior also spoke of in these verses:

“lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you, which leadeth to destruction, cast into the fire, depart from me, and great was the fall of it.”

So out of all the topics in 3 Nephi 14-16, I feel that the most important thing that I can do is share MANY resources with you that will help you to understand and learn to make righteous intermediate judgments.

PLEASE, take your time to try and understand EVERYTHING included in this post before you pass judgment on it and send angry comments my way. My desire is not to cause problems or create controversy. I just want to help all of us understand how to do exactly what Jesus has asked us to do, so that we can be like those in this chapter whom He judged as being a “good tree” and a “wise man“.

So here we go! You may have to bookmark this page and come back to it later if you do not have a good amount of time to put some serious study into this soul-saving topic.

Lets begin with what has been posted on the TOPICS page on LDS.ORG under “Judging Others“:

“Judgment is an important use of our agency and requires great care, especially when we make judgments about other people. All our judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.

“Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that we should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, we will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives. The Lord has given many commandments that we cannot keep without making judgments. For example, He has said: “Beware of false prophets. . . . Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16) and “Go ye out from among the wicked” (D&C 38:42). We need to make judgments of people in many of our important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing a spouse.

“The Lord gave a warning to guide us in our judgment of others: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 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 the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (3 Nephi 14:2-5).

#BOMTC Day 69, June 14~3 Nephi 14-16 or Pages 435-440, Mote VS Beam

“In this scripture passage the Lord teaches that a fault we see in another is often like a tiny speck in that person’s eye, compared to our own faults, which are like an enormous beam in our eyes. Sometimes we focus on others’ faults when we should instead be working to improve ourselves.

“Our righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for us and our families. We should approach any such judgment with care and compassion. As much as we can, we should judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, we should refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. And we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide our decisions. Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton is a helpful reminder: “See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually” (Alma 41:14).”

I love the simplicity and applicability of that entry!

The Guide to the Scriptures defines Judgement as to following: To evaluate behavior in relation to the principles of the gospel; to decide; to discern good from evil.” It also provides LOTS of scriptures that define, describe, and illustrate righteous intermediate judgment.

My next favorite resource that helps me understand how to make righteous intermediate judgement come from a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, given on 1 March 1998 at Brigham Young University entitled, ““Judge Not” and Judging“. Something to keep in mind is that Elder Oaks served on the Supreme Court for the State of Utah, and that he spent is “professional life” studying, teaching, and practicing the law on which our society judges.

“Judge Not” and Judging

There are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles.

As a student of the scriptures and as a former judge, I have had a special interest in the many scriptures that refer to judging. The best known of these is “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (3 Ne. 14:1Matt. 7:1).

I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. I will speak about gospel judging.

Final Judgments

First, I speak of the final judgment. This is that future occasion in which all of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to our works (see 1 Ne. 15:333 Ne. 27:15Morm. 3:20D&C 19:3). Some Christians look on this as the time when individuals are assigned to heaven or hell. With the increased understanding we have received from the Restoration, Latter-day Saints understand the final judgment as the time when all mankind will receive their personal dominions in the mansions prepared for them in the various kingdoms of glory (see D&C 76:111John 14:21 Cor. 15:40–44). I believe that the scriptural command to “judge not” refers most clearly to this final judgment, as in the Book of Mormon declaration that “man shall not … judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord” (Morm. 8:20).

Since mortals cannot suppose that they will be acting as final judges at that future, sacred time, why did the Savior command that we not judge final judgments? I believe this commandment was given because we presume to make final judgments whenever we proclaim that any particular person is going to hell (or to heaven) for a particular act or as of a particular time. When we do this—and there is great temptation to do so—we hurt ourselves and the person we pretend to judge.

The effect of one mortal’s attempting to pass final judgment on another mortal is analogous to the effect on an athlete and observers if we could proclaim the outcome of an athletic contest with certainty while it was still under way. A similar reason forbids our presuming to make final judgments on the outcome of any person’s lifelong mortal contest.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; … He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, … ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,’ those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 218).

Thus, we must refrain from making final judgments on people because we lack the knowledge and the wisdom to do so. We would even apply the wrong standards. The world’s way is to judge competitively between winners and losers. The Lord’s way of final judgment will be to apply His perfect knowledge of the law a person has received and to judge on the basis of that person’s circumstances, motives, and actions throughout his or her entire life (see Luke 12:47–48John 15:222 Ne. 9:25).

Even the Savior, during His mortal ministry, refrained from making final judgments. We see this in the account of the woman taken in adultery. After the crowd who intended to stone her had departed, Jesus asked her about her accusers. “Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10). When she answered no, Jesus declared, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). In this context the word condemn apparently refers to the final judgment (see John 3:17).

The Lord obviously did not justify the woman’s sin. He simply told her that He did not condemn her—that is, He would not pass final judgment on her at that time. This interpretation is confirmed by what He then said to the Pharisees: “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man” (John 8:15). The woman taken in adultery was granted time to repent, time that would have been denied by those who wanted to stone her.

The Savior gave this same teaching on another occasion: “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).

From all of this we see that the final judgment is the Lord’s and that mortals must refrain from judging any human being in the final sense of concluding or proclaiming that he or she is irretrievably bound for hell or has lost all hope of exaltation.

Intermediate Judgments

In contrast to forbidding mortals to make final judgments, the scriptures require mortals to make what I will call “intermediate judgments.” These judgments are essential to the exercise of personal moral agency. Our scriptural accounts of the Savior’s mortal life provide the pattern. He declared, “I have many things to say and to judge of you” (John 8:26) and “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see” (John 9:39).

During His mortal ministry the Savior made and acted upon many intermediate judgments, such as when He told the Samaritan woman of her sinful life (see John 4:17–19), when He rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy (see Matt. 15:1–9Matt. 23:1–33), and when He commented on the comparative merit of the offerings of the rich men and of the widow’s mites (see Mark 12:41–44).

Church leaders are specifically commanded to judge. Thus, the Lord said to Alma: “Whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also. …

“… And whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people” (Mosiah 26:29, 32).

Similarly, in modern revelation the Lord appointed the bishop to be a “judge in Israel” to judge over property and transgressions (D&C 58:17;D&C 107:72).

The Savior also commanded individuals to be judges, both of circumstances and of other people. Through the prophet Moses, the Lord commanded Israel, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour” (Lev. 19:15).

On one occasion the Savior chided the people, “Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” (Luke 12:57). On another occasion he said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

We must, of course, make judgments every day in the exercise of our moral agency, but we must be careful that our judgments of people are intermediate and not final. Thus, our Savior’s teachings contain many commandments we cannot keep without making intermediate judgments of people: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matt. 7:6); “Beware of false prophets. … Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15–16); and “Go ye out from among the wicked” (D&C 38:42).

We all make judgments in choosing our friends, in choosing how we will spend our time and our money, and, of course, in choosing an eternal companion. Some of these intermediate judgments are surely among those the Savior referenced when He taught that “the weightier matters of the law” include judgment (Matt. 23:23).

The scriptures not only command or contemplate that we will make intermediate judgments but also give us some guidance—some governing principles—on how to do so.

Righteous Intermediate Judgment

The most fundamental principle is contained in the Savior’s commandment that we “judge not unrighteously, … but judge righteous judgment” (JST, Matt. 7:1–2, footnote a; see also John 7:24Alma 41:14). Let us consider some principles or ingredients that lead to a “righteous judgment.”

First, a righteous judgment must, by definition, be intermediate. It will refrain from declaring that a person has been assured of exaltation or from dismissing a person as being irrevocably bound for hellfire. It will refrain from declaring that a person has forfeited all opportunity for exaltation or even all opportunity for a useful role in the work of the Lord. The gospel is a gospel of hope, and none of us is authorized to deny the power of the Atonement to bring about a cleansing of individual sins,forgiveness, and a reformation of life on appropriate conditions.

Second, a righteous judgment will be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, not by anger, revenge, jealousy, or self-interest. The Book of Mormon teaches: “For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain … as the daylight is from the dark night.

“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moro. 7:15–16).

The Savior taught that one of the missions of the Comforter He would send would be to assist in the judgment of the world by guiding the faithful “into all truth” (John 16:13; see also John 16:8, 11).

Third, to be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. We should not presume to exercise and act upon judgments that are outside our personal responsibilities. Some time ago I attended an adult Sunday School class in a small town in Utah. The subject was thesacrament, and the class was being taught by the bishop. During class discussion a member asked, “What if you see an unworthy person partaking of the sacrament? What do you do?” The bishop answered, “You do nothing. I may need to do something.” That wise answer illustrates my point about stewardship in judging.

Fourth, we should, if possible, refrain from judging until we have adequate knowledge of the facts. In an essay titled “Sitting in the Seat of Judgment,” the great essayist William George Jordan reminded us that character cannot be judged as dress goods—by viewing a sample yard to represent a whole bolt of cloth (see The Crown of Individuality [1909], 101–5).

In another essay he wrote: “There is but one quality necessary for the perfect understanding of character, one quality that, if man have it, he may dare to judge—that is, omniscience. Most people study character as a proofreader pores over a great poem: his ears are dulled to the majesty and music of the lines, his eyes are darkened to the magic imagination of the genius of the author; that proofreader is busy watching for an inverted comma, a misspacing, or a wrong font letter. He has an eye trained for the imperfections, the weaknesses. …

“We do not need to judge nearly so much as we think we do. This is the age of snap judgments. … [We need] the courage to say, ‘I don’t know. I am waiting further evidence. I must hear both sides of the question.’ It is this suspended judgment that is the supreme form of charity” (“The Supreme Charity of the World,” The Kingship of Self-Control [n.d.], 27–30; emphasis in original).

Someone has said that you cannot slice cheese so fine that it doesn’t have two sides.

Two experiences illustrate the importance of caution in judging. A Relief Society worker visiting a sister in her ward asked whether the woman’s married children ever visited her. Because of a short-term memory loss, this elderly sister innocently answered no. So informed, her visitor and others spoke criticisms of her children for neglecting their mother. In fact, one of her children visited her at least daily, and all of them helped her in many ways. They were innocent of neglect and should not have been judged on the basis of an inadequate knowledge of the facts.

Another such circumstance was described in an Ensign article by BYU professor Arthur R. Bassett. He stated that while teaching an institute class, “I was troubled when one person whispered to another all through the opening prayer. The guilty parties were not hard to spot because they continued whispering all through the class. I kept glaring at them, hoping that they would take the hint, but they didn’t seem to notice. Several times during the hour, I was tempted to ask them to take their conversation outside if they felt it was so urgent—but fortunately something kept me from giving vent to my feelings.

“After the class, one of them came to me and apologized that she hadn’t explained to me before class that her friend was deaf. The friend could read lips, but since I was discussing—as I often do—with my back to the class, writing at the chalkboard and talking over my shoulder, my student had been ‘translating’ for her friend, telling her what I was saying. To this day I am thankful that both of us were spared the embarrassment that might have occurred had I given vent to a judgment made without knowing the facts” (“Floods, Winds, and the Gates of Hell,” Ensign, June 1991, 8).

The scriptures give a specific caution against judging where we cannot know all the facts. King Benjamin taught:

“Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

“But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. …

“And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance” (Mosiah 4:17–18, 22).

There is one qualification to this principle that we should not judge people without an adequate knowledge of the facts. Sometimes urgent circumstances require us to make preliminary judgments before we can get all of the facts we desire for our decision making.

From time to time some diligent defenders deny this reality, such as the writer of a letter to the editor who insisted that certain publicly reported conduct should be ignored because “in this country you are innocent until you are proven guilty.” The presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law is a vital rule to guide the conduct of a criminal trial, but it is not a valid restraint on personal decisions. There are important restraints upon our intermediate judgments, but the presumption of innocence is not one of them.

Some personal decisions must be made before we have access to all of the facts. Two hypotheticals illustrate this principle: (1) If a particular person has been arrested for child sexual abuse and is free on bail awaiting trial on his guilt or innocence, would you trust him to tend your children while you take a weekend trip? (2) If a person you have trusted with your property has been indicted for embezzlement, would you continue to leave him in charge of your life savings? In such circumstances we do the best we can, relying ultimately on the teaching in modern scripture that we should put our “trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously” (D&C 11:12).

fifth principle of a righteous intermediate judgment is that whenever possible we will refrain from judging people and only judge situations. This is essential whenever we attempt to act upon different standards than others with whom we must associate—at home, at work, or in the community. We can set and act upon high standards for ourselves or our homes without condemning those who do otherwise.

For example, I know of an LDS family with an older teenage son who has become addicted to smoking. The parents have insisted that he not smoke in their home or in front of his younger siblings. That is a wise judgment of a situation, not a person. Then, even as the parents take protective measures pertaining to a regrettable situation, they need to maintain loving relations and encourage improved conduct by the precious person.

In an Ensign article, an anonymous victim of childhood sexual abuse illustrates the contrast between judging situations and judging persons. The article begins with heart-wrenching words and with true statements of eternal principles:

“I am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I no longer view myself as a victim. The change has come from inside me—my attitude. I do not need to destroy myself with anger and hate. I don’t need to entertain thoughts of revenge. My Savior knows what happened. He knows the truth. He can make the judgments and the punishments. He will be just. I will leave it in his hands. I will not be judged for what happened to me, but I will be judged by how I let it affect my life. I am responsible for my actions and what I do with my knowledge. I am not to blame for what happened to me as a child. I cannot change the past. But I can change the future. I have chosen to heal myself and pass on to my children what I have learned. The ripples in my pond will spread through future generations” (“The Journey to Healing,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 19).

Sixth,forgiveness is a companion principle to the commandment that in final judgments we judge not and in intermediate judgments we judge righteously. The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). In modern revelation the Lord has declared, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).

Pursuing that principle, the author of the Ensign article writes: “Somewhere along the journey of healing comes the essential task of forgiving. Often the command to forgive (see D&C 64:10) seems almost more than one can bear, but this eternal principle can bring lasting peace.”

The Ensign article quotes another survivor of abuse: “I love that truth that although I need to evaluate situations, … I do not need to condemn or judge my abusers nor be part of the punishment. I leave all that to the Lord. I used the principle of forgiveness to strengthen me” (Ensign, Sept. 1997, 22).

Seventh, a final ingredient or principle of a righteous judgment is that it will apply righteous standards. If we apply unrighteous standards, our judgment will be unrighteous. By falling short of righteous standards, we place ourselves in jeopardy of being judged by incorrect or unrighteous standards ourselves. The fundamental scripture on the whole subject of not judging contains this warning: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2; see also 3 Ne. 14:2).

The prophet Mormon taught, “Seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged” (Moro. 7:18).

A standard can be unrighteous because it is too harsh—the consequences are too severe for the gravity of the wrong and the needs of the wrongdoer. I remember a conversation with an LDS newspaperwoman who described what happened when she reported that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the golden plates in 1826, a mistake of one year from the actual date of 1827. She said she received about 10 phone calls from outraged Latter-day Saints who would not accept her admission of error and sincere apology and even berated her with abusive language. I wonder if persons who cannot handle an honest mistake without abusing the individual can stand up to having their own mistakes judged by so severe a standard.

In a BYU devotional address, Professor Catherine Corman Parry gave a memorable scriptural illustration of the consequences of judging by the wrong standards. The scripture is familiar. Martha received Jesus into her house and worked to provide for Him while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His words.

“But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40–42).

Professor Parry said: “The Lord acknowledges Martha’s care: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things’ (Luke 10:41). Then he delivers the gentle but clear rebuke. But the rebuke would not have come had Martha not prompted it. The Lord did not go into the kitchen and tell Martha to stop cooking and come listen. Apparently he was content to let her serve him however she cared to, until she judged another person’s service: ‘Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me’ (Luke 10:40). Martha’s self-importance, expressed through her judgment of her sister, occasioned the Lord’s rebuke, not her busyness with the meal” (“‘Simon, I Have Somewhat to Say unto Thee’: Judgment and Condemnation in the Parables of Jesus,” in Brigham Young University 1990–91 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1991], 116).

In subsequent portions of her talk, Professor Parry observed that in this instance—and also in the example of Simon the Pharisee, who criticized the woman who anointed the feet of the Savior (see Luke 7:36–50)—the Savior took one individual’s judgment of another individual as a standard and applied that judgment back upon the individual who was judging. “Quite literally,” she observes, “they were measured by their own standards and found wanting.

“… While there are many things we must make judgments about, the sins of another or the state of our own souls in comparison to others seems not to be among them. … Our own sins, no matter how few or seemingly insignificant, disqualify us as judges of other people’s sins” (“Simon, I Have Somewhat to Say unto Thee,” 116, 118–19).

I love the words in Susan Evans McCloud’s familiar hymn:

Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.

(“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220)

In one of the monthly General Authority fast and testimony meetings, I heard President James E. Faust say, “The older I get, the less judgmental I become.” That wise observation gives us a standard to live by in the matter of judgments. We should refrain from anything that seems to be a final judgment of any person, manifesting our determination to leave final judgments to the Lord, who alone has the capacity to judge.

In the intermediate judgments we must make, we should take care to judge righteously. We should seek the guidance of the Spirit in our decisions. We should limit our judgments to our own stewardships. Whenever possible we should refrain from judging people until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. So far as possible, we should judge circumstances rather than people. In all our judgments we should apply righteous standards. And, in all of this we must remember the command to forgive.

There is a doctrine underlying the subject of gospel judging. It was taught when a lawyer asked the Savior, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt. 22:36). Jesus answered:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).

Later, in the sublime teachings the Savior gave His Apostles on the eve of His suffering and Atonement, He said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34–35).

May God bless us that we may have that love and that we may show it in refraining from making final judgments of our fellowman. In those intermediate judgments we are responsible to make, may we judge righteously and with love. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love. Our Master whom we seek to serve is, as the scriptures say, a “God of love” (2 Cor. 13:11). May we be examples of His love and His gospel.

Now, if you have made it to this point, then you are probably pretty serious about understanding this topic and making sure that you apply it appropriately in your life. CONGRATULATIONS!

The next resource that I am going to share seems to negate what Elder Oaks taught, but it doesn’t. It is however a great way to evaluate how balanced we are when it comes to making righteous intermediate judgments. The expert is from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy“. (Click on the link to read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)

Judging Others? Stop It!

“This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

“Stop it!

“It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

“We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

“Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven? . . .

“The people around us are not perfect (see Romans 3:23). People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.

“Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy“)

Are you still with me? AWESOME!

Take a moment to consider what you have learned and felt. Pause to ponder what you need to change in your life right now to begin to implement the Lord’s admonition to make “righteous judgement”. Did you realize that by doing that you are actually making a righteous judgment of yourself?

This following short video is a great illustration of the the principles taught by both Elder Oaks and President Uchtdorf in relation to making “righteous judgment”. It was derived from a talk given by President Thomas S. Monson, entitled,  “Charity Never Faileth” (Ensign, Nov. 2010).

Looking through Windows

We should be careful how we judge others, as we may be looking at them through our own “unclean windows.” Read President Monson’s full address, “Charity Never Faileth”

It is always best to analyze a message in it’s full context, so I am providing President Monson’s talk below with the hope that you will be able to apply his message with greater success.

Charity Never Faileth

Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.

Our souls have rejoiced tonight and reached toward heaven. We have been blessed with beautiful music and inspired messages. The Spirit of the Lord is here. I pray for His inspiration to be with me now as I share with you some of my thoughts and feelings.

I begin with a short anecdote which illustrates a point I should like to make.

A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.

“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”

John looked on but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash 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 neighbor’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!”

Tonight I’d like to share with you a few thoughts concerning how we view each other. 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 judgments do we make about them?

Said the Savior, “Judge not.” 1 He continued, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” 2 Or, to paraphrase, why beholdest thou what you think is dirty laundry at your neighbor’s house but considerest not the soiled window in your own house?

None of us is perfect. I know of no one who would profess to be so. And yet for some reason, despite our own imperfections, we have a tendency to point out those of others. We make judgments 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 criticize. Thus the commandment: “Judge not.”

Forty-seven years ago this general conference, I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At the time, I had been serving on one of the general priesthood committees of the Church, and so before my name was presented, I sat with my fellow members of that priesthood committee, as was expected of me. My wife, however, had no idea where to go and no one with whom she could sit and, in fact, was unable to find a seat anywhere in the Tabernacle. A dear friend of ours, who was a member of one of the general auxiliary boards and who was sitting in the area designated for the board members, asked Sister Monson to sit with her. This woman knew nothing of my call—which would be announced shortly—but she spotted Sister Monson, recognized her consternation, and graciously offered her a seat. My dear wife was relieved and grateful for this kind gesture. Sitting down, however, she heard loud whispering behind her as one of the board members expressed her annoyance to those around her that one of her fellow board members would have the audacity to invite an “outsider” to sit in this area reserved only for them. There was no excuse for her unkind behavior, regardless of who might have been invited to sit there. However, I can only imagine how that woman felt when she learned that the “intruder” was the wife of the newest Apostle.

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.

A classic account of judging by appearance was printed in a national magazine many years ago. It is a true account—one which you may have heard but which bears repeating.

A woman by the name of Mary Bartels had a home directly across the street from the entrance to a hospital clinic. Her family lived on the main floor and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.

One evening a truly awful-looking old man came to the door asking if there was room for him to stay the night. He was stooped and shriveled, and his face was lopsided from swelling—red and raw. He said he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success. “I guess it’s my face,” he said. “I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says it could possibly improve after more treatments.” He indicated he’d be happy to sleep in the rocking chair on the porch. As she talked with him, Mary realized this little old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. Although her rooms were filled, she told him to wait in the chair and she’d find him a place to sleep.

At bedtime Mary’s husband set up a camp cot for the man. When she checked in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and he was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, he asked if he could return the next time he had a treatment. “I won’t put you out a bit,” he promised. “I can sleep fine in a chair.” Mary assured him he was welcome to come again.

In the several years he went for treatments and stayed in Mary’s home, the old man, who was a fisherman by trade, always had gifts of seafood or vegetables from his garden. Other times he sent packages in the mail.

When Mary received these thoughtful gifts, she often thought of a comment her next-door neighbor made after the disfigured, stooped old man had left Mary’s home that first morning. “Did you keep that awful-looking man last night? I turned him away. You can lose customers by putting up such people.”

Mary knew that maybe they had lost customers once or twice, but she thought, “Oh, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.”

After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, “I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.”

Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. “He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.” But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand! 3

Appearances can be so deceiving, such a poor measure of a person. Admonished the Savior, “Judge not according to the appearance.” 4

A member of a women’s organization once complained when a certain woman was selected to represent the organization. She had never met the woman, but she had seen a photograph of her and didn’t like what she saw, considering her to be overweight. She commented, “Of the thousands of women in this organization, surely a better representative could have been chosen.”

True, the woman who was chosen was not “model slim.” But those who knew her and knew her qualities saw in her far more than was reflected in the photograph. The photograph did show that she had a friendly smile and a look of confidence. What the photograph didn’t show was that she was a loyal and compassionate friend, a woman of intelligence who loved the Lord and who loved and served His children. It didn’t show that she volunteered in the community and was a considerate and concerned neighbor. In short, the photograph did not reflect who she really was.

I ask: if attitudes, deeds, and spiritual inclinations were reflected in physical features, would the countenance of the woman who complained be as lovely as that of the woman she criticized?

My dear sisters, each of you is unique. You are different from each other in many ways. There are those of you who are married. Some of you stay at home with your children, while others of you work outside your homes. Some of you are empty nesters. There are those of you who are married but do not have children. There are those who are divorced, those who are widowed. Many of you are single women. Some of you have college degrees; some of you do not. There are those who can afford the latest fashions and those who are lucky to have one appropriate Sunday outfit. Such differences are almost endless. Do these differences tempt us to judge one another?

Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” 5 The Savior has admonished, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” 6 I ask: can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa: no, we cannot.

The Apostle James taught, “If any … among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s [or woman’s] religion is vain.” 7

I have always loved your Relief Society motto: “Charity never faileth.” 8 What is charity? The prophet Mormon teaches us that “charity is the pure love of Christ.” 9 In his farewell message to the Lamanites, Moroni declared, “Except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God.” 10

I consider charity—or “the pure love of Christ”—to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.

I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others.

There is a serious need for the charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, aid to those who are afflicted. True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere.

Needed is the charity which refuses to find satisfaction in hearing or in repeating the reports of misfortunes that come to others, unless by so doing, the unfortunate one may be benefited. The American educator and politician Horace Mann once said, “To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike.” 11

Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.

Charity, that pure love of Christ, is manifest when a group of young women from a singles ward travels hundreds of miles to attend the funeral services for the mother of one of their Relief Society sisters. Charity is shown when devoted visiting teachers return month after month, year after year to the same uninterested, somewhat critical sister. It is evident when an elderly widow is remembered and taken to ward functions and to Relief Society activities. It is felt when the sister sitting alone in Relief Society receives the invitation, “Come—sit by us.”

In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.

Charity has been defined as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love,” 12 the “pure love of Christ … ; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].” 13

“Charity never faileth.” May this long-enduring Relief Society motto, this timeless truth, guide you in everything you do. May it permeate your very souls and find expression in all your thoughts and actions.

I express my love to you, my sisters, and pray that heaven’s blessings may ever be yours. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes

  1. Matthew 7:1.
  2. Matthew 7:3.
  3. Adapted from Mary Bartels, “The Old Fisherman,” Guideposts, June 1965, 24–25.
  4. John 7:24.
  5. Mother Teresa, in R. M. Lala, A Touch of Greatness: Encounters with the Eminent (2001), x.
  6. John 15:12.
  7. James 1:26.
  8. 1 Corinthians 13:8.
  9. Moroni 7:47.
  10. Moroni 10:21.
  11. Horace Mann, Lectures on Education (1845), 297.
  12. Bible Dictionary, “Charity.”
  13. Moroni 7:47.

STILL HERE??? Wow, great job!

Alright, now lets see what it was like for one woman who had not applied the principles associated with making “righteous judgment”, and see what we can learn from her experience.

The Civility Experiment

Learn how civility and kindness go much deeper than appearances and quick judgments. (3:54)

Well, what did you learn today? I would LOVE to hear from you.

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Judge Not

A excerpt from “Charity Never Faileth,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 122. (2:42)


#BOMTC Day 45, May 21~Alma 30-31 or Pages 280-286: Are You a Puppet or an Instrument?

#BOMTC Day 45, May 21~Alma 30-31 or Pages 280-286 (2)

Click graphic to read Alma 30-31

Previously we studied about the anti-Christs Sherem (see Jacob 7) and Nehor (see Alma 1). One definition of anti-Christ is “anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that openly or secretly opposes Christ” (“Antichrist,”). In Alma 30, an anti-Christ named Korihor began to preach that there would be no Christ.

Here is a very interesting and relevant quote from Sister Julie B. Beck, a previous Relief Society General President:

Public policies are being made every day that are antifamily, and the definition of family is changing legally around the world. Pornography is rampant. For those who create pornography, their new target audience is young women. Parents are being portrayed as inept and out of touch. Antifamily media messages are everywhere. Youth are being desensitized about the need to form eternal families.

We see how this can happen when we read the words of Korihor, an anti-Christ: “Thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms” (Alma 30:18). Satan knows that he will never have a body; he will never have a family. So he targets young women, who will create the bodies for the future generations.

Korihor was an anti-Christ. Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle our youth hear from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. If our youth cease to believe in the righteous traditions of their fathers as did the people described in Mosiah 26, if our youth don’t understand their part in the plan, they could be led away. (“Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, March 2011. Emphasis added.)

As I read these chapters, one thing that stands to me is how our actions lead us to become either INSTRUMENTS in the hands of God or PUPPETS in the hands of Satan. Alma is an instrument (see Alma 29:9) while Korihor is a puppet (Alma 30:60). Think for a moment about the differences between being a puppet and being an instrument. Consider how Alma and Korihor respectively act as an instrument and a puppet as we review their story.

 All Things Denote There Is a God

(Alma 30) Korihor preaches against the prophecies of the coming of Christ. He seeks a sign to be convinced that there is a God. He is struck dumb.

Korihor’s false teachings led many to sin. He spoke against the leaders of the Church, claiming they were teaching “foolish traditions” (Alma 30:27. I refer to these as “Korihorrible teachings”). Alma taught him that all things testify of Christ. Korihor demanded that Alma show him a sign of God’s existence. In response, Korihor was struck dumb by the power of God and was convinced of the truth. Eventually, Korihor confessed that his actions were guided by the devil. Korihor asked Alma to pray so the curse could be removed from him. Alma said that if Korihor received the ability to speak, he would again teach false doctrine to the people. Korihor was cast out and went from house to house begging for food. Eventually he went to the Zoramites, who had dissented from the Nephites, and was trampled to death. Alma 30:60 teaches an important truth about what eventually happens to those who choose to be Satan’s puppets. Contrast that with the way the Lord preserves his instruments in Alma 19:23.

Alma (an instrument of God) also learned that the Nephite dissenters called the Zoramites (new puppets of Satan) had strayed from the truth of the gospel and fallen into false practices (see Alma 31). Saddened by these reports of wickedness, Alma took a group of missionaries (more instruments of God) to teach the word of God to the Zoramites. Alma and his companions witnessed the apostate worship services, materialism, and pride of the Zoramites. Alma prayed earnestly that the Lord would comfort him and his companions as they faced this challenge and that they would have success in bringing the Zoramites back to the Lord (It is interesting to contrast the prayer of Alma with that of the Zoramites upon the Rameumptom).

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught:

“Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence [PUPPET of Satan]. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love [INSTRUMENT of God]. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 25).

So, will you be a PUPPET or an INSTRUMENT? We now know the results for each!

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