It is always easier to view another person’s life, and to oftentimes make rash judgments about that person, as an outsider looking in. From where we sit and the view which we have, we unfortunately only get the tip of the iceberg as far as really getting to know the person, and only a thimble full, if that, of knowing what makes that person the way that they are.
Every person’s life is uniquely different. We cannot make unmerited judgments about a person, or adequately vocalize our opinions about how we think that person should be living their life, when we do not know, nor fully understand all the ramifications and consequences that govern and surround that person’s life.
We have no God-given right to assume anything about a person until we have at least taken the time to get to know that person. In getting to know that person we may need to close our mouths and open our ears and listen to what that person has to say realizing that his or her life experiences are not necessarily comparable to our own. In other words there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. There is a time to be the voice in a conversation and a time to be the attentive listening ears. There is a time to be the teacher and impart knowledge, and there is a time to be the student who is taught and takes careful notes.
In order to gain even a miniscule amount of understanding another person’s life we need to try walking a mile in their shoes, and view the world through their eyes, and then perhaps we will not be so quick to make undue judgments or formulate absurd opinions about that person.
We must learn to respect and treat everyone as we would want to be treated and respected. If we would not want other people to make hasty judgments or formulate undue opinions about us, then we should not do so to them.
~ Keith Lionel Brown
Scripture References: Romans 14:3, 10, 13
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Whether we are realize it or not, we live in a very judgmental world. We are all judged in one way or another — by the way we talk, the way we walk, the way we dress, the way we act or react in given situations, the people we associate with, the car we drive, the house we live in, the music we listen to, the type of job we have, our level of education, and on the list goes. Not only are we judged, but whether we are willing to admit it or not, we all tend to be a bit judgmental at times of others for one reason or another. The act of judging even reaches into the Church. Often times the level of someone’s faithfulness as a member is unfairly based on the perceptions of others. Too often we are quick to criticize what we think someone else is doing wrong, but fail to see, or refuse to admit, our own short comings.
Before rushing to judge someone else, we should take a step back and place ourselves on the witness stand and do a little cross examination of our own lives. What makes us so holy, righteous and perfect? Are we doing everything that we are supposed to do to live up to the standards that we use in judging the behaviors of others?
During the cross examination of our lives we should perhaps ask ourselves questions similar to the following:
First, is the type of music that I listen to uplifting and edifying? Are the lyrics of the songs in harmony with gospel principles that I have been taught, and does the music I am listening to help to strengthen my testimony in any way? Is this the type of music that I would feel comfortable listening to if my church leaders or other church members were around to hear? Is the music that I am listening to really any better than the music that someone else listens to, and I am quick to judge them for listening to that type of music?
Second, are the types of movies that I watch in harmony with my standards and beliefs? Are they edifying and uplifting? Do I use wisdom and discernment in choosing the types of movies that I watch? Or, do I turn a deaf ear and a blind eye and dismiss the fact that there may be such things as nudity and profanity in the movie, or even an excessive amount of violence? What exactly do I consider to be a good movie? Are some of my movie choices really that different from the ones that I criticize and judge others for watching?
Third, let us not forget about our internet activity. The internet is a great tool. Unfortunately, just as it can be used for good, there is a lot of darkness that lurks within its many pages. Before judging others for their internet activities let’s ask ourselves about the places that we visit on the internet. Do we avoid places that we know we should not tread, or do we take the attitude that a “little peak” won’t hurt anything? Do we take the attitude that no one will ever know that I visit certain sites? Do we tell ourselves that it is OK because we are not really hurting anyone when in reality we are indeed hurting our own testimonies?
Fourth, what about our conversations with others? Do we enjoy listening to profanity or off color jokes? Do we use profanity or initiate off color jokes? Do we tolerate certain conversations so that we can appear to be a part of the crowd? In our conversations do we make jokes about or say unkind things about others (even if we know what we are saying is not true) just to gain favor of our “friends”?
The bottom line is that we should examine our own lives and see whether or not we measure up to the standards that we are trying to hold others to. We need to first make sure our own houses are in order and then we will be more capable of helping others put theirs in order.
I am reminded of the words found in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 29:12, “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.” I am also reminded of the words found in 1 Corinthians 6:2-5:
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
And finally, the words found in John 8:15-16, “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.”
Whenever we refuse to forgive and forget the trespasses that a brother or sister have committed against us, and constantly remind them of their wrongdoings and misdeeds, we in essence label them as prisoners of their past who have no hope of ever having the prison door unlocked and being set free.
Because we insist on holding a brother or sister in condemnation for the wrongs that they may have committed, we are in effect saying to them that the grace of God is not sufficient to wash away their sins even though they have already repented of their misdeeds and have asked for forgiveness. We are saying to them that there is no love or mercy that could ever be extended to them. Most importantly, when we continue to re-live the wrongs that have been committed by a brother or sister, and refuse to allow them to bury their past and move on, we are sending them a message that even the blessings of the atonement are not meant for them – the Lord Jesus Christ shed his precious blood and was crucified on that cruel Roman cross on Golgotha’s lonely hill for everyone else, but not for them.
Are we so holy and so righteous that we can even begin to sit in judgment upon another? While we are busy gathering stones to cast at our brother or sister, perhaps we need to take a step back and examine our own lives a little more closely, and then decide if we should be casting any stones, or perhaps those stones which we have already gathered should be heaped upon ourselves.
If God has forgiven each of us in all of our sins and trespasses, who are we not to forgive those who sin or trespass against us, and to let those trespasses be forever forgotten? When I think about the goodness of God and all that He has done for me in my short lifetime, personally I find that I have no stones to throw at anyone. And so, my dear brothers and sisters of the jury, I put the question before you to decide at this hour as you deliberate your verdict – who among YOU will cast the first stone?
Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”
Doctrine and Covenants 64:10 – “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”