When Should You Judge?

I learned from a friend that our job is to love one another and nurture our spirituality, not try to determine each other’s fate.

After I graduated from high school, many of my friends were preparing to leave on missions for the Church. My Sundays became busier and busier as I went to various wards to hear the farewell talks my friends gave before heading on their missions.

While most of those talks have faded from my memory, one has stuck with me. In this talk, a friend focused on ideas in Elder Dallin H. Oakss talk “‘Judge Not’ and Judging.”

None of us are perfect, but we are all God's children, and each of us deserves to be treated as such.

Photo by Annie Spratt

Judgment was a pretty hot topic for me at the time, particularly in relation to high school life. It seemed that the entire high school social ladder was based on judging. Each clique judged other cliques because of their differences, whether justified or not. I was confused about whether judging others was ever right, and, if it was, how I could make the right judgment.

My questions were answered when my friend read the following quote from Elder Oaks: “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 learned an important lesson as my friend expounded on this quote. It’s never my place to condemn other people for the mistakes they make. By doing so, I’m trying to take over God’s job as the final judge. Unlike God, I don’t perfectly know every person, and therefore I have no right to make any final judgments about people.

That being said, it’s important to make judgments that protect myself. If there are people in my life who are damaging my spiritual, emotional, or physical health, it’s okay for me to distance myself from them. I can forgive them and hope they try to improve themselves. But I shouldn’t condemn them. While none of us are perfect, we’re all God’s children and we all deserve to be treated as such.

Read “‘Judge Not’ and Judging,” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, to learn about the importance of knowing when it’s appropriate and not appropriate to exercise judgment.

Source: BYU Devotional

—Sarah Shields, Mormon Insights

feature image by kristina flour

Find more insights

Take a look at Matthew 7:1–5 to explore some of Jesus Christ’s wisdom regarding judgment.

Listen to the Mormon Channel interview “How Not to Judge to learn more about the importance of accepting other people and withholding judgment.

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