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Monday, June 22, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 8: The Non-Judgmental Savior



It’s Tough to Hear, but You Still Need to Hear It


In the post “The Prodigal Mormon,” I detailed how we consider and call ourselves "The Lord's Chosen People", "A Righteous Generation" with "Noble Birthright". "The Elect of God". Even "The Anointed".

I mean, who doesn’t like hearing that you’re the bomb?! I think Sister Sheri Dew articulated that desired chosen status the best:

“The simple fact is that our Father did not recommend Eve or Moses or Nephi or countless other magnificent exemplars for this dispensation—He recommended you and me. Do you think God would have left the last days to chance by sending men and women He couldn’t count on? A common theme of patriarchal blessings given to men and women your age is that you were sent now because our Father’s most trustworthy children would be needed in the final, decisive battle for righteousness. That is who you are, and it is who you have always been.

And we were born to lead. We were born for glory." (Sheri Dew, "You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory," speech given at BYU, Dec. 9, 2003)

However -- and what boggles my mind -- is that I can’t find anything in the Standard Works that says we are so great, grand and glorious, let alone worthy of being mentioned alongside “Eve or Moses or Nephi.” Here’s what I have found:

"there is none that doeth good" (Psalm 14:1; 53:1-3)

"It is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18

“O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7)

"Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1:10)

Oh, and the minute we begin considering our status as members of the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh, it’s appropriate to remember Nephi’s thoughts to the Gentiles:

"Hearken, O ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying:
Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel." (3 Nephi 30:1-2)

In referencing Mormon 8:33–39, Elder L. Tom Perry said:

"Moroni’s last words to the members of the Church are written as a voice of warning. He writes as one who sees the history of his people repeating itself in the future. [Elder Perry then read Mormon 8:34-38]]. I guess one of the greatest mysteries of mortality is why mankind fails to learn from history. Why do those who profess to be true followers of Christ so often become victims of the enticements of the world?" (October 1992 General Conference)

I think we members grossly underestimate the degree of pride we carry with us on a daily basis. Not only pride, but also idolatry. In his June, 1976 First Presidency Message, "The False Gods We Worship", Pres. Spencer W. Kimball addressed the Saints by saying:

"The Lord gave us a choice world and expects righteousness and obedience to his commandments in return.  But when I review the performance of this people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened. Iniquity seems to abound.  The Destroyer seems to be taking full advantage of the time remaining to him in this, the great day of his power.  Evil seems about to engulf us like a great wave, and we feel that truly we are living in conditions similar to those in the days of Noah before the Flood."

That was 44 years ago. Ten years ago, another church president said:

"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.’" (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, "Charity Never Faileth", October 2010 General Conference)

“Inexcusable”


With those facts, what justification do you have to judge another? I mean, to any degree whatsoever?

True, we may not outright judge another. Instead, many tend to re-word their judgments and “be concerned” or “be worried” about another. We “want them to be happy.” And in sharing that judgment with others, we may say that we are “only looking out for their best interests” or “trying to protect the good name of the church.”

In my opinion, that’s all baloney (I have another word, but I’m trying to keep this a clean blog). They’re all self-justifications for judging others..And the only ones we are really fooling, and hurting, is ourselves.

"If we exercise judgment without mercy, perhaps judgment without mercy may be meted to us." (John Taylor, "God the Source of All Good", JD 15:266)

“We can so clearly and easily see the harmful results that come when others judge and hold grudges. And we certainly don’t like it when people judge us. 
But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt. 
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said that those who pass judgment on others are “inexcusable.” The moment we judge someone else, he explained, we condemn ourselves, for none is without sin. Refusing to forgive is a grievous sin—one the Savior warned against. Jesus’s own disciples had “sought occasion against [each other] and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.” (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy”, April 2012 General Conference)

We are very quick to jump from 

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For 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 out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

to:

“Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” (Matthew 7:2 JST)

However, "men cannot always judge righteous" (D&C 10:37) This is likely because we do not have “the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)” within us (Pres. Brigham Young, "Comprehensiveness of True Religion," A discourse delivered at Salt Lake City, December 5, 1853). And who among us wants to raise their hand and say that they have “the mind of Christ” at any given time? I certainly wouldn’t.

Looking Inside the Mind of Christ


So, the challenge is having “the mind of Christ.” 

Was Yeshua ever in situations where He should have judged another? Definitely, and often. 

Let’s see what He did in some clearly judgmental situations (granted, these videos are dramatized, but in my opinion, they’re not too far deviated from what really happened):

The Woman at the Well

In John 4:5-29, we read about Yeshua’s interaction with a woman who had five husbands; “and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband:”

This woman went to where other women would go, only she would arrive once everyone had left. Today, she could be equated with a woman who attends church or went to the store when no one was around. And why?

Scandalous! Five previous husbands, and she’s living with some guy? I know plenty of members who would not be caught talking with her at all. In fact, if she were a member, would she be called into the Bishop’s office? Is it likely that the sisters in Relief Society would avoid asking her to offer a prayer or comment in a class? Do you think she’d ever be offered a calling? 

But let’s see what Yeshua did. Did He avoid her? Judge her? Where in John 4:5-29 did He even come close to treating her marital status with a molecule of negativity?



The Woman with an Issue of Blood

In Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48, we read about the woman with an issue of blood for 12 years. 

Many medical scholars believe this woman may have had menorrhagia, which is abnormally heavy and long menstruation that causes enough cramping and blood loss that it makes normal daily activities impossible. The scriptures are right in calling it a “hemorrhage” because the amount of blood lost is significant—enough to fill a maxi pad at least every hour for several weeks (not to mention 12 years!).

Under Mosaic law, a woman with an issue of blood was considered unclean and was “put apart” for 7 days. During this time, anything she lay on or sat on was considered “unclean,” meaning that if anyone touched one of those things he would have to wash his clothes and bathe in water to become clean again.

(In her case, we are told that she had “suffered many things of many physicians” and had spent “all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” That’s understandable because Today to treat or control menorrhagia, physicians prescribe hormone pills. In severe cases, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or endometrial ablation or resection (which permanently destroys the entire lining of the uterus) are used to treat it). 

Today is no different. Anyone who has even potentially contracted a plague (like coronavirus) or has a fever is quarantined from society for a minimum of 14 days, and anything they have come into contact with is also considered unclean. The judgments unleashed on them are fast, harsh and quite possibly long-lasting.

When I walk in public, I see people wearing masks giving sideways glances and dirty looks to those without masks. If that’s the case, imagine someone with coronavirus walking and moving their way through crowds of people, including you. Judgmentalism? 100% guaranteed!

In most Judean towns, they were so small, everybody knew everybody. We don’t know if people knew that the woman had an issue of blood. I would assume that some did, and they would have been terrified to see her interacting in crowds.  

But what did Yeshua do when she touched Him, seeking healing? He didn’t judge her. He didn’t condemn her. He didn’t say, “Hey lady, what the heck are you doing?! Can’t you see you’re unclean? Thanks a lot lady, now I’m unclean, too!” Nope. Again, not one molecule of negativity. He simply said to her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”


The Woman Caught in Adultery

Perhaps no story better exemplifies the nonjudgmental nature of the Savior than this story, found in John 7:53–8:11. I’ll assume you know the story well.

In this case, judgmentalism wasn’t just a choice, but also a doctrinal canonized requirement. Deuteronomy 22:22–25 says that if a man is found lying with a married woman, then they shall both be put to death.

As a rabbi, Jesus was obligated to espouse and promote the canonized judgment upon the woman. But that wasn’t to be.

“Jesus’ response both keeps the demands of justice and of mercy. He did not speak against the law by saying she should not be stoned, nor did he say she should be stoned. Instead, he put it back on the woman’s accusers, saying, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” With this, he forced the woman’s accusers to look inward at their own guilt in violating the very same law. St. Augustine puts it like this: ‘Hence, either let this woman go, or together with her receive the penalty of the law.’ He argues that the voice of justice says let the sinner be punished, but not by sinners. This ultimately causes all to depart, leaving only the woman and Jesus, the one without sin, the one who alone could cast the first stone. However, the woman receives mercy instead, with the admonition to sin no more.” (https://faithmag.com/lessons-mercy-woman-caught-adultery)

If the sinless Yeshua didn’t feel like this clearly adulterous woman deserved judgment, then in what cases do you feel justified in exacting judgment upon another?


Drop Your Stones


I would someday love nothing more than to hear that you have knelt before Yeshua while in mortality. 

Some say it can’t be done. Such things don’t happen anymore.

They. Are. Wrong.

For the rest of your life, it will be the one day of the year that has significance far and beyond any other day. It will be THE day, THE perfect day, because it was THE day that you were with THE One. Here’s one of MANY first-hand experiences:


To be honest, there are infinite possibilities how your audience with Him could go. Most assume that it will be a happy time. Yes, that’s one possibility. But I know others who wanted that meeting with Yeshua, and either they never had it, or they did, but it was not a particularly happy meeting. Nobody wants to be chastised by the Master.

In my opinion, it won’t be a happy meeting -- or may not happen at all -- if you lack mercy and definitely not if you are a self-proclaimed judge over others, no matter how justified you consider yourself.

We read in Matthew 23:23 that Yeshua was quick to condemn those who were checking off the boxes of religious faithfulness (particularly the full tithe payers), but were omitting “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He said to them, “These ought ye to have done.”

In my opinion, you are fooling yourself if you think just passing the temple recommend interviews qualifies you for an audience with Yeshua. As Yeshua demonstrated to that crowd of (presumably) men ready to throw their stones, nobody is qualified to judge another, no matter how right or correct they may think they are. 

All of us are prodigals. None of us is righteous, no, not one. There is none that doeth good, no, not one. We are nothingness. We are nothing, even less than the dust of the earth. We are equated with wicked ways, evil doings, lyings, deceivings, whoredoms, idolatries and more. 

I invite you to avoid the stones of judgment, especially those that have “I’m concerned,” “I’m worried,” “I just want you to be happy,” “I’m only looking out for you best interests” or “I’m only trying to protect the good name of the church.”

Let us not examine or explore others’ sins, but look to their divinity. It is not ours to delve into others’ problems, but rather, to perceive the breadth of their goodness.

Just step away from the stones, and YOU won’t get hurt.



 (“The Chosen”)