During His mortal ministry, the Savior Jesus Christ discussed creating positive interpersonal relationships. One principle He repeatedly taught centered on God’s judgment versus man’s judgment.
God and Jesus Christ will judge all mankind. “God and Christ are the judge of all” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:68). “[For the Lord] cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Psalms 96:13). “The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me” (Psalms 7:8).
Jesus Christ’s role as Savior and Redeemer enabled Him to know each person’s soul intimately and perfectly. As the only One capable of merciful judgment, He will stand with each individual before the throne of God and judge him or her with perfect judgment.
- “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. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us therefore not judge one another any more” (Romans 14:10, 12-13).
The Savior succinctly explained why humans should not judge each other. “Ye judge after the flesh” (John 8:15).
Most mortal judgment tends to divide and separate humans from each other, skewing reality, and leading to self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement giving way to contention.
The Savior established covenants which bind individuals to Him and His view of humanity—“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10).
At baptism, a person promises to “come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light…are willing to mourn with those that mourn… and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times” (Mosiah 18:9).
King Benjamin, a Book of Mormon prophet-king, warned his people against judging their neighbors.
- And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably…And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
- 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 many not suffer, for his punishments are just –
- But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent…For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:16-19).
The Lord commanded the children of Israel, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people…Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart…Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge…but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:16-18).
Matthew recorded the most oft quoted scriptural passage about judging others as Jesus Christ concluded the Sermon on the Mount.
- 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).
Hypocrisy, pride, and contention dissipate as men and women turn from judgment to charity.
Judge not: Appearance
While teaching in the temple, the Savior declared “Judge not according to the appearance” (John 7:24).
As the Old Testament prophet Samuel followed God’s direction to anoint a king from one of Jesse’s sons, he began determining whom the Lord had chosen based on appearances.
- But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Judge Not: Life Circumstances
Jesus and His disciples encountered a man blind from birth. The disciples judged the man’s physical condition resulted from sin.
- And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
- Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:2-3).
Judge Not: Others’ Sins
The scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus, using her in a manipulative ploy to accuse Jesus. “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (John 8:5). Initially, Jesus remained silent.
- So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. … And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?
- She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:7, 9-11).
Jesus commanded His disciples to judge righteously. While the Savior commanded to not judge others, He expected His disciples to use excellent judgment.
With a clear view of God’s commandments, and the Holy Spirit as a guide, an individual can discern if an activity, educational pursuit, job opportunity, relationship, or any other important decision will be a spiritually healthy choice. Righteous judgment may require the individual to reduce time spent with peers engaging in unproductive or destructive activities.
“And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:12).
The Book of Mormon prophet Mormon identified how to judge righteously.
- But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
- 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, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, 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; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
- But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
- And now, my brethren, 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.