I have found that judgment, although we think it makes us “free” and “is delicious to the taste and very desirable,” burdens us individually and as a society. Judgment will destroy us. Why do we think we can take upon us this burden without the Righteous Judge being our guide and God? Especially when Christ didn’t even judge without God telling Him what to judge? (John 8:15-16)
I know that is a pretty bold statement, but if we think about it for a minute we can see some of the fruits judgment produces and start to discern if it’s the boon to our society that we’ve made it out to be, or if it is a detriment in our personal quest for Zion.
Anyone who is a follower of Christ must admit that achieving Zion is the great goal of all past eras. All the prophets have sought it, from Adam and Eve to Noah, Abraham, Melchizedek, Christ, right down to our own Joseph Smith. We even use the name Zion in everything we create as a type and shadow of what we are trying to achieve now.
The words “one,” “pure heart,” “at-one-ment,” “charity,” “whole,” “holy,” “sanctified”, and “one heart and one mind” all point us to the idea and concept for the creation of Zion. When we use these words we are attempting to describe what is present in those who live in Zion and the characteristics of the city of Zion.
You might ask what the correlation between judgment and Zion is, as this post is about judgment. But for those who know these two things well knows they cannot be separated. If we want to become Zion and enter into Zion here on earth or in the world to come we MUST understand these two concepts perfectly for our own judgments and Zion are the antitheses of each other. Judgment WILL keep us OUT of Zion!
Zion is the pure in heart. That is God’s definition, not mine. He is the one that says those who are pure in heart are His Zion people and are “made fruit meet for His kingdom.” (D&C 84:58) So His definition is rather important for us to comprehend. Let’s take the phrase “pure in heart” and look at it a little closer to see if we can come to a better understanding of Zion. Pure is to be only one thing; devoid of all things that are not the one thing that is meant to be pure. “Pure gold” means there is only gold present, with no other metals or alloys that contaminate its purity. The heart is a symbol of where the desires and emotions are felt. It is thought to be where charity and love reside in the body and where the Spirit touches us to teach and enliven the soul. A pure heart can, therefore, be said to be the location where a pure, undefiled love and charity for God and mankind can reside in the body. Therefore in order to be pure in heart, there can only be pure love in the heart. It cannot be contaminated with fear, anger, anxiety, control or selfishness. A pure heart is a heart full of love and devotion to God, love of mankind, love for ourselves and even our enemies.
To have a pure heart, we must admit that we don’t really know what should or shouldn’t be done to others in this world, for we are not pure enough to make that call. Only ONE can do that and if we want to do it, we must be ONE with Him. That, in and of itself is a high price to pay. Christ, to be worthy of judging us and becoming the Judge of all had to suffer the atonement to know and have sufficient LOVE to overcome all our judgment of ourselves and each other and bring us back into His presence. The At-ONE-ment was His power and ability in action to love us out of judgment of ourselves and others. He had to love us enough to help us accept His love/judgment as perfect for us AND others. We must be willing to give up our own ideas and accept His truth. This creates a pure heart – loving Him and His will, ideas and judgment as the best for us and everyone else too.
I know there are many who say that we can discern the works of others and tell when they are right or wrong and, therefore, we can judge them, but I really don’t believe we can – at least not alone. Righteous Judgement is done by the only ONE who is Righteous – GOD. If we think we can condemn and judge those around us, then we don’t plan on living in Zion, because we haven’t become Zion — pure love. God tells us clearly that when we try to steady the ark we will be destroyed ourselves. (D&C 85:8) Whatever we do, it must be done by direction and not with our own judgment attached. This will take us a lifetime to achieve as we are continually thinking that we have the right to partake of the fruit of judgment.
One of the main characteristics of Zion is that people from all walks of life and faiths will live there. Not just Mormons or Jews or Israelites or Baptists or any other group. Anyone with a pure heart will enter and live in Zion. That means anyone who loves purely and completely with the Love of God, will have a right to live there. So, tell me, if we are judging each other and deciding who should be “damned and utterly destroyed” and who should get to live, how on earth are we ever going to be pure enough to be able to accomplish the task of a GREAT LOVE? I don’t know about you, but when I am judging I really struggle to love. They are opposites and impossible to have at the same time. Judgment doesn’t live with love because it is in the attitude of condemning. Christ now has these two together (mercy and judgment) but He didn’t before the atonement.
Judgment and love are on two opposite sides of the equation. Only God knows if someone’s heart is pure, we can’t see it without help from God, and we’re not going to get that help as long as we are choosing to judge that someone doesn’t have a pure heart. It is quite a paradox that we can’t see what is in another person’s heart as long ours is impure. We must first be what we want to see in another. That includes all the good things we want to see in ourselves. We can only see and create around us what we have chosen to see and create in ourselves. If we have chosen to create fear and doubt, anger and accusation, we cannot create love and acceptance, joy and unity. It is impossible. We can’t give what we don’t own.
Confession: I have struggled the past few weeks as I have watched someone who should know better, and who should know to not judge, who has instead been leading people away from God, instead has been leading them deeply into judgment. This person has chosen to divide instead of unite. The funny thing is, as I write this, I know that everyone who is reading it will think of the person/group they are judging and think they are the person I am speaking of. It’s kinda fascinating because I have a certain person in mind, but each of you in your mind will find someone who you think I am speaking of or who you think I should be speaking of and assign my words to that person or group. HA, HA! That’s what judgment does. It spreads and is contagious! I have had to realize that my own judgment is incomplete and that the person I am thinking of is loved immensely by God and that I can trust Him to take care of it. I have had to do a ton of R&R (Repent & Replace) to get to the point where I can let it go and let God teach this person His will. After much judgment and repentance, I have chosen to love this person no matter what they think or teach. I choose to trust that God will have the last say and will lovingly bring all truth forward in His time.
Such a funny thing this judgment stuff! Anyone who finds it acceptable to condemn others to outcomes that they themselves wouldn’t want to suffer must take care. Judgment does exactly that, it creates for us what we think others deserve and keeps us locked in our own judgment until we can let go of it and allow God to do the judging. We will always reap what we sow and achieve what we set our minds on. If we set our mind and heart on judgment and condemnation of others we will achieve that for ourselves. If we set our minds to love others unconditionally and please God we will receive that. We cannot have two different outcomes/ends in mind and get what we desire. Love and judgment are opposite in nature and unless we want to be torn apart, (as Christ was) we cannot have both. Interestingly enough, judgment does tear us apart because we want to condemn and love all at once, which is impossible. I suggest that we choose one and give ourselves to that choice completely. This will prove our choice to judge or love from the fruit. The outcomes will show up faster if we fully commit to one course. We will either be happy or miserable. We cannot be both when we try to love and condemn others at the same time. The results of judgment will show up as condemnation of ourselves, pain in our bodies, disease, fear of what others think of us, fear of what God thinks of us, and falling into the pit we dug for our neighbor. The results of love will look like love for ourselves and others, patience for ourselves and others, ability to see the best in ourselves and others, the ability to be more grateful for our experiences, even the hard ones, joy in the journey and increased faith in God, to name just a few. We will find fear or love on our quest. Both cannot live in the same person at the same time. One or the other will win or we will be torn apart. Sounds like hell to me – and as we have all experienced judgment – we all know it feels like hell too. We put ourselves into this hell through our own choices and judgments daily.
The burden of judgment happens when we try to judge others on our own, or even from a scripture or idea of what we think that person is supposed to be doing because we have been told to do something and decide everyone else should do it too. Who of us, if we lived at the time of Nephi or Abraham, would not have judged either or both of those men to be sinning when they went against the “commandments” and did what the Lord asked them to do? Who is clean enough to have been able to see into heaven and trust that Nephi and Abraham were, in fact, acting in a godly manner and as commanded by God? Ask yourself, could you have trusted that Nephi wasn’t evil if you were standing next to him when he was told to kill Laban? How about Abraham? What would you have thought of him if he was your neighbor and told you that God had told him to sacrifice his son? If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that it’s not so easy! Therefore, we must ask ourselves, where is our trust in God that both of them would be taken care of and recovered if deceived, and increased if being obedient?
Who of us can tell if someone is evil because they are getting a divorce or if they are righteous because they are following the Lord and what He has told them to do? Who can see into a man or woman’s heart, all by him or herself, and find the word of the Lord to that person and decide if the person you are looking at is righteous or evil? Is your heart pure enough to be able to see what you don’t know through your own experience? That is what it takes to judge righteously. It takes experience, trial, pain, misunderstanding, and destruction to see that others have experienced these things too and that they are trying their best to come back to God also. It takes our suffering an atonement (as a God) to qualify us to judge righteously! If you don’t have a pure enough heart to see the best in others, you don’t have a pure enough heart to see the worst in them. If we cannot see the sin in ourselves and love ourselves even in that sin, even in our flaws and mistakes and errors then we cannot hope to see and love in others their mistakes and errors. We won’t be clean enough to hear the word of the Lord in all things and follow Him and enter Zion. If we have pain that we inflict upon ourselves and others through our judgment and condemnation we cannot hope to attain the love of God to a sufficient degree to enter Zion and bring others with us.
Who of us loves well enough in just our family to be able to convert and convince our children, spouse, in-laws, mother-in-law, parents, siblings etc to receive God’s love instead of judgment? Who of us has been called by God to cry repentance through condemnation instead of love and longsuffering? We might do well to remember the qualities God requires of us if we want to be called to the work. (D&C 4:5-6) Not judgment, self-aggrandizing, ego, pride, rejoicing in the weakness of others, or fault-finding. What are we lacking to be called to the work and really qualify to have the power unto the convincing of men with the Holy Ghost? I venture to say that it is charity – the PURE LOVE of CHRIST. Gotta get me some of that!
So here it is, the moment of truth. Do we all judge? YES, OF COURSE! It is part of the condition of humanity. So what! We are weak! Can God help us turn this weakness into a strength? YES, of course! Can we change and learn to partake of the love of God instead of judgment? Can we gain more power through Him giving us His love both for us and for others? YES! I guess it just means we have a little more R&R (Repenting & Replacing) to do. We must activate the atonement where we didn’t notice we needed it before. COOL! Wherever the atonement goes it heals, purifies, empowers and brings life. We can now look forward to having another weakness overcome and made into a strength. We can start to get rid of the pit we have dug for our neighbor that we ourselves have fallen into and be saved from the hell in our own minds and hearts. We can start to feel the LOVE of GOD to a new level that hasn’t been available to us before! Let’s get started before we forget that we aren’t God and start to judge again!
I commit to you to start now and to keep going until I only love all those around me, even those who judge and condemn me. Even those who think they know me or my actions, but have misjudged me, who have made themselves my God and think they are right in doing so. I will plead for them and love them regardless of what they choose to think and say about me. I will treat them like I want to be treated, with care and faith that they will figure it out and return to God through His love. That is a relief! I don’t have to worry about what anyone says about me. God will take care of it all, and I trust He will be able to love them back to Him! I will love unconditionally so He has a better shot at showing all of us the truth. Oh, by the way, I am sure to mess this up at some point, so please be patient with me as I am tested, repent, grow and work to get better at loving the way God loves.