Jesus never condemned; we don’t need to condemn ourselves.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, it’s too late for me, I won’t be saved”? Or even, “I’m already going to hell, so what’s the point of trying?” It feels like people are prone to making judgments of themselves that they assume God also makes.
In his BYU devotional “Judge Not and Judging,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks explains the difference between what he calls intermediate judgments and final judgments. Intermediate judgments are judgments we are asked to make on earth. These are individual judgments that we make to help protect ourselves, or that judges in Israel (e.g., bishops) make to help people access the Savior’s grace. Even when we make these judgments, Elder Oaks pleads that we make them righteously and with all the facts.
The other judgment he talks about is a final judgment, or the judgment of whether or not an individual is going to hell. This is the kind of judgment we hear when someone says, “They won’t be saved.” Elder Oaks says that this judgment is not okay. In fact, even Jesus refrained from making final judgments during his ministry on earth. Because we don’t know the full circumstances of another’s life or understand the entire process that God uses to make final judgments, we cannot make judgments about whether or not someone will be saved. That includes ourselves.
As President Oaks puts it, “The gospel is a gospel of hope, and none of us is authorized to deny the power of the Atonement.” We don’t have all the facts of others’ lives, and even when we think we have all the facts of our own life, we aren’t at Judgment Day yet and we don’t perfectly know how God sees us.
When we refrain from making judgments of ourselves and others, we allow ourselves the space for the mercy and love that comes from Jesus’s Atonement.
Read the rest of Dallin H. Oaks’s talk “Judge Not and Judging” to learn more about how to righteously judge in your own life.
Source: BYU Speeches
—Stefani Stewart, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE PROVIDED BY LDS MEDIA LIBRARY
Find more insights
Watch or read Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer’s general conference talk “Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others” to learn more about righteous judgment.
Read Cara Taylor’s article for Latter-day Saint Insights “Our Intuition Is a Gift: Judge Righteously” for additional insights.