We Can NEVER Judge Another’s Heart

“Sunday Sermon”

“Judge Not”

Throughout my life — as a husband, father, and grandfather — and as a criminal prosecutor, state judge, and ecclesiastical judge — I have become convinced that we are NEVER in a position to judge another person’s heart. I think this is what Jesus meant when he commanded, “Judge not.” (Luke 6:37)

Judge a person’s actions, not their heart

There is a major difference between judging a person’s heart and judging a person’s actions

 For example, prospective jurors often say they cannot judge another person. I explain that they were not being asked to judge the person, but the person’s actions. They are not judging whether the defendant is a good person or a bad person. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. The jury is simply judging whether the defendant’s actions on a certain date violated the law.  That explanation usually satisfies the jurors.

This is also an important gospel principle. Love the sinner but don’t condone the sin.  Condemn the sin, not the sinner.  It is okay to judge the conduct, but not the heart.     

It is too easy to misjudge

 One reason we are commanded to “judge not” is that we so often make mistakes in judgment. Here are three examples when I grossly misjudged others.

Misjudging my 7 year old son

The first example was when my son was seven years old. He was in soccer. During the games he was always lagging behind the pack of players. I kept “yelling” at him to “move it, move it, move it.” I thought he was being lazy and not trying hard enough.  

During the season my son came down with the flu. We took him to his doctor who said my son needed to see a cardiologist immediately. There was something wrong with his heart.      

The cardiologist scheduled urgent open-heart surgery. There was a membrane in his heart that was blocking the valves. His body was not getting enough oxygen. The surgery took eight hours.

My son wasn’t being lazy; he had a major heart defect. I felt awful.  How could I have misjudged my own son so badly?   If so, how can I accurately judge another?   

Misjudging my ward members as Bishop

The second example was when I was a young Bishop of a singles ward. I had a wonderful Elder’s Quorum President.  One Sunday, he came to church dressed all in black.  He hadn’t shaved, and he had an new earring. 

In response, I scheduled several appointments for spiritual counseling.  We discussed the keys to spiritual strength, like prayer and scripture study.  After a few weeks, he returned to “normal.”

About a month later, he came to church unshaven and dressed in black again. I once again scheduled spiritual counseling.

Then, one of his friends pulled me aside and told me that my Elder’s Quorum’s President was bi-polar, and he was struggling with his medication. Duh! 

I totally misdiagnosed the problem. I thought I was dealing with a spiritual problem, when it was a mental health issue

Bishops are shepherds, not veterinarians.  Spiritual counseling was not going treat his bipolar condition. His needed medication and therapy from qualified mental health experts. I gave him a blessing and followed up to make sure he was following the advice of his doctors

Misjudging my 4 year old daughter

 The third example involved my four-year-old daughter.  We drove to the mountains. My young daughter was playing in the snow about fifty feet from me. She had her back to me.

 When I called out to her, she ignored me. I yelled, and she continued to ignore me. I thought she was being disrespectful. I loudly lectured her while I trudged in the snow toward her.  She still ignored me.  

Finally, when I touched her shoulder she jumped. She was completely startled. I realized she couldn’t hear me, even though I was yelling. There was something wrong.

 When we took her to urgent care we learned that she had a buildup of wax in her ear, and with the altitude change, her ears got plugged and she couldn’t hear. She was basically deaf. How could I have misjudged the situation so badly?

I realized, if I can’t accurately judge the people who are closest to me, then I can I possibly judge anyone else.

Misjudging according to appearances

The Lord also commands us, “Judge not according to appearance.” (John 7:24) How can we judge otherwise? Appearance is usually all we know. But it is so easy to misjudge. This is another reason to “Judge Not.

Only God can judge another’s heart

In short, we are NEVER in a position to judge another person’s heart.  Only God can judge another’s heart“For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart.”

(Other Articles. http://www.londonedition.net)

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