Judgment is an important use of our agency and requires great care, especially when we make judgments about other people. All our judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.
Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that we should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, we will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives. The Lord has given many commandments that we cannot keep without making judgments. For example, He has said: “Beware of false prophets. … Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15–16) and “Go ye out from among the wicked” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:42). We need to make judgments of people in many of our important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing a spouse.
The Lord gave a warning to guide us in our judgment of others: “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 the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (3 Nephi 14:2–5).
In this scripture passage the Lord teaches that a fault we see in another is often like a tiny speck in that person’s eye, compared to our own faults, which are like an enormous beam in our eyes. Sometimes we focus on others’ faults when we should instead be working to improve ourselves.
Our righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for us and our families. We should approach any such judgment with care and compassion. As much as we can, we should judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, we should refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. And we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide our decisions. Alma’s counsel to his son Corianton is a helpful reminder: “See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually” (Alma 41:14).
“The Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus the Christ, chapter 17
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Mindy Raye Friedman, “How Would You React?” New Era, April 2013
W. Jeffrey Marsh, “Prophetic Enlightenment on the Sermon on the Mount,” Ensign, January 1999
Mark D. Chamberlain, “The Spiritual Hazards of Faultfinding,” Ensign, August 1996
Paul K. Browning, “Your Marriage and the Sermon on the Mount,” Liahona, September 1995
“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, November 1989
Carol Lynn Pearson, “Judge Not,” Liahona, June 1984
Kenneth L. Higbee, “Judge Not,” Ensign, September 1973
“Popular Bullying Video ‘Highly’ Relevant to Many Youth Today,” Church News