Saturday, January 30, 2010

Loving my Savior - Thoughts on Obedience and Judgment

I recognize that if I want to me able to claim the blessings of the atonement, that I must learn more about it, and about how the Savior can bless and change my life, and the lives of those I love. I know that turning away from the pride that comes as part of the natural man, and instead learning to be obedient is a huge part of becoming more like my Savior.

Joseph Smith taught that obedience to the commandments leads to blessings from God. He said: "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated" (D&C 130:20–21).

I have been thinking about what this means in my life. Sometimes it can be tempting to think that this means that when something bad happens to someone, that it means that they are not following a law, and it is therefor their fault if bad things happen in their lives . The temptation to think that people who have lots of money are following God's laws, and those who are poor are somehow less obedient to the Lord. This is a fallacy though. The blessings we obtain from God are not just temporal. There are lessons that we learn, and gifts that we earn that cannot be seen on a bank statement or a shelf in our homes. While we can expect that the Lord will provide a way for us to have the basic necessities of life, we are not promised that we will have the riches of the world. We are promised that we can have the blessings of the gospel in our lives, if we are worthy of them. That does not mean that we will ever be rich in anything but the gospel.

If it seems that I have talked in a circle, I have a little bit. But it is the circle that the Lord teaches us. We should be following the Lord's laws. We should be humbly grateful for the blessings we have. We should not judge others, whether it is judging them based on their physical blessings or judging them based on the lack of physical blessings that we may discern. In the same ways, we need to be careful that we are not comparing ourselves to other people. All of us start in a unique place, with certain talents and blessings which come from our "accident of birth." Some people are born into families with many resources, both monetary and spiritually. Some people are born into families which have generations of challenges, be they genetic or learn behaviors.

The Lord does not judge us on a individual day or event in our lives. As human beings, who do not easily see things in an eternal perspective, we are not qualified to stand as a judge of anyone besides ourselves. Those who are called to be judges in Israel are not judging those who they serve by themselves, rather they are sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord, and rely on Him to share His judgment of a situation. All of us can have the discerning spirit of the Lord in our lives, but it is unrighteous for us to judge others.

I think that Satan works on us in trying to convince us that we have the right to judge other people. It can come in many forms, but essentially, when we judge other people, we are letting our pride convince us that either we know better than Christ what should happen to a person, or that Christ is telling us that we can judge others, without being given the calling and authority to do so. Pride tells us that we don't need to rely on the Lord, and that we can insert our judgment for His.

I have a friend who told me once that he had an experience where he was able to see beyond the veil of earthly eyes, and to see someone as the Lord sees them. She was a young woman who was struggling with a lot of problems, including some made through her own sinful choices. She was in the process of coming back to full activity in the church. When he looked at her, he was able to see just how beautiful she was to the Lord, and how much potential she had.

I have several times looked at someone and seen beyond their physical bodies, seeing something that is marvelous, and beyond what I would normally be able to discern with my senses. I have found it even easier to love my husband, because of one of those experiences. I know that my Heavenly Father sees me, and everyone on the earth, in a much clearer manner. He sees out divine potential. He sees the small and large hurts that we struggle with and against every day. He sees the small steps, and the huge leaps forward in our progress. He knows where we started, and He can see how far we have come. His glory is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man, and He is thrilled when we move forward.

If we are truly trying to become more Christlike, more worthy of the atonement, and more obedient, then there is no room for us to judge others. Instead, we must find ways to love more, to see the potential in those whom we are tempted to judge. We must recognize that the fact that we are uncomfortable in a situation says more about who we are than the person that we would like to blame for our discomfort. Even more, we need to find the lesson in the discomforts in our lives.

As I have tried to look within myself, and find the growth that I want to have happen in my life, I have discovered that most of the time when I feel hurt or angry, that someone has decided that they can judge in Christ's place. When it is me that is being judgmental, I need to go back and find the good in the person who I am judging. I need to pray for understanding and love, and then turn my feels of unrighteous judgment away.

When I am the one being judged, I need to make sure that I am rejecting the judgment. That is not to say that I shouldn't pray to see if there is some lesson I need to learn, but I need to recognize that the judgment is not from the Lord, but from Satan. Satan wants us to feel useless, unworthy and broken. He wants to create rifts between families and friends. If he can convince us that judging someone is loving them, and that when they don't accept our unrighteous judgment that they are somehow rejecting us, he can destroy relationships that could be a comfort and strength.

So, each day I try to see those around me as the Lord sees them, and as I know He sees me. He knows my innermost thoughts, and the desires of my heart. He knows my deepest hurts, and my most transcendent joys. He knows me, loves me, and He wants me to know and love those around me in the same ways. I am grateful for His patience and love as I learn to be more like Him.


Kathy Haynie said...

It is difficult for me when I am judged by others, when they don't understand my motives and the thoughts of my heart. We all do that so easily. Thank you for your insights.

JuliaKoponick said...

I find it very comforting that Christ does know the thoughts and motives of my heart, and so He will righteously judge me.

I also find it very freeing to think that I don't need to judge anyone else. That is Christ's job, not mine.

Anonymous said...

This was beautifully written, Julia. I loved reading it so much, I plan to share this page with others. Do you mind?

JuliaKoponick said...

Marilyn, please feel free to share it with anyone you want!!