Critical Thinking Topics:
Judgment and Decision Making
Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life.
The Lord has given many commandments that you 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” (D&C 38:42). You need to make judgments of people in many of your important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing an eternal companion.
Judgment is an important use of your agency [free will] and requires great care, especially when you make judgments about other people. All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards.
Remember that only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals. (Revelation 20:12; 3 Nephi 27:14; D&C 137:9)
How to Make Righteous Judgments
Your righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for you and your family. Approach any such judgment with care and compassion.
As much as you can, judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, refrain from making judgments until you have an adequate knowledge of the facts. Always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide your decisions. True to the Faith, 90-91
How Do We “Judge Righteous Judgment”?
By Tyler J. Griffin
Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University
Jesus is not telling us never to judge. He is commanding us to make sure the judgments we make are righteous.
Have you ever been in a situation where somebody tried to correct another person by saying, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”? (Matthew 7:1). Few of Jesus’s teachings are more widely known than this one. Unfortunately, this phrase is not always correctly understood or applied. Our ability to benefit from this command will increase as we examine how Jesus Christ used it in His teachings and how His prophets have reiterated it through time.
In the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 7, we read, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:2 [in Matthew 7:1, footnote a]).
According to Joseph Smith’s addition to this passage in Matthew, Jesus is not telling us never to judge. He is commanding us to make sure the judgments we make are righteous.
Our Judgments of People
Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were.”5
Our own sins and lack of perfect understanding disqualify us from being able to pass final judgments on anyone, including ourselves. We must, however, make constant intermediate judgments. We are to righteously judge actions, not condemn people.