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SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS, UNDERSTANDING, NOT JUDGMENT, IS WHAT LORD REQUIRES

As corrupt men brought an adulteress before the Savior for judgment, He gave a soft answer that puts all such accusers to flight:

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7.)"The scriptures are very strict upon the unauthorized judging," wrote Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Council of the Twelve, in The Miracle of Forgiveness. "The Lord Himself made it clear and emphatic:

" `Judge not, that ye be not judged.

" `For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.' (Matt. 7:1-2.)

"The Lord will judge with the same measurements meted out by us. If we are harsh, we should not expect other than harshness. If we are merciful with those who injure us, He will be merciful with us in our errors. If we are unforgiving, He will leave us weltering in our own sins.

"While the scriptures are plain in their declaration that man shall have meted out to him the same measure that he gives his fellowmen, the meting out even of warranted judgment is not for the layman, but for proper authorities in Church and state. The Lord will do the judging in the final analysis.

"The bishop in his ordination to that office is made a `judge in Israel' to those of his own ward, but to none who are not so placed under his jurisdiction. The stake president, by his setting apart, is made a judge over the people of the stake over which he is to preside. Likewise, a branch president and mission president have somewhat similar responsibilities. The General Authorities, of course, have general jurisdiction, and have the duty to make judgments in certain instances.

"The Lord can judge men by their thoughts as well as by what they say and do, for He knows even the intents of their hearts; but this is not true of humans. We hear what people say, we see what they do, but being unable to discern what they think or intend, we often judge wrongfully if we try to fathom the meaning and motives behind their actions and place on them our own interpretation.

"A person who judges anyone else is just as likely to judge his Church leaders, often thereby bringing disharmony and contention to our wards and branches. But the spirit of forgiveness and not of judgment is what is required - forgiveness and understanding. If those who seem so disturbed about the actions of their leaders would only pray to the Lord with full purpose of heart, saying constantly, `Thy will be done,' and `Father, lead me aright and I will accept,' their attitude would change and they would return to happiness and peace."

Elder Kimball further noted: "Our vision is completely obscured when we have no mirror to hold up to our own faults and look only for the foibles of others. When we follow the instructions of the Lord, we are kept so busy perfecting ourselves that we come to realize that the faults of others are small in comparison."