Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regard Thomas S. Monson as a prophet of God. We believe that he speaks the words that Jesus Christ would want us to hear. I believe that blessings come when we follow the counsel of the prophet.
President Monson spoke about charity in the October 2010 session for women in a talk titled “Charity Never Faileth.” The entire talk is well worth studying. Most members of the Church will remember the story he told about a young married couple named Lisa and John who moved into a new neighborhood.
“One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash. `That laundry’s not clean!’ Lisa exclaimed. `Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!’”
John did not say anything, and Lisa would make the same comments each time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry. A few weeks passed. Then one day “Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, `Look, John – she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.’
“John replied, `Well dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!’”
President Monson then said, “Tonight I’d like to share with you a few thoughts concerning how we view each other. Are we looking through a window which needs cleaning? Are we making judgments when we don’t have all the facts? What do we see when we look at others? What judgments do we make about them?”
I do not know about you, but I have come face-to-face with the fact that I am judgmental of others. I find myself looking through “dirty windows” when I recognize such thoughts as, “That’s a crazy outfit!” or “I wonder what she did to her hair” or “Why is she doing that?” I am not pleased to know that I am judgmental, but I can at least take credit for recognizing my weakness. Each time I recognize myself judging others, I call myself out on it. I am grateful that they are only thoughts and not words or actions. I hope to one day eliminate this weakness as I continue to work on it.
President Monson continues, “None of us is perfect. I know of no one who would profess to be so. And yet for some reason, despite our own imperfections, we have a tendency to point out those of others. We make judgments concerning their actions or inactions.
“There is really no way we can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might say or do something we find reason to criticize. Thus the commandment: `Judge not.’"
I was gratified last Sunday when I did not judge a mother of a young child who was crying in sacrament meeting. I remembered how I felt as a young mother with crying children, and I felt only sympathy for her.
President Monson quotes “Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life.” “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” He then reminds us that the “Savior has admonished, `This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.’ I ask: can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer – with Mother Teresa: no, we cannot.”
President Monson continues, “I have always loved your Relief Society motto: `Charity never faileth.’ What is charity? The prophet Mormon teaches us that `charity is the pure love of Christ’….
“I consider charity – or `the pure love of Christ’ – to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.
“I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others….
“In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.”
The prophet has spoken. He tells us the words that Christ would have us hear. I am grateful that President Monson reminds us to have more charity for our fellow beings and stop judging them. Imagine what can happen in our homes and communities if we follow the counsel of the living prophet!