I have a problem.
I am a really critical person- aaaand I don’t mean critical of myself.
For as long as I can remember I’ve done this thing where when I notice someone is doing something wrong, I point it out. Sometimes it’s small like when someone says something grammatically incorrect or sings the wrong lyrics to a song. Other times it’s big- being judgmental of the way someone dresses or chooses to act. Either way it’s rude and unnecessary, but that hasn’t seemed to stop me from doing it subconsciously.
Especially when it involves other church members.
Sometimes I see the things that they’re doing, especially on social media, and I think why are they doing that? Don’t they know that xyz is wrong? They’ve been a member for however long, so they should know..I tell myself.
And I’m not the only one who does this. There are millions of church members, and there are so many of us who use social media. On social media I’ve seen posts by members condoning the actions of others. And I’ve seen comments on posts made by members who are also condoning the actions of others.
Because we’re behind a screen, we call people out for what they’re doing “wrong”. We don’t know any more than what we see in a photo or video, we just judge and condescend.
I do it, and it makes me feel like a jerk…
On Sunday in church we talked about building up Zion.
Our teacher started the lesson by having us write down 5 things we want to accomplish in our lives. He then had us look over the list of what we had written and consider whether or not those things, however good they may be, would actually contribute to the building up of Zion.
He then read in D&C 97:21 where it says, Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, or this is Zion- The pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.
Sitting in that lesson, it hit me like a ton of bricks: If I’m going to call myself a follower of Christ and consider myself pure in heart, then I need to stop judging others.
Guys, if we think Zion is a place where goodness and happiness will be, then we’ve got to be less critical of the choices people make.
Being a critic is not being Christ-like. And if we are being like Christ, we would never think to put ourselves on a pedestal while judging others for what we deem “wrong”. Because Christ didn’t do that.
It’s hard not to be critical. This can be especially true when we see them on social media doing things that are definitely not in line with the standards of the Church. But one of the things I’m realizing now is that the decisions they make do not affect me or my beliefs. And if they’re not affecting me, my family, or my beliefs, then what good does it do me to judge what they’re doing?
No good. It does no good for me to judge them on what they’re doing. Or better yet, on what they’re posting on social media; a place where aesthetic and having the “perfect life” take priority over a lot of other things.
Judging people on social media will not help them. It will not build up their beliefs, it won’t solidify any standards, it won’t be a teaching experience. If you say things in a critical way (and yes, typing them in a way that is meant to be rude or judgmental does come across that way), you are more likely to push them away from the church than to bring them closer to it.
SO JUST STOP.
Stop being so hard on other people because they do things differently than you. Stop trying to catch people in their faults and broadcast what they’re doing “wrong” on social media.
Instead of judging them, love them. Accept their differences in personality, beliefs, and relationships with God. No two people are having the same experience, and no two people know God the same way. And remember, you don’t know where someone is at. They may look put together and picture perfect online, and their life may be falling apart at the seems.
Just be kind.
And if someone is posting things that bother you, make you feel like they are not being a good example, or leave you feeling critical unfollow them. Just like they have their agency to do whatever the heck they want, you have yours which allows you to follow whoever you want on social media.
Now I know that in real life this may be a different story. Maybe you have a cousin who does things that you feel are inappropriate or a brother-in-law who just isn’t sticking to your idea of the straight and narrow. Guess what..the same rules apply! Don’t be so critical of them.
While you may have a better idea of who they are as a person than someone you follow online, people can be struggling with all kinds of things privately. So don’t judge.
Again, be kind. Be loving. Spread God’s love through charity and love. Be positive. A kind hearted person will always be more successful in sharing the Gospel than a negative, judgmental person. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
And hey! Nobody is perfect. That’s what repentance is for! I’ll be right here with you- trying my best.
Just remember, you can be a critic or you can be Christ-like…you can’t be both.