'Judge not,' President Monson counsels women
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In a hundred small ways, all Latter-day Saint women wear the mantle of charity, said President Thomas S. Monson.
"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," said President Monson while offering the closing address at the General Relief Society Meeting on Sept. 25.
Thousands of women attended the meeting, held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and translated into 82 languages. Talks given by President Monson and Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, and her counselors, Sister Silvia H. Allred and Sister Barbara Thompson, were sent, via satellite, to 175 territories, nations and countries around the world. Music for the event was provided by a choir made up of women from stakes in Kearns, Utah, directed by Cathy Jolley and accompanied by Linda Margetts.
President Monson began his address by asking Latter-day Saint women worldwide to not judge one another. "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?"
President Monson said no one 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."
President Monson said there is really no way a person can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of others. "Thus the commandment: "Judge not."
He recalled the day, 47 years ago, he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. On the day his name was presented in General Conference, he sat with members of the general priesthood committee, where he had been serving. His wife, however, had no idea where to go and no one with whom she could sit. In fact, she was unable to find a seat anywhere. Then a dear friend, who was a member of one of the general auxiliary boards and was sitting in an area designated for board members, invited Sister Monson to sit with her.
"This woman knew nothing of my call — which would be announced shortly — but she spotted Sister Monson, recognized her consternation, and graciously offered her a seat. My dear wife was relieved and grateful for this kind gesture."
Sitting down, however, Sister Monson heard loud whispering behind her as one of the board members expressed her annoyance that an outsider had been invited to sit with them.
"There was no excuse for her unkind behavior, regardless of who might have been invited to sit there," said President Monson. "However, I can only imagine how that woman felt when she learned that the intruder was the wife of the newest apostle."
President Monson said not only are people inclined to judge the actions and words of others, but many judge appearances — clothing, hairstyles, and size.
"Appearances can be so deceiving, such a poor measure of a person," said President Monson. "Admonished the Savior, 'Judge not according to the appearance.'"
President Monson told all the women that each of them is unique.
"You are different from each other in many ways. There are those of you who are married. Some of you stay at home with your children, while others of you work outside your homes. Some of you are empty-nesters. There are those of you who are married but do not have children. There are those who are divorced, those who are widowed. Many of you are single women. Some of you have college degrees; some of you do not. There are those who can afford the latest fashions and those who are lucky to have one appropriate Sunday outfit. Such differences are almost endless. Do these differences tempt us to judge one another?"
President Monson said he has always loved the Relief Society motto, "Charity never faileth."
"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 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."
President Monson said there is a serious need for charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, and aid to those who are afflicted. "True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere.
"Needed is the charity which refuses to find satisfaction in hearing or in repeating the reports of misfortunes that come to others, unless by so doing the unfortunate one may be benefitted....
"Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down; it is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others."