Many months ago I ran across a store window display that actually left an impression with me. It was a jewelry store. Instead of the normal velveteen steps and satin pillows many jewelers use, this store featured something different. Inside the display case was a very large geode. Its rough gray surface was tilted toward the back so that the brilliant shades of purple crystal found inside could be used as a display platform for the jeweler’s pearls, gold and other gems. Curious, I went into that jewelry store and found an entire case of geodes, as well as the largest (probably 3 feet across) I’d ever seen.
Geodes are very fascinating rocks whose insides house beautiful crystal formations. You can’t tell from the outside what you’ll see on the inside. It’s the same way with a lot of things around us. You can’t always tell how the apple will taste by how it looks, or how well a car will run by its color. More importantly, you can’t always tell about people by how they look or act. We are warned to judge not.
I am reminded of the story of the calling of David found in 1 Samuel. Samuel looked on each of Jesse’s sons before turning toward the youngest, David, and seeing in him what the Lord needed from the next king.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
This is good advice for all of us. I’m sure David’s brothers had both good and bad qualities. Only the Lord could tell what was actually in their hearts. While choosing a car for its color rather than its performance can have a lasting affect on our lives, it is much more damaging to look at another individual with the same types of judgments. It can be damaging to our spirits, and theirs. Finding fault in other’s circumstances, actions or personality can have caustic effects. It generally means we’re spending too much time critically looking outside of ourselves rather than looking for ways we can become closer to our Savior. We are pointing out motes and ignoring our own beams as we are warned against in both 3 Nephi 14:2-5 and Matthew 7:3.
Still, judgment is a necessary part of life. We are here to make choices and prove that we will do all we can to return to our Heavenly Father, so how do we resolve the two. Judgments must be made: whether or not to watch a particular form of entertainment, whether or not to let our children play at someone else’s house, whether or not to buy the red car.
Samuel gave us that answer as well. He looked at what he could see, and yes he had opinions, but ultimately he asked the Lord and trusted His word. David was chosen for his heart not his stature. Our neighbor was chosen to mother her children; we were chosen to mother ours. We do not know her heart, the Lord does.
We must look to our own lives first, searching out the areas of our hearts that don’t carry what we would like the Lord to find there, then turn to Him as we look at the world around us and trust Him to lead us toward choices that are also in tune with His will. If it is hurtful or damaging we should not judge. It doesn’t belong in our hearts or lives. Kindness was the guiding factor of the Savior’s life. Let it guide ours as well.