Monday, March 7, 2016

Timeline Judgment

We often judge ourselves or others by our past failures.  We may believe that a person has less value because there was a time in her life when she was living by a lower set of values than she does now.  People change over time. They grow up.  They shed past behaviors that were not so good as they learn better ones.  But if we keep remembering what they used to be and let that affect the way we value them, we're using Timeline Judgment.  Likewise, if we keep remembering what we used to be and let that affect the way we value ourselves, we're using Timeline Judgment.

The GOP debates are full of one candidate accusing another of something that was done years ago that proves he/she is totally unfit to fill the present desired position.  At the same time they are trying to prove that they themselves have never done anything wrong in their lives.  

This form of evaluation denies the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  One of the main reasons Christ came to earth and died for us was so we could change, grow, progress, and become better than we once were.  The combination of the Fall and the Atonement of Jesus Christ creates a condition or threshold in which we can learn by the mistakes we make.  Our entire life is not meant to be a series of proofs that we were born a perfect individual that has made few, if any, mistakes along the way.  In fact, if we’re not making mistakes, learning from them, repenting, and forgiving, we most likely aren’t progressing as efficiently as we could.  I think we all understand this.  But I get vibes from so may people that convey an anti-Christian message: “I’ve never really made any mistakes in my life.  I’ve followed the commandments and have never deviated.”  It’s almost like they are pointing to lifetime perfection as the goal we should all be trying to achieve.  But in order to achieve it, we would have to lie, hide, and cover up what we once were because we all know that all of us have made mistakes, however small or large they add up to being compared to others. 

The Prodigal Son’s Brother
“And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:  But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.  And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.  It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” ~Luke 15:29-32

The real goal is to live our life as close to what we believe is the right way to live it right now.  That understanding of the right way will evolve over time.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  So part of the right way to live is to not judge our past selves or others using Timeline Judgment, especially those who are trying their best to live right.  But not everyone is going to understand the right way to live at the same level at any given time.  While we’re all on the same general pathway, we each have a unique pathway within it.  It makes no sense whatsoever to believe we are of less value because in the past we lived by less enlightened values than we do now.  What matters is that once we understand a higher level value, we work to apply it to our life the best we can right now.

“For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law.  For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent;” ~Moroni 8:22-23

"Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him." ~2 Nephi 9:25

I watched a documentary made on the life of C.S. Lewis last night with my kids.  His entire life was progressive understanding.  He started out a nominal Christian (born into a Christian family), then turned into a logician and atheist, then turned into a Theist, and finally back to a Christian but this time in true faith.  He became one of Christianity’s most avid supporters and advocates.  Throughout these transitions, he was always searching for truth and being guided by the Spirit.  He would understand one level of truth, claim it, live it and then move on to the next.  Often, lower levels of understanding had to be revisited, reorganized, and revised.  I consider this progressive kind of life to be the most beautiful of all lives. 

Most have heard the parable of the violin called “Touch of the Master’s Hand.”  Listen to this version of it by the Booth Brothers:

This is what true value is—accepting the "touch of the Master's hand" for us.  This is the only way we can reach our maximum potential.  So let’s all get off our high horses and stop Timeline Judging each other.  Let’s start using a little empathy, mercy, and compassion towards our past selves and towards others.  The only way we're ever going to be able to stop self-condemnation is if we stop condemning others AND vice versa--the only way we're ever going to be able to stop condemning others is if we stop condemning ourselves.
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 

“But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.  And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

“So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:  Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
~ Matthew 18:23-35