How much can our reactions harm us? How much truth do we reject because of our reactions?
Sometimes I wonder if our reactions are a good gauge of our real intentions for seeking truth. Are we angry, bothered, uncomfortable? Do we laugh, mock, debate? Are we hesitant or fearful? Fools have mocked and scorned great men of faith and of science. Instead, their reaction to truth and knowledge should be of non-judgment. Everyone has something important to say. So, how do we engage information?
I propose that we consider. Do we think about what is being said? Do we ask for clarification and meaning? Do we ask questions? In this way the information can come to us unfiltered and then ready to judge.
In order to not judge something to be evil or good, at first, we must withhold judgment altogether. Then we can judge righteously.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
Wait! Just consider the information. Don't judge yet!
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. (Book of Mormon, Moroni, Moroni 7)
It is wrong to judge something outright as good or evil. Hopefully we do prepare ourselves for truth, and maybe we can aim rightly at the target of truth when it presents itself before us. It would be nice to be conditioned for truth and welcome it with open arms. In my experience, it doesn't always work that way. Truth can be hard. It can pierce. It can cause hurt. But righteous judgment requires that we consider it. In fact, I don't think it's possible to judge righteously without first considering. Then, once we have taken the information, understood it as it was meant from the communicator–considered it–then we can discern more fully whether it will draw us closer to Christ or not.
Withholding judgment is not indifference. It allows considering information then righteous judgment. I propose it as a spiritual maturity.
On the other hand, I don't believe judgment is ever intended against one another. It's also knowing of our fallen state and our sameness in the nature of humanity. We must not only withhold judgment from one another, but forgive any offenses before they even occur. This leaves judgment always in God's hands. We are to judge against certain things and information; never one another. Ultimately, judgment really is the Lord's.
I'm not a fan of debate. Both parties press their own agendas without taking much time to consider. I'll put it this way, the main focal point of a debate is not to consider. In fact, I'm completely content in someone not accepting my views. I can't force it upon them; but you can always have a person consider. You can always propose. You can always invite and persuade.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (Book of Mormon, Moroni, Moroni 7)
You see what I mean? Considering allows us to react in love. It encourages discussion and it grows and flourishes. It does not destroy and tear down everything altogether until there's a victor. The goal for both sides is that truth prevails. We have to consider, ponder, and meditate in order to believe, hope, and endure all things. Who knows where the discussion will lead? Unity? Overcoming fallacies? Knowledge? It may change the way you see the person and you will love him/her more. It's interesting that the two scriptures I share come from the same chapter.
In a very real way, we all are conditioned against truth in our fallen state and nature. It's the devil's tactic that we react and overreact to truth. We usually learn precept by precept; the milk. Revelation is much more direct; the meat. Both ways are necessary. A spiritual creature is more accepting and sensitive to truth. Whether spiritually or carnally-minded, there should be room to consider. On the other hand, we should be alarmed and take caution if our reaction is anger. If we react in any way which prevents us from considering something towards understanding, we should reassess ourselves. So, let us approach with confidence towards true understanding, knowing God will steer us aright with righteous judgment. Even when there is disagreement, we still leave room to find wisdom and truth in a discussion. So, let us first consider. In doing so, no matter who is wrong or right, I promise both parties will be edified.
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. (2 Timothy 2)
13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Old Testament, Proverbs, Proverbs 18)