Discernment without Judgment
When our children or friends or leaders abandon us psychologically or spiritually, taking paths that we know will bring them and perhaps others hurt and pain, we ache for them. Like the father with two sons who went astray, each in his own way (Lk. 15:11-32), we know they are wayward. But we wait, ready to welcome them home with kisses and a feast when we see them coming while "yet a great way off" (Lk. 15:20).
And while we wait for them to return, our eye remains not on ourselves, whether on our successes or our failures, but on the work of the Father, including work for those who have strayed.
Another of Joseph Smith's revelations promises great things if our eye remains on that work, the work of divine love:
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue [moral excellence] garnish [clothe, supply a means of defense for] thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
If we live the divine life made possible through genuine conversion, a life of godly charity, then without need to judge others or ourselves, living in a world in which judgment doesn't arise as a possibility and good comes without force, we will be confident in God's presence and will receive his everlasting kingdom as our own (cf. Rom. 8:16-17).
James Faulconer is a Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University, where he has taught philosophy since 1975.