Question: Can you tell me where in the Bible (if anywhere) believers are called to "judge" others, especially another human being's spirituality or their relationship with the Lord?
The word used most often for “judge” in the New Testament is “krino,” (pronounced kree´-no). It means to distinguish between two things, such as right and wrong. It is often used in terms of a judge’s ruling in court. Jesus tells us not to put ourselves in the position of a judge over other people. However…that is not so much a commandment as it is a warning.
Matt. 7:1-2 Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
Romans teaches explicitly what Jesus implied—God Himself will judge our judgment over the behavior of others:
Rom. 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
That does not mean we will be automatically condemned for judging others, but that God will determine if our judgment was correct and judge us accordingly.
God knows the heart. He knows we are prone to step over the line from discerning judgment of right and wrong to condemnation:
Rom. 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
So, as a general rule…
1Cor. 4:5 … judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.
Are there exceptions? Yes.
The Bible does instruct believers to “judge those inside the church” who persist in “wicked” behavior.
1Cor. 5:12-13 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
Jesus gave very specific instructions for dealing with the sinful behavior of others (Matt 18:15-20). To correct sinful behavior, of course, requires identifying sinful behavior—judging between right and wrong. There’s no avoiding it.
Luke 6:44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.
In fact, the church is in training for the day when the followers of Jesus will exercise judgment over the fallen angels, and indeed, the world:
1Cor. 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
The truth is, the Lord wants to train His people to become wise, discerning people who know how to judge between right and wrong and act appropriately upon that judgment. We are not to play God and condemn people. But we cannot be wishy-washy either when it comes to how God’s people treat one another.
1Cor. 6:5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?
Let’s exercise good “judgment” in how we use the word, and do the word.