"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor".
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Jesus tells us that passing judgment on others inexplicably will put the one who judges under the judgment of others, even those who we judge. With that in mind, the premise in this passage is not to pass judgment, but to implore the one who wishes to judge anyone, (except those who have the task so pass judgment such as a judge, magistrate, or in many cases the minister) must judge only themselves and refrain from judging others. The reason Jesus placed heavy emphasis of the matter is because in this passage, he was speaking to two groups of people (Pharisees and scribes) who were notorious for judging others. They did do this to help the one judged improve their way or standard of living, rather, they did it to justify their positions and their so-called social stature among their brethren. These two groups, constantly judge others very rigidly and with gross severity, always bring down a condemnation upon those they judged.
Jesus pointed out that the motive behind their constant judging was “pride and conceit”. We are never to assume a judgment posture over anyone, not only because it is a sin, but, we wouldn’t want anyone to assume this kind of posture over us. We must not sit in the judgment-seat, as to make our word a law to every body. According to James 4:11: we must not judge our brother, that is, we must not speak evil of him. We must not hate our brother or sister, nor must we judge anyone rashly, nor pass such a judgment upon anybody that has no ground, because if we do such, it is only the outcry of our own jealousy toward that person and the exposure of our immature nature. We must not judge a person in an attempt to make the worst out of that person, nor make unjustified inferences to the things they may have done or said, causing the results of what was said and the appearance of what they may have done to be blown out of proportion. We must neither judge anyone uncharitably, unmercifully, nor with a spirit of revenge, nor with a desire to do mischief. We must not judge any man's “state or status” solely by a single word or act, neither by what he is in himself nor by what he is to us, because when it pertains to our own causes, we are more apt to judge with prejudice and with partiality.
We must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions, for it is God's prerogative and his right to try the heart of men not ours. If we presume to judge others, we should expect to be ourselves judged. The judging of those that judge others is according to the law of retaliation; in the same measure that we pass judgment upon a person, that same measure will apply when we are judged ourselves by others and especially by God. It has been said he who usurps the bench, shall be called to the bar, that is, he shall be judged of men. Another reason we must not judge others is it is common knowledge none are more judged or censured, than the very ones who judges and censures. In the same manner that Ishmael, in Genesis 16:12 has his hand and his tongue against every man. The same thing happened to him, that is, like him, had every man'shand and tongue against him. Not only that, no mercy shall be shown to the reputation of those that show no mercy to the reputation of others. Yet, that is not the worst of it. In James 3:1, they shall be judged of God and from him, (those who pass judgment) shall receive the greater judgment and that of condemnation. If we are more modest and charitable in our censures of others, and decline judging them, and judge ourselves rather, God will not judge us. God will forgive those that forgive their brethren; so he will not judge those that will not judge their brethren.