On being "overly righteous"
English Standard Version - "Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?"
King James Version - "Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?"
Here are some of the faithful commentators of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Jamieson, Fausett & Brown - "Be not righteous over much," may be taken as Solomon's words, forbidding a self-made righteousness of outward performances, which would wrest salvation from God, instead of receiving it as the gift of His grace. It is a fanatical, pharisaical righteousness, separated from God; for the "fear of God" is in antithesis to it".
Matthew Henry - "Note, there may be overdoing in well doing".
Matthew Poole - "Be not righteous over much" - "by being too severe in observing, censuring and punishing the faults of others beyond the rules of equity, without giving any allowance for human infirmity, extraordinary temptations, the state of times and other circumstances."
I find that most christian friendships, relationships and our own life falls apart, because we do not listen to the wise teachers, e.g. Solomon in Ecclesiastes, Paul in Romans, and God's faithful expositors.
When we don't take God's provision of the the righteousness of Christ as a free gift to us, we go on ignorantly establishing our own righteousness (Romans 10:3). And being zealous like the Jews of old we push away, cross, cut down, and kill everything and everyone that stands in our way in accomplishing our own righteousness. The reason for it is that we feel we must prove to God, before others (usually fellow Christians) and to ourselves that we are righteous and acceptable. It is right to want to be righteous before God, but this is the wrong way.
Paul says in Romans 5:17, "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." It is these ones that receive "the abundance and the free gift of righteousness" that will "reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ" as kings - victorious over their their selfishness, pride, stubbornness and rebellion that is in our heart by nature. Let's pause and ponder on this truth. We can reign in life, now, this is God's provision in Christ Jesus. But are we? What is the reason for us not reigning victorious over our sin through Christ? Perhaps, e.g. the truth of Romans 5:17 and Ecclesiastes 7:16 is not heeded.
Let's hear Paul again, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:8-11) The result? - "...becoming like him in his death", dead to self and alive to God, "not my will, but yours be done". Why has Paul written his letters to different churches? Yes, to encourage and strengthen the believers in Christ, but also to correct wrong teaching and lifestyle.
Let's seek to study God's word, seek his Spirit's understanding, and replace the lies with the truth in our minds, "...as the truth is in Jesus." (Ephesians 4:21b). Good fruit will be inevitable.