“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.” (John 5:16)
The Pharisees had a code. It was the way they believed things ought to be done. You simply were not supposed to heal on the Sabbath. Healing someone fell under the heading of “work.” Jesus violated their code and thus was deemed guilty of death.
Many people have a code that they expect others to live up to. Those who don’t follow their code are considered “transgressors” that incur their wrath and deserve retribution. Even criminals have their own code which they enforce.
It is entirely possible for one to pride themselves on holding to their own code, while completely making void God’s standard. Jesus told the Pharisees that they needed to learn of mercy and love. Paul knew that many a zealous Jew, who kept the letter of the law, failed to walk in the spirit of the law.
Self-righteousness proceeds out of a proud assessment of how we keep to a code as opposed to others who fall short of it. Jesus told His disciples: “… That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) Our keeping to any law but the law of love and mercy inevitably falls short of God’s standard of righteousness.
Be less concerned about what you deem right and more concerned about what God calls good in His sight. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8) Do what is right before God, but be of great mercy even toward those who break His code. We are all nothing without Him. Never lift yourself up above another. Walk humbly in God’s Spirit and you will never go wrong.