When Tradition opposes God’s will

JESUS SPEAKING

               Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?  They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

               Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?  For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say that if a man says to his father or mother ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it.  Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.  You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:  “‘These people honor me with their lips, But their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; Their teachings are but rules taught by men’” (Mathew 15: 1-9.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

               Over the course of many centuries, the Jewish people began to elevate their own traditions above the commandments of God.  One tradition required the people to ritualistically purify their hands before eating a meal.  The religious leaders condemned the Lord and his disciples for not observing this custom.  In turn, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for allowing one of their traditions to nullify God’s fifth commandment (“honor thy father and thy mother.”)  The tradition known as ‘Corban,’ made it acceptable to commit any or all of one’s wealth to God (and to the temple treasury.)  In turn, any money needed to care for or aide ailing parents or loved ones became null and void.  God did not create this tradition; for if He had, He would have clearly outlined it in scripture.  Jesus Christ does not honor the traditions of men; instead, he and his followers obey the laws and commandments of God (Note:  Not all traditions are evil; traditions such as adult baptism, communion, and the Lord’s Prayer are wonderful scriptural practices.) 

               There is no doubt that the Amish people possess a zeal for God.  Unfortunately, at some point, the Amish community contracted a serious case of ‘rigid traditionalism.’  They became paralyzed by rituals not outlined in scripture; rendering them nearly incapable of effectively evangelizing anyone other than their own children (evangelism is the requirement of every believer; Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”)  The (old order) Amish have made their customs a requirement for Church membership.  New members must become farmers.  Automobiles, radios, and televisions are prohibited; electricity can no longer be utilized; bicycles and wrist watches are forbidden; photographs are shunned; married men must grow beards and telephones can only be used outside of the home for business purposes, etc. (What began as a desire to not be conformed to the evils of society, has rendered them incapable of reaching the lost.) (Note:  Not all Amish traditions are wrong; many do have their genesis in scripture:  modest dress, pacifism, and the sanctity of marriage, to name a few.)

               Today, there are countless Christian denominations (non-essential practices have caused numerous divisions.)  Many have placed traditions above the laws of God.  Potential believers in Christ are seen as potential believers in the church.  But the Father has one set of standards; He has laid out what pleases Him in a book (the Holy Bible.)  Any requirements of a church not founded on God’s word are the rules of men; such rules can serve to confuse, divide, and neutralize the people of God.  (Note:  Does this mean churches that have non-biblical traditions are evil?  No.  All churches contain a measure of ‘traditionalism.’  However, we must never allow non-scriptural traditions to gain power and importance.  They are not requirements for salvation or church membership.  How can we know and understand what is truly important?  Confusion can be avoided by simply reading the bible; it is our guide; it is our source of true understanding and wisdom.  Traditions come and go, but the laws of God are eternal.)

               “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to avoid being victims of ‘traditionalism.’  May we always honor Your commandments above man-made practices.  Help us to find common ground with all those who believe.  Give us the strength to live by Your word; may we know each precept and every teaching; may we never replace Your word with our own understanding.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

 

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