What impact do traditions have on our relationship with Christ? Do you believe faith trumps tradition? Let's find out.
We're you taught to wash your hands before eating? Do parents teach children to wash their hands before eating today? Most would say so, but how many people go to the washroom before eating at a restaurant? Not many.
Of course, if your child had visibly dirty hands, you would send them to wash up, but otherwise, more than a few would not.
In Mathew 15:1-2 the Pharisees and teachers of Jesus are called out for not washing their hands and their feet before eating. The act defiled God according to their laws.
Jesus answers saying what defiles comes from the mouth, not from tradition.
So, why is it that we place so much weight on traditions found in our denomination or congregation? How is it that we can justify our traditions as being right? Are we right to condemn others outside who have different traditions and beliefs?
And, those of us who are quick to call out others as hypocrites(including believers and non-believers), should think before doing so. We are all hypocrites, and we are all sinners. Denying that you are not a hypocrite is in itself being a hypocrite. Nothing good comes from denying the truth.
Traditions in the Old Testament often surround the foods you eat, and how you eat as an honor to God. But Jesus states in Mathew 15:10, that what you eat does not defile you, but what you say does defile you.
He goes on to say that what goes in your mouth exits the body, but what comes out of your mouth comes from the heart, and that is what defiles you.
I find it interesting that the heart is known not only as the source of so much good but also of where evil resides. Passion for murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft and false testimony among others as noted in Mathew 15:19
So, we have to separate the good from the bad, which can sometimes appear as one in the same. Deciding what is right for ourselves and what is pleasing to God is challenging. We have to ask, “Are we putting others before us, and are we focusing on our relationship with Christ?”
We make mistakes, and excuse them because we can create a case for justifying our actions, but is our deed pleasing to God when we are selfish?
We pray about our decisions, and we listen for God to tell us what to do, and he does. But do we hear what he is saying? We have free will to choose our route, despite knowing what is right. God knows that we will do what the heart desires, and not the will of God at times of temptation. That is why he gave his only son for us.
So if temptation causes us to stray from what God wants us to do, is that the real issue, and not breaking from our traditions? We as Christians focus on the tradition that is broken, but not the selfish act which causes us to please ourselves instead of please God.
Focusing on a tradition is focusing on something other than God, even when the tradition is to honor God. We minimize the meaning of the tradition and risk the action becoming a selfish act.
Faith Trumps Tradition and Fills are Needs
In most of my writing, I keep coming back to, “Do you believe God?” If you have faith in God, you don't need traditions, just your connection with him through Jesus.
The selfish decisions driven by temptation are only at the moment. But, the pains caused by our errors are with us until we are willing to let go of our past.
We can avoid our struggles by choosing to believe God and to do his will. The temptation will wither, and joy will overcome us as we let go of our traditions and embrace our faith.