All of us have traditions. It might be return trips to a favorite vacation spot. Maybe it’s having big family celebrations on a certain day. Or it could be a favorite snack and t-shirt while watching a football game. We all have traditions, and often there’s nothing wrong with that.
But what if traditions get in the way of truly knowing God and following Jesus? Sometimes our religious traditions can do just that.
In Mark 7, some of the Pharisees and Scribes criticize Jesus because his disciples were not following the guidelines of certain ceremonial washings. Jesus’ reply was first to call them hypocrites, because “This people honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (7:6). Then, Jesus accused them of “abandoning the command of God [to] hold on to human tradition” (7:8).
The example Jesus gave involved money and how the Pharisees essentially stole what people could give to help their fathers and mothers, thus causing these people to forsake the command of Moses to honor father and mother. Then, Jesus said, “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (7:13).
Traditions can be good things, but God’s word is to rule supreme in our lives. It is, after all, the very instruction and guidance he has given to us to know him and his love, and in return to love him and obey him.
We hold traditions because they are important to us or deeply meaningful. Yet, we must be willing to evaluate our traditions in light of God’s word. When we see Jesus as our greatest treasure, then we will not want anything in the way that hinders our love for him or our ability to show others his love. So, though it might be painful, we will be willing to hold our traditions loosely and let go of those that run contrary to the word of God.
This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.