This week a Christmas tradition came to an end. The buttermilk fudge we made turned out perfectly: pure sweet creamy deliciousness that we didn’t have to eat with a spoon. Thus we thankfully ended a 15-year streak of a runny, gooey mess.
As our family grows and grows up, we have other traditions that are coming to an end as well. While I’m sad for some of them to go, I also realize that change is inevitable. Sometimes, for the sake of our physical and spiritual growth, we set aside traditions of the past with good reason. Here are three good reasons to set aside tradition:
1. When the tradition dishonors God
Jesus told the Pharisees in Mark 7:6-8, HCSB, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men. Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.” He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to keep your tradition!”
Traditions that enslave, oppress and encourage false worship must be set aside for the truth of the gospel. Jesus had harsh words for the Pharisees for enslaving the people with legalism rooted in religious tradition. Instead, the gospel of Christ is rooted in a relationship of love with our Creator that translates to loving those around us and seeking God’s best for them. If you practice a tradition for the sake of tradition itself, it needs to stop. Now.
What traditions do you keep that invalidate God’s commands?
2. When the tradition facilitates pretense
We all want to portray ourselves in the best light possible, but sometimes our traditions facilitate pretense, causing us to be dishonest with ourselves and with God.
Again, Jesus criticized the Pharisees for this type of behavior: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (Matthew 23:18, NASB).
Pretense facilitates an “I’m OK. You’re OK” mentality that keeps us from admitting the truth: we are all sinners trying to make sense of the messed up world we’ve created and of which we are a part. Pretense denies our need for a Savior.
In what areas of your life are you pretending?
3. When the tradition stifles the work of the Holy Spirit
The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 43:18-19 HCSB, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to the things of old. Look I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Tradition can keep us from allowing the Holy Spirit to do a new work in our lives and the lives of those around us. When we adhere to tradition too strongly, as the Pharisees and Sadducees did, we can miss the Messiah living among us.
What “new thing” does Christ want to do in your life in 2015?
Let Him do it. Now.