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The Truth of Tradition

October 11, 2015


Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Tradition can be the glue that keeps people in unity and give them familiar footing in an ever changing, increasingly sinful world, but it can also be a tool that hell employs to stunt Christian growth and prevent those who truly want to serve God from understanding scriptural guidance that separates them further from the world. Tradition can quickly become a cancer that spreads through a congregation, keeping them rooted in the familiar – because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

I once heard a pastor talk about a woman who was preparing a family dinner. She was cooking a ham and before putting it in the oven she cut it in half. Curious, her husband asked her why she did that. She replied, “That’s the way my mother always did it.”

This made the husband even more curious. “Why did she do it?” He asked.

“I don’t really know.” The wife answered.

The husband decided to call his mother-in-law to get to the bottom of the mystery. When asked, the mother-in-law answered, “Well, that’s the way my mother always did it.”

Intrigued even further (and the wife was getting curious at this point too) the couple decided to call the wife’s grandmother. Once on the phone, the wife asked, “Grandmother, why did you always cut your ham in half before cooking it?”

The grandmother replied, “Well, my pan wasn’t big enough to hold an entire ham so I could only cook half at a time.”

Sometimes traditions are not what they seem – or even necessary.

Sometimes though the way it’s always been done isn’t the right way at all – or the way God is calling you to do it now. Christian growth is a constant process of shedding old things, putting them away so that we can grow more in Him – and that means putting many traditions behind us.

What traditions are you holding on to that are holding you back from all that God has for you? What traditions are you holding on to that you are infecting others with, thus stunting their spiritual growth as well? Every thing we do, every thing we say affects someone else, whether it’s family, friends, people we work with, people we go to church with – and people we aren’t even aware are watching us.

Don’t believe that what you do in your own walk with God does not affect someone else – that is a lie straight from hell.

Today I challenge you to break free from tradition. Pray for new eyes as you examine your traditions and ask the Lord to give you wisdom as you put things behind you – and pick new things up. Ask for understanding as you study scripture, that God speak to you and guide you to where He wants you to be. Ask for His thoughts to be yours, His words to be yours, and let your actions reflect it.

Ask for strength as you break free from the bonds of tradition. You will encounter resistance in yourself and those influenced by you. We are called to be lovers of truth though and we must seek it, hunger for it, teach it. Yes, some will turn away but Jesus Himself warned us of this. We may lose friends, family members, congregations (2 Timothy 4:2-4), but for each one who walks away from you God will reward your obedience by replacing it with a hungry soul.

We are called to love God first and foremost but the second greatest commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself – is equally important. See, it isn’t just about loving others enough to reach out, help them, and feed them. It is about loving them enough to lead them to Christ and His beautiful, wonderful truth. You love yourself enough to work out your own salvation but do you truly love others as you love yourself? Do you love them enough to share the gospel with them, to teach them not just scripture but scriptural truth that may challenge some of their closely held traditions?

It is time to be bold in your faith. It is time to lay down human traditions and follow God. In Matthew 15:1-20 Jesus has a lot to say about tradition. Every tradition should be held up to scripture with prayer for understanding and wisdom (and a submissive spirit). Then as God’s convictions lead to the laying down of traditions obedience is essential.

I ask again, what traditions are you holding on to that are holding you back from all that God has for you? What traditions are you holding on to that you are infecting others with, thus stunting their spiritual growth?


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