Everyone has traditions. From Christmas traditions to daily routines, we always lean to following patterns. But has our relationship with Christ become overshadowed by our traditions? Are our routines based on Him and His word, or man-made guidelines in order to be “more holy.”
Let’s take a step back and look at a group so centered around traditions that they lost sight of what it means to serve God and follow Christ. You probably guessed it – we’re talking about the Pharisees.
While there are a multitude of examples of how the Pharisees valued traditions over following Christ/serving God, let’s just focus on an account in Mark 7:1-23. Basically, the Pharisees were appalled that the disciples were eating with unwashed hands. (The tradition of washing hands was rooted in the idea of being “clean.” Many times the Pharisees used hand washing to show their “superiority” over others or to assert that they were “more holy” for sticking to such strict rituals and traditions.)
When the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples did not stick to the “traditions of the elders” Jesus responded:
“Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites,as it is written: 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 maintain your tradition!”
How many times have we looked at others the way the Pharisees looked at the disciples?
How many times have we said, “well, we have always done it this way.”
How many times have thought ourselves superior to others because we do things in the church one way.
*Side note: we aren’t talking about following what God tells us to do, but rather what we do out of our selfishness or desire to be “more holy.”
I think, at some point, we are all guilty of having this mindset. It’s inevitable. We’re naturally sinful.
But what we need is God’s grace to absolutely overcome our lives. What we need is a desire to serve Christ the way He commands, the way He calls us to.
It is so easy for us to try and compare ourselves to others in a way that elevates us. What we need is to humble ourselves and look at the world through Christ’s eyes, to see the needs and the hurt in the world. We need to serve as He served, walk as He walked. We need to make our every action and every word, every thought and desire of our heart, every fiber of our being, to long for Him. We need Him to be the center of every single thing we do. We need Him to radically take over our lives. And we do that by surrendering to Him. Completely and fully surrendering to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We must cry out to Him and ask Him to redefine our views, to reconstruct our hearts and give us a heart like His.
Today, let us look at where we are. Let us see if we are acting like the Pharisees. If we are, pray that He will guide us to live a life like His.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you…Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.Romans 12:3,9-16