Are traditions a bad thing? It seems that the term, tradition, in general, is becoming increasingly associated with meaningless formality that is to be succumbed to for the pleasure of older generations. Perhaps, older generations have been negligent in communicating the value of tradition, or possibly, newer generations are so intent on trying to establish their independence that they are forced into dismissing traditions, simply because they did not establish them? So, are traditions important, or do they hinder our growth?

Traditions can be valuable on a family level. The holidays are upon us and with them come the traditions handed down from generation to generation. From the meals we share to the decorations we display, traditions bind us to our past, our heritage. They also guide our thinking about the future as we plan to pass them on to future generations. Family traditions help us to define who we are and how we see ourselves. Traditions are common to all of mankind. People and families of all cultures have and pass on traditions that define and guide them.

Traditions, apostolic teachings, are valuable for us, as Christians. Paul exhorted the church in Thessalonica to hold fast to the traditions, teachings and examples, given them by him through instruction, doctrine, and example: So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. . . . Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us (2 Thes 2:15; 3:6 NASB). Paul also commended the church in Corinth for holding firmly to the traditions, just as he had delivered them (1 Cor 11:2).

However, traditions can be a dangerous thing! If they are human traditions that are replacing the teachings of Christ (Col 2:8), they must be avoided! The temptation to replace God’s word with human tradition is an ancient problem. Jesus rebuked the Jews of His day for neglecting the commands of God, so that they could hold to the traditions of men. They had become experts at setting aside God’s commands to keep their own traditions (Mark 7:8-9). They were a living fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. They honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (Isa 29:13; Mark 7:5–7). So, traditions can be formal acts of pride and selfishness that hinder our faith in God and restrict our growth as individuals and families.

On the other hand, traditions do not have to be meaningless formalities that hinder our growth as individuals or families. They can be helpful reminders of what is really important, and some of them are of the greatest importance. Traditions, those passed down from Christ by His apostles, are vital to our faith! They help us remember who we are, and how we should see our selves and others. They teach us what is truly precious and important. God help us to remember to pass these traditions down to the next generation, so that they will pass them on, as well.


Jay Don

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