Are you humming the “tradition” song from Fiddler on the Roof?  There are many traditional behaviors of this world, both inside and outside the church, that are the result of one person being offended by another so “laws” are made up to make sure they are not offended again.  Man-made laws are created that become traditions to protect power and positions held by certain men who do not want to lose what they have gained.  County lines, for instance, were drawn up many years ago for the protection of the political men in charge at the time.  Go back in history of our own country and you will find the “backstories” of how state and county lines were decided and changed over the years.  Some will say it has to do with population and for the most part that would be true, but we have to consider who has the final vote and that would be the powerful who we put into office to govern over us.

The church has many traditions that have little to nothing to do with God’s Word with His Commandments (not suggestions) to love Him and each other, honor your parents, etc.  Many traditions are built and sustained as “laws” for certain churches that must not be broken or there will be punishment in the way of broken relationships.  Too harsh, you say?  My husband was pastor of a church full of traditions.  Being the new people to the area and to that particular church, we had to be schooled in those traditions by trial and error.  We heard often, “Well, everybody knows that.” One such tradition was that a large cross stored in the basement was to be put on display with a purple sash draped on it 3-4 weeks before Easter.  It was to remain there after Easter for effect for a few more weeks.  No one told us.  “Everybody knows that…”

Church lady, who sat in the back in her pew with her family only, was seething with anger before, during and after Easter that year.  We couldn’t figure out why.  She wouldn’t make eye contact with us much less talk with us.  She would pass out programs at the door, but not to my family.  I prayed about what to do.  And God gave me something that I knew would please her to give to her as an offering of peace.  She finally relaxed her tense shoulders and formed a smile.  The relationship took months of loving work to rebuild.  Finally, her heart softened and peace came.  It was months later that we found out at a board meeting what we did wrong.  We hadn’t brought the cross up from the basement.  Tradition.

Jesus teaches His followers (and we who follow today) about our heart conditions.  Man-made laws and addendums to God’s Law established to please mankind are not what He desires.  God looks at our hearts, knowing that what is in our hearts will spill out into our behaviors.  The Pharisees, couldn’t “see” that they were working harder to keep traditions intact to please each other and gain power and position over people versus keeping their hearts pure to please God.  They were also seething with anger because Jesus did not follow traditions of ceremonial hand washing.  Jesus, Son of God, already pure and perfect.  But they did not accept Him.

Jesus quotes Isaiah as He explains the original intent of God’s Law,

“These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

Yikes!  The traditional wooden cross kept in the basement and brought out during the season of Easter did not save souls.  Only Jesus saves souls for eternity.  Jesus—the most important relationship we will ever have.  All other pure and great relationships begin with Him.  I’m reminded of the contemporary song, “I Don’t Want to Leave a Legacy—Only Jesus” …


What traditions are we holding onto as “law”? 

Who is our Savior of our souls and Lord of our lives?

What IS the condition of my heart?  What is my behavior showing? 

Lord, what do you want from me today? 

Shine your light on my heart and my behavior.

Lord, fill my heart with all of you and wash away all that is not of you. 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Matthew—The Law Fulfilled

Matthew 15:1-20, NLT

Jesus Teaches about Inner Purity

Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”

16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Hallowed is Your Name.  May Your Kingdom come, may YOUR will be done in every detail of our lives here on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day your wisdom to discern what You want and what is mere tradition.  Help us to follow you well as your servants who long for intimate relationship with you.  May all other relationships be built based on our relationship with you first.  And forgive us when we slip into manmade traditions within your church as habit.  Help us to evaluate all that we do and get rid of all that isn’t you.  Lead us not into temptations but deliver us from evil and evil’s schemes to get us to worship traditions instead of you.  I know you will help us for with you nothing is impossible!  To you be all glory, honor and praise for all that is good.

In Jesus Name, Amen

And I’m singing…

Purify My Heart by Brian Doerksen

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner’s fire,
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin, deep within…

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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