For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. – Gal 1:13-14
Paul speaks of his history, of his past desire to practice the traditions of the religion of Judaism. Of the persecution of the church of God as a result of his former life in Judaism. He was zealous. He was advancing in the traditions, seemingly due to his persecuting the church of God, trying to destroy it.
Two issues erupt in my thinking with this passage, in relation to traditions.
First, the traditions were bad! Very bad! The fruit of these traditions produced a murderous man, intent on destroying the work of God. This is an additional text in the New Testament that speaks to the negativity of traditions, religious traditions that were running amok.
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of “wisdom being justified by all her children”. No matter the appearance or method of the delivering agent (whether it be by Moses, Jesus or John the Baptist), the fruit of a teaching is how it is worked out in those who hear it, the children of the wisdom. The appearance can be ridiculed, mocked and condemned. The children of the wisdom will justify the wisdom being taught and received.
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” – Luke 7:33-35
In this regard, Paul’s desire to kill others is the fruit of a tradition that completely removed the intent of the commandments. For you see, the original intent of the Word of God was to save lives not kill. How can a man honor God by dishonoring his command not to kill?
God want’s us to honor our parents. How can I honor my parents if I become a murderous man?
God wants us to not covet. How can I love God if my motivation is to kill in order to maintain my own religion, covet my own faith?
No my friends, this tradition produced a fruit that was poisonous. Let us consider the wisdom we are consuming, in order to reflect our lives as being of the Lord, and not of some tradition that is of another intent!
Secondly, these traditions, many many moons back, were based on the Word of God. Now the iterations to take the holy commandments of God and to turn them into a belief that encourages persecution of the very followers of God, is an exercise in manipulation far beyond my understanding.
It took centuries to slip into a tradition that became a prevailing faith, and we have certainly experienced centuries of tradition within the life of the church. Over 2,000 years of manipulation by teachers and enemies within the church. This is the reason we need to refer to the Word and not depend on what a man says, even a well intentioned and or highly trained man may teach. Will we always be right if we turn to the Scriptures as our primary source. Absolutely not, for we are a weak, biased and selfish people, but we may find we are approaching a closer walk with the Master, a closer understanding of the intent of God in providing traditions for our lives.
Suffice it to say, let us depart from the “traditions of our fathers” and seek to follow the One who is worthy, who provided instruction in His Word. As Paul states just a verse later, God was pleased to reveal His Son in him. Traditions needed to be set aside in this revealing, traditions that were against God’s word and will.
Can you think of any traditions that may be causing you to loose out on God’s will?
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