In August, I had the privilege to go to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit where Patrick Lencioni spoke about his most recent book, The Advantage. One of the things he spoke about that really stuck with me was the fact that successful organizations have no more than three main focuses or filters that helps them make decisions. He said when these are clear and concise, anyone at any level within the organization is enabled to make decisions because they are able to use that filter. As followers of Jesus, we have a similar filter that helps us to make choices from day to day. In fact, the entire law was summed up by two filters: love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, strength; love your neighbor as yourself. With those filters, we have been given the ability to make decisions about what pleases God. With that in mind, read Matthew 15:1-20 to see what Jesus taught His disciples.
The Pharisees approached Jesus about why the disciples didn't follow the traditions of ceremonial hand washing. One thing I want to point out is that the Pharisees are not pointing their fingers so much at the disciples than they are at Jesus. The main responsibility of the disciple was to do whatever their Rabbi was doing. So, if the disciples were not washing their hands, then Jesus wasn't washing His hands. It was a round-about way of telling Jesus that He wasn't teaching His disciples correctly. But Jesus' answer pointed back to the difference between man-made traditions and the law that reflected God's heart. He pointed out that they ignored the filters that the law gives in order to make decisions based on their own traditional filters.
In these verses Jesus pointed out that God is looking at the heart and what it produces. What causes us to be defiled has nothing to do with how much we cleanse ourselves and following tradition; it has everything to do with what we do and say. Before we say or do anything we should be examining them through the filter of: am I loving God by doing this, am I loving others by doing this? Jesus pointed out that if following a tradition causes us to not love God and not love others than we are sinning. God's filter is best and it is the only one we need to use.
What traditions do you follow because it is something you've always done? Does it contradict God's law?
This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.