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Keep traditions in the spirit of God

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POSTED: July 29, 2014 1:00 p.m.

Teachers in Bryan County schools go back to work Monday, and the students will only be a week behind them.  
It seems so odd to me that school starts in August. Oh, I know the reasons why. The semester system seems to work better than the old quarter system, and it makes sense to finish the semester before Christmas.  
I mean, teachers tell me that students forget a lot over the summer. The first few weeks of fourth grade simply repeat the final weeks of third grade in order to get them caught up. It would be bad to take two weeks off in the middle of the semester.
Still, it is odd to me. Tradition tells me that school should start somewhere around Labor Day.  
Tradition is an interesting word and concept. Some traditions are so important to us. In your family, when do you open the Christmas gifts? My wife and I were married Dec. 22, and our parents had different Christmas traditions. Guess what our first dispute was after we were married?
Not only do families have traditions, but so do companies, schools and churches. It often is difficult to know how some traditions started. It’s even more difficult to change some of them.    
There is the story of four generations of ladies who always cooked ham at Christmas time. In each case, they cut of about an inch off the ham on either end before putting it in the oven. The youngest lady’s husband just didn’t understand the reasoning for that. So he asked her mother why they did it.
Her answer was, “My mother did it.”
So they asked the grandmother why, and she said the same thing: “Mom did it.”
When they asked the great-grandmother why she cut off 2 inches of the ham, they were shocked by her answer: “I didn’t have a pan big enough to cook the whole ham.”  
And so, three generations had thrown away perfectly good meat because they were doing the same thing.  
Jesus had harsh words for those who followed foolish traditions while having a bad attitude toward people.
“Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of tradition?” he asked the Pharisees. In other words, obeying God is far more important than doing what we always have done.
Not all traditions are bad. But we need to ask, “Why am I doing it this way? Is this the only way to do it?” Perhaps it is. But we need to be sure that we are following God’s commands first.  
If the tradition helps us, that is fine. But let us be sure that the things that matter to us are truly God’s commands before we insist that others do just as we do. The important thing is to obey the Lord.

 

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