November 28, 2017
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. – Colossians 2:8
When I was growing up, there were six of us children in our little Minnesota cabin, and our diet was simple farm food. We seldom lacked for eggs, milk, or meat. When Mother made pancakes, we often had good country bacon, cured in barrels down in our cellar, to go with the cakes. It was easier for Mother to roll a pancake around a piece of bacon and let us eat it with our hands than to take the time to prepare six plates of food, so I learned to eat my pancakes that way.
Now I am a great-grandmother, but when my family goes out for breakfast, I still like to eat my pancakes and bacon in that “traditional” manner. (Of course, I try to be discreet so as not to embarrass those with me.) We have many traditions in our home, some of which have changed through the years, but this is one I seem to hang on to. I have yet to see one of my children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren follow in my footsteps, but that is okay because I know there is little importance behind this habit. It is simply a tradition of mine.
The Jewish people had many religious customs. Some were based on laws God had given them; for example, ceremonies for circumcisions and sacrifices were intended to foreshadow the New Covenant that Jesus would bring. However, many hundreds of others had been added by the religious leaders. For some Jews, these rituals had replaced real faith. When Jesus came, He wanted the Jews to understand that traditions of man could not save their souls; they needed forgiveness of sins and to live by God’s precepts.
Most of our families have traditions relating to the Christmas season. They are a way of remembering Jesus’ birth, and that is pleasing to God. Yet, we must be careful not to let our focus drift to the ritual rather than the meaning behind our actions. Without the right motive in our hearts, our actions have about as much spiritual meaning as our chosen method for pancake eating.
At Christmas time, we want our family traditions to remind us of how thankful we are for the many blessings God has given us, above all for sending His Son to pay the price of our salvation. When we put up our favorite decorations, eat special meals and desserts, and carry out other similar traditions, let us make sure we are doing these things because we want to remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior.