“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:8).
Traditions are good—as long as they don’t take the place of divine orders.
No matter which branch of the U.S. Armed Forces a person may serve in, he is a member of something that is steeped in tradition. If he did not know of the traditions before basic training, he soon learned.
Good traditions are carryovers of that which was good in the past. They are reminders of values and expectations. They become cherished symbols.
Bad traditions become enemy agents.
Jesus was talking about religious traditions. The Jewish people of his day had developed a whole series of traditions that were tied to faith life. In and of themselves, some of them may have been harmless, but when they took the place of real religion, they became dangerous.
Other Jewish traditions were clearly wrong.
How was a person to know what was an empty tradition? How could one detect which ones were simply wrong?
Jesus points to the easy answer: Compare them to the commands of God.
The Reformation exposed man-made traditions as empty, and even dangerous if they led a person away from the holy God.
We uphold that tradition.
A tradition in the Armed Forces that glorifies drunkenness, foul language, or any other sin is a discredit to honorable conduct. It besmirches the uniform. It is not a reflection of the best that America has to offer.
The Christian warrior knows better. His primary code of conduct is written, not in the words of DoD directives or military regulations, but on the pages of Holy Writ.
It was formulated by no committee. It did not grow to adapt to new attitudes. It came from the heart of a Father who is speaking to those that he dearly loves. It came from the early edge of eternity, and will stand for all the rest of timelessness.
These commands are always honorable; always correct, and always fitting. They establish a glorious tradition.
Those who follow them stand in the tradition of the heroes of faith. They follow in the footsteps of a great King David, of a famous Saint Paul, of a faithful Stephen—the first to die for the Christian faith.
A long line of fighters against Satan has followed the famous ones. We have come to know some of them. Some were fathers and mothers who kept us on the right path.
We cherish and follow good traditions. Best of which is the tradition of faithfulness.
When faithful to our Savior God, everything else falls into line.
O Lord our God, in one of our hymns we sing, “Teach me to walk in thy commands, Tis a delightful road.” We come before you with that prayer now. Keep us always in the tradition of your faithful ones.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military