My Daily Journal
The definition of focus is “the center of interest or activity.” What is your focus? What is the center of your interest or activity?
For the Pharisees and teachers who traveled from Jerusalem to meet Jesus, their focus was on “holding to the tradition of the elders.” It wasn’t on God. It wasn’t on the Messiah. It wasn’t on learning and understanding and healing and being healed. It was on ceremony. Ceremony gave them power and authority. Ceremony gave them comfort.
Ceremonies are not inherently wrong. Structure can be very helpful in our walk with God and our approach to learning and studying His word. But when they become the focus instead of an aid, then they are a distraction.
I was with a older friend recently discussing a worship service she attended. She was totally distracted because there were live plants on the alter in the church. According to tradition, only cut flowers are to be placed on the altar as a reminder of the price Christ paid. Nothing wrong with that tradition, and a great pointer back to Jesus, but when it became such a distraction that it prevented worship, it took over the focus.
We have to be careful of this in BSF and in our churches as well. There are many unspoken guidelines of “how we have always done things” that can become the focus. This can often be a major obstacle for people entering bible study or church service because they see the hypocrisy of the distraction of our heart.
The traditions are perfectly fine as “hows”. This is how I approach worship, this is how I prepare myself. But when they become the whats and whys then we need the reminder of the hymn: “turn your eyes upon Jesus… and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim”
The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions
Why do you break the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions?
It was a way of weaseling out of using money to support parents by pledging it to the church as a future contribution
The commandments come first, other things that support them are fine, but never over-rule them
let go of commands but hold to traditions. Follow certain rules and obligations but don’t have a heart for or daily walk with God – do not study His word or help others
When I go through the motions instead of taking time to prepare my heart for worship