The handing down of information in an oral or written manner helps the cohesiveness of families and communities. Cultural continuity helps by providing a steady course over more than one generation. Families who have family traditions generally benefit from closer bonding.
A tradition, of itself, is not wrong. After all, God requires the handing down of information from generation to generation (Deuteronomy 4:9). The Psalmist Asaph penned, “… I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and have known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generations to come the praises of the Lord …” (Psalm 78:2-4).
They were to propagate by tradition, remembrance of God’s mighty deeds that He did for His people. Handing down historical accounts of God’s strength of hand.
The Apostle Paul understood this need and made some clear distinctions between good and bad traditions. He used his personal experience with Christ to emphasize, “… that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2). The content of the traditions he is referencing were based on imitating Christ.
Paul also warned of traditions that should not be handed down or engaged in. Before he was called by God, he advanced Judaism. “And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14). These traditions were based on the oral law which had been devised by men’s interpretation of the Law. Christ condemned these traditions as the doctrines of men.
God wants us to keep traditions that positively reinforce our relationship with Him. Traditions within the Church and our Church families certainly benefit in this regard. Thanksgiving, when given the intended focus, appropriately gives thanks to God for His blessings.
God is not interested in those traditions which involve the “doctrines of men” which are based on ungodly interpretations. At this time of the year Christmas certainly comes to mind as an example.
Once again, the Apostle Paul encourages us to remember and employ traditions that reinforce our connection to God and His way of life. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).