So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” Mark 7:5
This wasn’t a hygiene issue but rather an issue of obeying a tradition. The Pharisees had chosen to focus on the trivial at the expense of the important and created an inaccurate picture of what God is like—a God who nitpicks and is hard to please.
The Pharisees had a great historic heritage. As Paul says, “Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah” (Romans 9:4-5). Yet they chose to focus on minute details of the law and neglected to be loving.
I wonder if we sometimes do the same? We create practices and routines which may have at one time been helpful but have now become traditions. Furthermore, we have been doing them for so long we have forgotten why we started or why we thought they were helpful. It may be something as simple as reading the Bible for ten minutes every day which is a helpful spiritual discipline but when we make it compulsory for others it becomes a burden.
If we start expecting others to follow our man-made rules simply because we find them helpful, we have a problem and cease to be Christ-like. When we’re too focused on the trivial we will overlook the important.
From time to time we need to examine our traditions and consider whether they are still helpful or if they are creating a stumbling block for others to join us.