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Why People Do What They Do?: Honoring Traditions

Tradition can be a powerful motivator. Traditions can be like laws, meaning the group following them will not accept any change or departure from their custom. Traditions can also be a way of acting that varies with life changes.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul urged the Church to stand fast and hold to the traditions. What did he mean by that? We think he meant to follow the Gospel, participate in communion, and honor the Sabbath. We don’t think he meant to rigidly complete tasks that are form over substance such as those Christ condemned in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. Quoting from Isaiah, Christ said “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

In Genesis 17, God told Abraham “you are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.” This tradition became one that could not be varied, essentially with the force of law, ….. until the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 7:19, Paul said “circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.”

Traditions can come into play as people make decisions regarding how property is used, or will be used. I once had a client who owned a farm and the farm had been in the family for multiple generations. This person was intent on the farm surviving and his estate plan was structured around that desire. Potential heirs who were uninterested in continuing the farm were left out of the estate plan. Whether this is a good way to conduct your planning isn’t the point of this post. The point is that traditions of many shapes and sizes can impact how people think and act. The question you have to ask yourself is whether tradition is an appropriate decision-making tool for you. You also have to ask whether your particular tradition has served its purpose and whether it’s time for change.

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