When I mention the word “tradition,” is that a positive or negative word to you? I can probably roughly guess your age by your answer to that question. For those born before the 1950’s, the word "tradition" tends to have a positive connotation. Starting around the 1960’s, however, it took on a negative meaning, as many young people rebelled against what they considered the bad traditions of our past. For me, every time I hear that word, I think of the song from Fiddler On The Roof: "Tradition. . .TRADITION!"
Biblically, it seems to be a neutral term. It’s simply the passing on of information and “how we do things” to the next generation, which can be either good or bad. As we mentioned before, Abel seems to have inherited his faith from his parents, so that was obviously a good thing.
We have to be careful about what we're passing on, however. I remember several years ago when I studied Genesis seriously for the first time, and the study I used pointed out a pattern in Abraham’s family. In the chapter that introduces him, he lied to Pharaoh about Sarah his wife. He did it again in chapter 20, in fact admitting that this was his practice everywhere he went. In chapter 26, Isaac followed the not-so-wonderful example of his father. Of course, his son Jacob practically had his picture in the dictionary next to the word “con man.” Then Jacob’s sons all lied to their father when they brought him Joseph’s robe, which broke his heart and robbed him of twenty years with his beloved son. Finally, in today’s passage, Joseph kept up the family tradition of lying to your family.
There's bad news and good news here. The sobering fact is that we're all passing on a family tradition to the next generation whether we know it or not. Little eyes are constantly watching us, learning from our example. The question is not whether we're passing on traditions, but what type. Drunkenness, abuse, divorce, or sexual impurity are all legacies we’d rather not leave to our children, but it does happen. The good news, however, is that through Christ we can make a break with our family’s less than stellar traditions, and even start better ones! We don’t have to be bound to a sinful past, either our own or our family’s. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
For your own sake, and for the sake of those around you and coming behind you, let's start a new tradition of doing things God's way.
Thank you Lord, that you make all things new. My past is forgiven, and my future is glorious. Help me to light the way for others who are watching me.
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