I began by speaking of the stuff we do under the guise of Christian faith. Often times we fall into the trap of doing things due to tradition or to please others. We allow ourselves to be drawn from that place of grace to that place of trying to earn our way. We do a lot of stuff, often good stuff, but how often do we stop and evaluate the stuff that we do. Why do we do it? What are our true motives? Do we do it out of obligation, or devotion? Is it birthed in that place of intimacy, or of guilt? Has the Lord commanded it, or man. Is what we do biblical, or traditional? How about those phrases that slip so glibly off our lips? These are not easy questions, but if we really want to walk in the Lord’s will, they are necessary questions. In fact, these are areas where the Lord deliberately challenged the religious leaders of His day.
Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”
But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. (Luke 6:1–11)
The disciples also confronted these things when they saw them. Paul confronted not just the churches he established, but Peter as well.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:11–16)
When some Hebrew believers attempted to force the gentile believers to conform to their laws and traditions, Paul and Barnabas brought the issue to the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem who after considering the question wrote to the Gentiles:
The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Farewell. (Acts 15:23–29)
So then let us make choices. Let us stop and consider the things we say and do. First and foremost, is it scriptural? Or is it traditional? Are you sure about that? I ask, because the more I study God’s Word, the more I find that stuff I thought to be truth just isn’t there. So ask yourself, do we say and do things because God wants us to, or do we do them because of our desire to please man? Are we like Martha worried about many things? Or will we, like Mary, choose the better thing, to rest at His feet, gaze in His face, and listen to His words? Let us choose grace in all we say and do.