People like to be known for their expertise. When people say you are an expert in some area they are basically saying, “Of all the people who do this in the world, you are one of the best at doing it” or “You are highly qualified to speak to this issue and we want to hear what you have to say.” We all know that seeking expert advice can bring great benefits.
We might imagine that it would be a high compliment for Jesus to say, “You are experts.” Unfortunately, some people become experts in the wrong things. Some people are experts at sinning.
Before we start thinking of people who are adept at committing crimes that could get them locked up for life, let’s consider this “compliment” (criticism) offered by Jesus to the Pharisees and scribes in Mark 7:8-9, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men…You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (NASB).
After giving an example of how they callously side-stepped God’s law, Jesus said they were guilty of “invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that” (v.13).
There is a word of warning for the church in this criticism from Jesus. We dare not become highly skilled at holding onto our traditions while we neglect God’s clear commands. Neither should we create any tradition that puts us in conflict with God’s will. Every tradition must be held up to the light of God’s revealed truth.
God was sorely displeased with the way the Pharisees and scribes were hurting the very people God’s commands were intended to protect. God is still the champion of those who deserve our love, honor and care.
Let’s outdo the experts:
- Let’s demonstrate our love for our God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).
- Let’s do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).
- Let’s abide in Jesus and walk as he walked (1 John 2:6).
As we do all of these things we will be able to discern truth from tradition and maintain a balance of conviction and compassion that will please God.