Thanksgiving turkey, lighting the Christmas Tree, 4th of July fireworks. Modern traditions which many of us observe today. We are entertained when someone is reported on the news deep-frying a turkey outdoors or decorating their home with thousands of lights, or dressing up in colonial attire to re-enact the signing of the Constitution.

Harmless fun.

Our traditions are just that: traditions. There's no offense taken (or there shouldn't be) whether someone changes it to suit himself or ignores it completely. Yet the history of the world reveals those who enforced traditions as they did laws, and imposed fines, persecutions, and even death for violating them. The Pharisees of Jesus' time were such people.

The Pharisees had elevated their traditions to a point where their observance represented a pious arrogance that expected people to violate the very laws of God on which they were based! In their eyes, washing of hands was a ceremonial process required before eating. They used this ceremony to make themselves appear devoted to God and holy before the people and judged others when they didn't do the same.

And Jesus exposed a more obvious example of the Pharisees taking away God's command to honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16) and twisting it to a 'higher purpose' that actually resulted in neglecting and abusing their parents.

Our traditions, whether cultural or religious, are just traditions and should never be used to cause others to feel guilt or to cause another to commit sin. Let's keep things in perspective and enjoy the freedom to choose our own traditions while never losing sight of God's good commands, which always bring blessings.