Scripture: from verse 23
[Traditional rules ]have the outward appearance of wisdom, but they have no value at all in restraining people from indulging their old nature.
Observation: Here is the guideline we should be using when we choose what rules and traditions to follow: does it help me avoid my sin nature? Does it help me love others and love God?
I find it easier to love people after I post on this blog. Apparently spending a short time thinking about God’s grace and love helps me see others in a more gracious light. Sometimes I even do it right before a social situation that might be difficult, in the hope that I’ll navigate it more easily. It seems to help. So that’s why I do it. I miss days, and I will probably keep missing days for as long as I do it, but I’m not doing it as a demonstration of how disciplined I am. I’m doing it because it helps me to love better.
My husband keeps kosher (avoids eating the animals listed as unclean in Leviticus) because it helps him love God and love others. I don’t really get it, to be honest, but I keep kosher to support him. Because it’s good for our family and our community.
And there’s a lot of rules out there about what Christians should eat and not eat, wear and not wear, read and listen to and do and visit. I generally ignore them, unless I find one that helps me love God better. Because that’s the only thing that matters.
Application: Pursue love. Don’t worry about things that don’t help you love God and love others.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for being there to guide me. Please help me to live wisely. Amen.
Scripture: verse 16
So don’t let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh or Shabbat.
Observation: “So” implies that the previous passage laid the groundwork and gave the reasoning for this statement. The previous passage is about how Yeshua triumphed over earthly authorities and wiped away our bill of debt and freed us from sin.
Therefore, because you have been freed from sin and bondage to human tradition, don’t let humans pass judgement on you. (And, one would assume, don’t pass judgement on others.)
This doesn’t say that the traditions around these holidays are bad. They aren’t, and God calls some people to follow them at various times and for various reasons. But that’s between you and God and maybe your family.
How others worship is not my business. I do like to ask, because it’s really cool to learn about all the different things God has us do and how we’re all designed differently, but it isn’t my place to say someone is doing it wrong. It never has been.
Application: Don’t judge others for things that aren’t clearly sinful. We all do life a little differently. That’s cause for celebration, not criticism.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for being flexible, for meeting me where I am and with what I need instead of demanding that I conform to some model that I can’t fit. Help me to celebrate with other people and not be a stumbling block (Rom 14:13) to them. Amen.
Scripture: verse 15
[He stripped] the rulers and authorities of their power… triumphing over them by means of the stake
Observation: I grew up with undiagnosed selective mutism, a form of social anxiety where the speech centers of my brain would shut down and I would become mute when I got anxious – especially if I was expected to explain or defend myself. This tended to be a problem, as I’m sure you can imagine.
So when I hear about being slaves to sin and prisoners of darkness, that’s what I think of. The paralyzing fear that made it impossible to think, but was so all-encompassing that I was in college before we realized something was wrong.
And that’s what Yeshua broke. He stripped that anxiety of its authority over me. The fear that I wasn’t good enough and would never measure up is overcome by the truth that I am His now, and He is good enough and He measures up. He’s the only one allowed to judge me now, and He says I’m perfect.
I am free now. I haven’t been mute since God miraculously broke the selective mutism about six months after I got married. I do still have some social anxiety, but it doesn’t imprison me like it used to. Yeshua died to wash away its power.
Application: Seek freedom. The things that bind you have no power anymore.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for freeing me. Thank you for making me a daughter instead of a slave. Help me to turn over to you the things that still hold me back. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 8
Human tradition…accords with the elemental spirits of the world but does not accord with the Messiah.
Observation: For a while I read the blog at MMSL, because I thought he had some interesting thoughts about relationships and the monogamous sexual dynamic. I really like some of his ideas, but I eventually found it distasteful (though, I must admit, not necessarily false) that he assumes that the only real motivations we have are sex and fear.
These are the elemental spirits of the world. The need to survive, the need to leave a legacy and a family and know that we will not be entirely forgotten. The need to be loved and accepted by others. The need to be safe from the unknowns of the universe. Sex and fear.
And so we have human tradition and human culture, which stems from these things. And they create some amazing and wonderful things: family, and music, and law. There is truth and love and light mixed in with the darkness. But they still have that unspoken agreement with the fears that drive us as humans.
And then there’s Messiah. Who brings us life, and life abundantly (John 10:10). Who says that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6). Who promises that in all these things we will be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Who gives us perfect love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
We don’t have to be afraid anymore.
I’m not saying we should reject all of human tradition. That would be impractical as well as unnecessary. But human tradition shouldn’t rule us, because parts of it no longer make sense. If we are in Messiah, we don’t have to be afraid. And if we aren’t afraid, we are free to choose what will bless us and those around us.
Application: Watch out for that fear. It doesn’t accomplish anything good. Ask God for guidance as you decide how to live.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for removing my fear. Thank you for shedding light into the darkness. Help me to choose to live in the light. Amen.
Scripture: from verses 2 and 3
…that [you] may have all the riches derived from being assured of understanding and fully knowing God’s secret truth, which is — the Messiah! It is in him that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
Observation: Paul’s goal is for us to have all the benefit of knowing the Messiah.
I’m somehow reminded of Yoda by this. Admittedly I did see a Yoda-related video on YouTube earlier, so perhaps that is why. But Yoda is a little tiny creature with 900 years of wisdom and experience and knowledge of the Force inside him, and he’s the only source for that knowledge in the entire galaxy. He doesn’t look like much, but he has everything.
And Yeshua is the wellspring of life. If the Force existed, He would be the Source of the Force, the only one capable of seeing every thread and intersection as well as the pattern of the whole.
There’s a lot we can figure out on our own. But if we want to Truth, the real powerful ground-level truth that is capable of keeping us safe and making us whole, we have to go to the Source.
Application: Seek the Truth. Seek His face.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because you are the Source of everything I need, and you have every answer to every mystery. You are the one who can show me the beauty you created. Help me to seek your face and not be satisfied with partial truths. Amen.