1 Corinthians 11: Hats/No Hats
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything,
and hold firmly to the traditions,
just as I delivered them to you.”
1 Corinthians 11:1
What is your favorite family tradition? What purpose does it serve?
My family would answer, “Mom singing “Happy Birthday!”. We observed birthdays one way—not as a rule. So, occasionally we would change things a bit. But always the day included a cake, present, favorite meal, and the birthday song. As my children left home the tradition changed.
Every birthday, I call and sing “ Happy Birthday” to the one celebrating. You may think that is a sweet sentiment. I think so, but I’m not sure my family does. I cannot carry a tune in the proverbial bucket. My bucket has holes in it draining the tune right out. But it’s the heart that counts, right?
Traditions don’t belong to families alone.
They are found in churches around the world and have existed through the ages. Paul urges the Corinthian church to keep the traditions he taught them. For traditions serve as a means of uniting the body of Christ through uniform practices. Yet, they divide when a tradition oversteps the rule of scripture teaching love for one another.
Traditions? Good or bad? Rule or choice? The debate continues in churches today with phrases like, “We’ve always done it this way.” “It was good enough for our forefathers, it’s good enough for us.” Referring to the birthday example; If I made it a rule anyone coming into my family had to celebrate like I do, my freedom to celebrate my way casts love aside. A couple in my family have perfect pitch. Yes, my singing hurts their ears. For them, my tradition is talking the Birthday Song to them. (By the way, some of the others try to make me believe they have perfect pitch, too!) We have fun with this tradition and when I’m gone, I know one thing they will talk and laugh about. Traditions are meant to serve as a point of unity, not division.
The traditions Paul spoke of grew out of his relationship with the Lord and answered the questions the Corinthians had about things. In chapter 11, it included
- wearing hats or not wearing hats;
- the role of men and women;
- the manner in which the Lord’s supper is taken.
Any of this sound applicable to our world? Paul explains the precept of traditions grown out of personal preferences.
“However, in the Lord,
neither is woman independent of man,
nor is man independent of woman.
For as the woman originates from the man,
so also the man has his birth through the woman;
and all things originate from God.” (11,12)
We are all connected in one way or another. Paul warns about letting traditions rule over love. The outcome is—
- coming together for the worse not the better;
- causing contention; divisions and factions.
He speaks of examining ourselves in regard to taking the Lord’s supper. It’s good to apply his advice to all our traditions. When in doubt about holding to or releasing a tradition ask yourself—
- Are they serving their purpose?
- Are they unifying or dividing?
- Are they substantiated by scripture?
For Thought: What traditions does your church hold to? Are they uniting or dividing the body?
Today’s Scripture Reading: Romans 14:1-8: What instruction do these verses add to judging our traditions? Write them down.
Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep us mindful of the Lord who is over his church. Guide us in your wisdom. Fill our hearts with love for one another. Help us hold to the good traditions and release those which divide. May your love rule in all.