For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Washing the pots and cups is like busywork—doing something just to be doing something. It’s easier to wash some pots than, say, love an enemy or give sacrificially to someone else or to bear a burden. It’s easier to do something that is overtly visible and makes us feel kind of pious than to change our behavior or our heart. It’s easier to follow along with something that sounds right and seems like what we should be doing without digging deep into God’s Word and finding out what He has to say about those things.
Do we ever hold on to some holy activity and convince ourselves that that is good enough and leave the more important things undone, telling ourselves that at least we’re doing something? Do we do the easy part of washing dishes so we don’t have to cleanse our lives of sin and impurity and unrighteousness? Is it enough for us that we’ve done some task or followed some ritual when really we haven’t pleased God at all?
What kinds of traditions are we clinging to, and are we willing to let them go if we find they don’t align with what the Scriptures say? Jesus tells the Pharisees that by insisting on keeping their traditions, they are rejecting the commandment of God. Are we really willing to go that far, doing something that makes us feel good but not necessarily doing what God would have us do? Will we really elevate things that men say above things that God says?
It wasn’t a bad thing for the Pharisees to wash their hands before they ate or to keep their dishes clean. Not every commandment of man is a bad thing to do. But we need to hold on to God’s Word as our ultimate authority in every area of our lives. In order to keep our own ways, we have to lay aside God’s ways, and what pride is in us when we do that. So are we willing to examine the things we do in our lives, maybe some rituals we have or traditions we keep, in order to ensure we have the proper heart and motive behind them and that they do not clash in any way with what God says? Then let’s not do things just to be doing something, but make sure that what we are doing will be pleasing to God.