So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15, esv).
Focus in on the word “traditions.”
How does that strike you? Holding onto “traditions.” Standing firm on “traditions.”
Hold fast to what the Lord has revealed to you in His Word. Cling to those things when you’re under pressure, when you’re feeling carried downstream by the rapids of life.
The Bible routinely condemns tradition whenever it’s held up as an authority over Scripture. Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees, “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6, niv). Paul warned the early church to “beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8, nkjv). Make your own list of religious things Christians do and believe that are not in the Bible. The examples are many and insidious. Wastes of time, if not wholly misguided.
So when Paul told the Thessalonian believers to “stand firm and hold to the traditions” that he and other faithful ministers had spoken and written about to them, he wasn’t talking at all about unhelpful, unholy traditions—what we might perceive as the “traditional” sense of that word. He was talking about things found in the Bible, things God had said and affirmed and inspired by His Spirit. Things that were true. Things that could be trusted.
I recently sat down and cataloged a list of biblical truths I’ve taught so often in our church that I’m sure people who’ve heard me say them can just about hear them in their sleep. These themes include things like:
• If you’re wrong in the way you’re right, you’re wrong even if you’re right.
• God’s love is not a pampering love; it’s a perfecting love.
• There are no enduring relationships without forgiveness.
• Gratitude is the attitude that sets the altitude for living.
• Choose to sin; choose to suffer.
• (And its flipside): Every time God says “Don’t,” He means, “Don’t hurt yourself.”
Are those just rote “traditions” to pass along? No. Statements like these are truths from the Word of truth. They’re the things I need engraved on my heart. They’re the things we can “stand firm” in and “hold to” because they’re what God teaches us in the Bible.
Do you have them? These kinds of “traditions”? And are you not only reading them and studying them and hearing them taught, but also doing them? Living them? Letting them change you?
Hold fast to what the Lord has revealed to you in His Word. Cling to those things when you’re under pressure, when you’re feeling carried downstream by the rapids of life. Stand firm. Grab on. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:11, esv). “Continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:23). “My brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (Philippians 4:1). As Jesus asked of the Father for His disciples, “Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
And as He does, “may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17).
Nothing weak and lifeless about those “traditions.”
They’re essential to your strength. Your confidence. Your certainty. Your solid ground.
Father, Your Word is so steady and reliable. All Your encouraging promises result in authentic hope—just as Your wise, corrective warnings prove equally true. They draw me away from sin, back to Your loving heart. Lead me to distrust every temptation that minimizes the importance of staying steadfast in Your Word, and of learning and loving it. Thank You for not leaving me here without Your truth to live by. I receive it today in the name of Jesus, amen.