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It’s a common practice for people to continue doing what they have always done. Many times, a practice gets started in the past, and people continue it whether they know the reason for it or not. If something goes against how you are used to it being done, then alarms go off in your head. For example, analog clocks always tell time by having the hands go around clockwise or from left to right from our perspective. If you saw a clock that was reversed with the numbers 1,2,3, etc. on the left side as you are looking at the clock, instead of on the right, and the hands were traveling counter-clockwise, from right to left, it would mess with your mind. You would probably think it was wrong, but it really isn’t. It would take some practice, but you could tell time even if the clock was reversed.

The reason clocks turn clockwise is because they copied the sundial, which also moves in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere. I personally wouldn’t want a backward running clock, but it would still tell time correctly.

Consider the following story that illustrates how a practice can get started for one reason but continue years later for another reason.

There was a spiritual teacher in ancient India. When the teacher and his disciples began their meditation, the cat who lived in the surroundings of the monastery caused a disturbance by moving around and making loud sounds.

So, the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during meditation. A few years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up.

Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.

This funny little story shows how someone might start a practice, such as tying a cat up to keep it quiet during meditation time, that continues to blossom into a new story about how tying a cat up is part of the meditation practice.

Think about some of the things you were taught when growing up that were practiced just because your parents practiced them. One thing I hear all the time is people saying, “bless you” when you sneeze, but this came from the idea that your sneeze is getting rid of demons. Of course, back during the bubonic plague, a pope suggested that saying “bless you” after one sneezes might prevent the person from dying from the plague. Others thought if you blessed someone’s sneeze, God would prevent your spirit from being expelled from your body. Though I am sure some of you probably say, “bless you,” when someone sneezes, you were probably taught it was good manners to do so.

The reason I am telling you all of this is because people tend to pass on certain teachings from the Bible and do certain things in worship without ever questioning it or considering how it got started. For example, most religious groups that exist today use musical instruments as part of their worship to God. It seems normal and natural to them, and it messes with their minds if they find out that a congregation like ours doesn’t use them. What they don’t realize is that many of these same religious groups they belong to used to be opposed to musical instruments in worship. Back during the restoration period, their leaders spoke out against their use, but people started using them anyway until they got used to them, and they continue to use them today as if they were just part of what we are supposed to do in our worship to God.

If they took the time to think for themselves instead of just blindly following what was passed down, they would see that the early church did not use musical instruments in their worship. They could also see from the New Testament that singing is commanded (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19), but using musical instruments is not nor is there an example of them being used. In fact, it wouldn’t be until centuries later that musical instruments began to be slowly introduced into religious gatherings, but it often caused controversy.

The use of musical instruments is just one example of many. The point of this devotional is to remind you to think for yourself. There is no reason you should blindly believe what I say or what anyone else says because you can confirm it from the Bible. Back in history, before the printing press, people had limited access to the Bible and other knowledge, but we don’t have that excuse. In fact, we have more of a problem of having access to too much information. The only reason I say “problem” is because it can become overwhelming with all that is out there on any given topic, and it can be challenging at times to sort through what is reliable or unreliable information. However, there is no reason we can’t make an informed decision about how to do things that are pleasing to God because we have all the information we need. The same is true about information regarding things outside the Bible as well.

So, I encourage you to test things and not just blindly follow a man or a woman or an idea or practice that was passed down to you, especially regarding the Word of God. With this thought in mind, I will close with the words of Paul to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV)

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