Tradition is often given a negative connotation in today’s church but that is a mistake. Jesus did speak against the traditions of man but that was in the context of man made legalism. St. Paul wrote in 2 Thess. 2:15 “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”
Godly tradition represents the mind of the Church throughout the ages on how Scripture is to be interpreted and applied as well as a guide for where the Scripture is silent. The truth of the Holy Trinity is the finest example of godly tradition. If I had never been exposed to the traditions of the Church and was placed on an island with only a Bible, I would have never understood the doctrine of the Trinity as explained by the Creeds. But once I received the Church’s teaching on it, this truth becomes obvious throughout Holy Scripture.
Tradition also guides our common life as a Church. St. Paul told the Church in Corinth that “all things are to be done decently and in order.” How do we do that? The Canons of the Church show us what is decent and in order. Thus I don’t stand up each week and ask, “So who would like to celebrate Holy Communion this Sunday?” Through tradition we understand that is the role of the Bishops and Priests to see that the Sacraments are duly administered even though there is no specific chapter and verse that dictates this.
In essence godly tradition is how we preserve the guidance of the Holy Spirit for future generations. Those who care about what the Spirit is saying to the Church today should also care about what the Spirit said to the Church yesterday. Godly tradition is good stewardship in that it saves future generations from wasting time and energy trying to discern what God has already made clear to the Church. If ever a tradition can be shown to be contrary to Holy Scripture then it is by definition not a godly tradition and must be rejected as the traditions of man.