A precedent occurs when a previous event or action becomes an example that is used to justify similar circumstances in the future.
Often times, these examples not only justify similar circumstances they also become embedded in traditional practices that eventually become law.
Biblically, we find these practices with the religious leaders. The scribes and Pharisees were notorious for binding various practices. In and of themselves they were not wrong to follow, but they were not God’s law.
Think about washing our hands before eating. It is a good practice. There is nothing wrong or sinful about washing our hands. However, when others are condemned because they do not follow such practices, then the precedent is incorrectly bound (see Matthew 15).
We need to be careful as leaders today that we do not take a precedent of the past, use it to justify current practices, and then bind it as law on the church.
It may be a good practice, but there may also be nothing wrong with not practicing it. The difficulty arises when it is bound on others incorrectly.