What Can We Learn From;
“New Patches” and “Old Wineskins”?
Matthew 9:16-17; Ephesians 4
As it turns out we can actually learn quite a lot! In this simple parable-like statement we may just find some keys to staying in the life-giving flow of what the Lord is doing on the Earth for the rest of our lives!
Jesus spoke these words to address the concerns of some religious people who were apparently offended. Their issues centered around the fact that He was not leading His disciples to follow some traditional practices they believed godly people should observe.
While these words were originally directed to the individuals who confronted Him, they are also meant to burn a truth into our own hearts that we dare not forget!
Lesson #1 A “New” Patch is likely to wreck an “Old” Garment
This simple illustration alludes to the reality that regardless of the Lord’s intent, the appearance of even what is needed most is likely to have a very disruptive effect on what has been useful in seasons gone by.
The conflict between new movements and the older, more trusted, institutions is well documented throughout the history of the church. Virtually every time God has introduced a new era of revelation or an outpouring of His Spirit, the previous environment and culture of the church have endured a season of significant disruption. Whether due to a hardness of heart, nostalgia or pride over past success, it is not uncommon that participants in a previous move of God will, in effect, “persecute, “the movement which follows.
Lesson #2 “New Wine” requires pliable vessels!
In the New Testament Israel, wine was a staple drink. Well before other portable vessels were common and affordable, the skin of a small goat or lamb would be used to store as well as to carry wine as people went about their daily lives.
When fresh grape juice was taken from a vendor and placed in a wineskin it would begin to ferment and produce significant pressure inside. If the wineskin happened to be a “well-used” one it would tend to have limited ability to respond well to the rising pressure. In a relatively short period of time, there was a distinct danger that the “experienced” vessel would rupture, resulting in the loss of what had been poured in!
Jesus made it clear that “old wineskins” would have significant potential to be broken and ruined due to the powerful dynamic of the “new wine”. The sense I come away with is that Jesus is appealing to each of us to be careful not to become used to a God that only “fills” us with that which will not stretch us!
I also sense that the Lord is displaying His hesitancy to pour His immensely valuable “new” wine, into vessels that would in effect “waste” what He wants to share with those who desperately need a drink!
Religious traditions, liturgies, programs, organizations and even commitment to personally held systems of belief can be the kind of “rigid” wineskins that no longer have a teachable spirit or the capability to “adapt” to what the Lord wants to entrust to His church!
May it never be so with us!
As a means to keep us on a pathway that will enable us to avoid either of the pitfalls mentioned above, I want to share some thoughts from Ephesians chapter 4.
I believe the significant principles laid down in this chapter are intended to help every believer stay “conditioned” to grow and participate in everything the Lord has planned for His church. The short outline that follows provides a great model for lives that will be able to avoid the problems mentioned in reference to the garments and wineskins.
V.1 Balance the scales with your lifestyle.
V.3 Constantly seek unity and peace.
Vs.4-7 Stay focused on the magnitude of what God is doing in His church!
Vs. 11-12 Take full advantage of God’s gifts to you designed to help you recover and (or) discover Kingdom functionality!
Vs. 13-15 Focus on a proper set of goals.
v.16 Realize that “growing up” means “pitching in!”
Vs. 17-32 Get a grip on practical godliness!