21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
This passage is confusing to many of us, mainly because the whole wineskins thing – what is Jesus talking about? To explain this, we have to know a little biology, that when grape juice ferments into wine, it creates a lot of gas. So if you put new wine into a new wineskin, gas is created, and the skin stretches and balloons out! Now, if you pour out that wine now, and pour new wine into that old stretched out skin, gas is created, but the skin is already stretched out! So it bursts, and both are ruined.
One way to understand this passage is to see our lives as the wineskin. Often we receive new wine from God: maybe a new conviction, a fresh understanding of God’s love, a passion for worship, a vision for our future, something new that God is doing. But we fail to change our wineskins, meaning that our lives look exactly the same – we use our time the same, we have the same relationships, we have the same habits…but just like in the passage, our old stretched out lives can’t grow with the new wine God has given, and it bursts.
No, when God does something new, the structures and habits of our lives have to become new as well. If we are convicted to commit to church, then we have to make Sunday a priority, get our work done on Saturday, not staying up late. If we are convicted about evangelism, then the amount of time we spend with certain people must shift as well. What it boils down to is this: we have a bad habit of depending too much on the emotional momentum of a conviction to carry us to new levels of maturity. That passionate conviction is just the spark – you still need to feed the fire with your time, your discipline, and your habits.
1. What was the last time you really felt a conviction from God, that God was doing something new in your life?
2. Going from the above, did your life change correspondingly to make room for that conviction to grow? If not, in what ways can you make that room?
3. The reverse principle can also be helpful – changing our wineskins to prepare ourselves for something new that God wants to do! Is there something in your life that you know has to change so that you will be ready for what God wants to do?