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New Wine in Old Skins

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins. Mark 2:21-22

I think Christian families are putting new wine in old wineskins. I think churches are doing it too. They’re pouring the new wine of grace into the old skins of legalism. They’re doing it because they want control. They want to control their congregations, or they want to control their wives and husbands and children, and so they use this legalistic approach.

But then they teach grace within it! Essentially they say, “Okay, if you stay under my rules, you will have grace. You will have freedom. But when you get outside of my rules, I will get angry. I’ll use anger to pull you back in and control you. I will drop the law on you.”

old wine new skinsAnd now we have a conflict! I should know, since I’ve just been exposed to it. During the off-season, my wife said to me, “You know what? It seems like you treat baseball players with grace, and you treat us in law.” I asked her, “What do you mean?” And she said, “Well, when we don’t do what you want us to do, you get angry with us. You’re afraid that we won’t look right. We won’t look a certain way in other people’s eyes. You won’t look like you have a good family. But when a ballplayer messes up, you don’t even react to it. Instead you say they’re only human, so of course they’re going to mess up. For them, you decide to live in grace. You say you’re going to love them, because they won’t be able to see Jesus if you judge them. So you give them grace. But you judge us! We’re your family, and you judge us!”

I heard that, and it crushed me. It absolutely crushed me. My wife was right. She was so right! I was mixing grace and legalism in my life. And do you know what? My life was literally imploding.

I was frustrated and stressed at home, but I would get to the ballpark and feel no stress at all. At the ballpark, I was so relaxed. I felt free. I didn’t feel bound up. I didn’t feel frustrated or angry. It was so confusing. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so stressed at home and so relaxed at work. I was creating a terrible conflict for myself and my family. I was living in contradiction. I was living in legalism, in a mentality that I oppose, and I didn’t even know it!

This took me on my journey from legalism to grace. Now I go home and I’m so happy to be there. I’m so happy to be a family man. My kids are happy and we play. My wife is happy and confident. I was so attracted to my wife because of her confidence and her bold outspokenness, but she had grown reserved and hadn’t been confident. I couldn’t figure out why, but the reason was me. I was putting new wine in old skins. Now I’m seeing my wife thrive! I’m seeing my children thrive!

Now, man, my life is not just saved by grace. It’s based in grace! And I’m so excited to get home!

See you Monday.

3 thoughts on “New Wine in Old Skins

  1. What a deep and important lesson to learn! We so often treat our families differently than others because it is “comfortable” and “safe”. However, these are the people we should most treat with grace and humility and love.

  2. How wonderfully humbling. What a blessing to read of a humbling man placing his all to the Lord and hearing truth from his wife… Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

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