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New Wine in New Wineskins

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 mired in legalism. I think churches are too. They want to be in control. Legalism might not actually result in control, but at least it can give the appearance of it. I think control is what lies behind the pervasiveness of legalism.

The crazy thing is, we hear them teach grace within legalism! Essentially this is saying, “Okay, if you stay within 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 that anger to pull you back in and control you. I will drop the law on you.”

This is pouring the new wine of grace into the old wineskins of legalism. It creates conflict. I’ve been exposed to it, and I’ll bet you have too.

There was a time when I learned to love on my teammates instead of judging them. I wanted them to see Jesus, so I would say, “They are only human, so of course they’re going to mess up. The important thing is to give them grace.” This was something I had to learn. The problem was, I didn’t learn the same lesson about my family. My wife had to wake me up to it. One day she said, “Jeremy, at work you give ballplayers grace, but at home, you give your family law. We’re your family, and you judge us!”

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

Then my wife helped me see it. I was living in contradiction. I was creating conflict for myself and my family by living in legalism at home. Legalism is a mentality that I oppose, and I didn’t even know that I was living in it!

It was such a blessing when my wife pointed it out. When she did, God took me on a journey from legalism to grace. Once I learned to give my family grace instead of law, I became so happy at home. I’m so happy to be a family man. My kids are happy and we play. My wife is happy and confident. I’m watching my family thrive!

Grace is the new wine. If you try to pour it into the old skins of legalism, your family or your church might be ruined. Put the new wine into new wineskins. Make it a skin of grace. Then see what happens. Your life will not only be saved by grace, it will be based in grace! It’s awesome!

See you Monday.

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