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“Whine” – complaining in an annoying way about something unimportant.

~ Collins Dictionary

The topic of old and new wineskins emerged again in recent conversations among friends. This got me considering once again what new wineskins mean for our lives.

Here’s the scripture verse where it’s featured in the Gospels.

“Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

In those days, animal skins were often used to carry liquids. In the process of fermentation, liquids like wine expand. Therefore, if the container holding the wine is old and has been stretched out by previous liquids stored in it, this now rigid skin will crack and tear.

In Ecclesiastes, we know that timing is highly critical to the success of our endeavours. We need to know when to change the animal skin container when it has been stretched. Similarly, we need to understand that sometimes, the tools and approaches we use to navigate our environment and our approach to relating to people need to change.

My wife and I recently had an opportunity to experience conflict with an older couple. We each had differences in our approaches to leading a church group. I suppose we do hear many stories of disagreements among Christians. Nevertheless, we thought deeply about it and invited them to a zoom call to resolve what happened. Our desire was not to leave skeletons in the closet and to work on the relationship.

During the call, my wife shared that we bore no grudges and were happy to move on despite our differences. Appearing uncomfortable explaining her views, the wife of the couple expressed that she was not used to confronting conflict. Nonetheless, we worked it through and landed the conversation at what we felt was a good end.

Unfortunately, in the days after, our relationship was no longer the same. Their body language and absence of warmth since were saddening as we genuinely cared for and respected them as an older couple. We accepted that, perhaps, it takes time for people to move on from differences. Subsequently, we heard chatter from those who came to know, and it became clear that we might not have this relationship back for a long time—if at all.

In scripture, Jesus addressed John the Baptist’s disciples about fasting and timing. He stated that one does not fast at a wedding. However, when the bridegroom is taken from them, then they do fast. John led a very different life from Jesus, although he paved the way for the Messiah. He denied himself fine food, preferring organic farm-to-table stuff. He did not take alcohol and did not have fancy clothes.

Jesus had to explain to the disciples of John the Baptist that He was the Messiah and that he heralded a new season. It was not a time to whine but a time to celebrate. Similarly, as I thought about this incident, I thought about how important it is for my wife and me to continually be open to learning and discerning the time and seasons and be ready to adapt our approaches and energy to its changes.

May this post inspire and remind us to continually draw close to our Heavenly Father and maintain a humble and teachable heart.