Patch it or Replace it?

by Scarlett Stough


Did you ever hang on to an article of clothing way past its best days? I had a long beige wool coat I really liked. It was warm on the coldest of winter days. As the years wore on, it lost buttons and the lining would tear at the least stress. I would stitch it up and it would go one more winter. The fabric lost its luster and was looking shabby. I began to realize that the fabric would not hold the new stitches much longer than it took to put the coat on and off. It was time to replace it.

Jesus made a comparison to a garment needing a patch:

No one sews a patch of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:16-17).

The religious leaders of his day had a habit of asking Jesus some picky questions, trying to trap him or embarrass him. This time they wanted to know why his disciples didn’t fast according to their customs. Jesus did not engage them in a long argument about fasting. He got down to the heart of the matter. His teachings could not be bound in their rigid traditions of men. He did not come to patch their old way of life; he came to replace it.

Jesus did not come to patch our old ways of living; he came to make us into new creations living new lives. The old self must be destroyed so the new self can take its place.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

The rest of this chapter, and in fact the entire letter to the Ephesians, describes the old shabby life and what the replacement life should look like. The old self relied on lies; the new self speaks the truth. The old self gave in to anger and rages in response to aggravating people and circumstances; the new self doesn’t allow those feelings to linger and fester. The old self stole or took advantage of other people; the new self generously works to help those who have need. The old self used language for its own gain; the new self uses language to encourage and benefit others.

Instead of quarreling and fighting, be kind and compassionate to others remembering to forgive as Christ forgives.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).

The letter goes on to describe what love is and what love is not in our relationships with other people.

Jesus replaced the old with the new as foretold by Jeremiah (31:31-34): “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:20)” .

God is making everything new through Christ beginning with those who believe in his Son now, but he does not do everything for us. Eternal life is his gift. When we accept it, we agree to live a new life, replacing the old life we had been living with a life lived for God, lived his way. Don’t try to settle for a patch. Replace that old garment with his righteousness (Revelation 19:6-8; 21:5).

Volume 9 Issue 2 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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