It’s a new year!!! New goals, new opportunities, new new new… We’ve all been here before. The beginning of the year always manages to bring with it an air of hope (even in the midst of a pandemic). There is a fresh burst of energy to plan and set goals and write visions, hopefully after considerate prayer and reflection. However, after some weeks or months, it always seems to fade into the return of our same old habits and routines. Why? Well in the midst of setting my eyes on the new, God reminded me of a truth through Matthew 9:14-17.
OLD AND NEW CANNOT COEXIST.
When Jesus was asked about why his disciples do not fast as often as John’s disciples and the Pharisees, he responds with three illustrations about the new vs. the old. Though Jesus was speaking about the principle of sacrifice in the new and old testament, this teaching can give us three important principles to keep in mind as we set our eyes on our goals and visions for the new year .
1. IS IT NECESSARY?
"And Jesus said to them, Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."
In this era, one of the purposes of fasting was as a form of mourning one who was absent. John’s disciples were fasting to mourn his imprisonment. However, Jesus was not absent from his disciples and so, he was saying that they have no need to fast for this purpose. However, a time would come where he would be absent (foreshadowing of his death and resurrection) and his disciples would fast. Based on the time, what was necessary for them to do differed. From this response, we see the first principle. We are each in different times and seasons of our lives therefore, what is necessary for someone else in this year may not be necessary for you. This is why seeking God’s guidance is SO IMPORTANT when setting goals. You must be sure that is has been approved by him for this season of your life.
Many times we set goals not out of God ordained necessity, but out of a need to compete with others and validate ourselves by accomplishments. What God is requiring from you in 2022 will be different from what he is requiring of others. Comparison is a distraction from appreciating and maximizing where you are and what God has called you to do.
2. IS IT A COVER UP?
"No one puts a piece of unshrunk [new] cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse."
Here we see Jesus’ second analogy about the old and the new. He shares that a new piece of cloth is small and will not be able to cover over the large tear in an old garment. Rather, it would pull and make the tear larger. A lot of times we can be like this old garment. We may be in a space where we have a lot of wear and tear on our hearts. However, instead of handing it over for God to heal, we distract ourselves with new work, new relationships, new purchases etc.
As Jesus teaches though, new things simply are not capable of hiding or healing old scars. No matter what you accomplish in 2022, if you have not allowed God to heal the wounds of years past, they will remain and simply get bigger and bigger.
3. ARE YOU CAPABLE OF CARRYING IT OUT?
"Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
In this time, it was common to store wine in pouches known as wineskins. However, as wineskins grew old, they would become hard, rigid, and inelastic. This would be a problem because new wine would ferment and expand. So given that the old wineskin was inflexible, it would burst under the pressure of expansion, thereby spilling the wine. This analogy presents to us the third and possible most important of these three principles.
When setting our goals, we need to assess where we are as believers with honesty. Are you capable to facilitate the “new wine” that you have been praying and planning for? Are you ensuring that you are a vessel worthy of what God has called you to? Many times we want new, but we choose to remain stuck in our old habits and mindsets and become rigid and inflexible like an old wineskin. As a result, we cannot facilitate the new thing that God is trying to do in and through us, and so we forfeit it. A new thing will always stretch us. It will always require expansion and growth, which means surrendering to the comfort of the old. If you truly want to see new changes in 2022, you need to ensure that your vessel (body, mind, soul and spirit) is surrendered to God and aligned with that which you wish to manifest.
In essence, we must realize that when we try to step into new and simultaneously hold on to the old, it does more harm than good. So as we set new goals this year, I pray that we will keep these three principles in mind so that we can be achieve them.
Don’t set goals that are not necessary for the season you are in. Surrender to God’s guidance.
Don’t set goals to distract you or hide scars of old. Surrender to God’s healing.
Don’t set goals that you are not capable of facilitating. Surrender to God’s refining.