I remember hearing many years ago that “to be satisfied with yourself is a sure sign that your forward progress is about to stop.” We all need a sense of holy dissatisfaction about our current status, our influence for Christ, and our potential in serving His mission.
In Luke 5:37-39, Jesus addresses the Pharisees who questioned why Jesus did not conform to the man-made religious standards of the day. He responded, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.'” I like the translation of the New American Standard here: “The old is good enough ” (v. 39).
Stuck in “Good Enough”
It is so easy to get stuck in the “good enough” rut. When we simply go along with the way things have always been, accepting what others have always said, and doing what we have always done, we’ve likely lost our true forward progress. It is time to take a fresh look at the radical life of Jesus, the extreme needs of the world around us, and the potential of the Spirit within us and pray for a deliverance from the “good enough” mentality.
The work of the Gospel is the new wine Jesus speaks of. The word of the Gospel is living, active, dynamic, and relevant to every generation. Yet, the old wineskins of mindless routines and long-standing traditions can inhibit and waste the work of the new wine.
Why We Settle for “Good Enough”
We all tend to be creatures of habit. We can also be plagued by fear, laziness, and selfishness to the degree that we are not open to the new adventure of His calling on our lives, whether it is the daily call to live fully for Him or a new chapter that He is opening before us. It is easy to cling to the familiar, comfortable, and functional rather than surrender to the Spirit’s prompting to embrace the biblical, the effective, and the best choices of an adventuring and influential faith.
Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, who had settled into a “good enough” mentality, no longer driven by the fire of a clear calling and the sufficiency of the spiritual gifts God had placed in him. Paul told his son in the faith, “Stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Literally, Paul commands Timothy to “fan into flame” the smoldering coals of his spiritual passion and to reject the fear that was keeping him in the gray twilight of “good enough.” Like Timothy, we must affirm the power of God that is able to energize us for unprecedented, supernatural impact. We must surrender to His love that compels us to get past ourselves and give our lives away to others in sustained, sacrificial service. We must submit to the sound mind (or discipline) of the Holy Spirit to keep us clear-headed and resolute to finish our race with perseverance and passion.
Moving Beyond “Good Enough”
When I see the things Jesus did to prepare His very inadequate disciples to become the catalysts for world transformation, I think of five words: Look, Pray, Receive, Go, and Finish. These ideas can move us beyond a “good enough” lifestyle.
- Look – The disciples, like so many of us, tended to go through the routines of their day without seeing the kingdom opportunities available to them. For example, in John 4 they were busy taking care of lunch and fixating on superficial issues while Jesus reached into the heart of a Samaritan woman at a well, then called her entire village to encounter His truth. In this moment He turned to His disciples with the challenge, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35-36). When we fail to see the needs around us with spiritual eyes and kingdom vision, we are happy with a “good enough” lifestyle.
- Pray – In Matthew 9:36-38 Jesus saw the crowds like sheep without a shepherd – scattered and weary. From His heart of compassion, He challenged His disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into the harvest. This is similar to the 10 days His followers spent in an upper room before the Day of Pentecost, praying prior to the great spiritual harvest. Prayer is a key to preparing our hearts and aligning our wills to His in order to step through the open doors of opportunity.
- Receive – Before Jesus sent His disciples out on short-term assignments, or to launch the church in Acts 2, He gave them His power to move out of their comfort zones into the battle zones of high-impact ministry. Today, He calls us to abide in Him (John 15:4-8) to receive the sufficiency of His life in us so that He may accomplish His work through us.
- Go – When “good enough” no longer attracts our hearts, we must then go into uncharted territory to share the Good News of His life and message. Back in Matthew 9 & 10 we see Jesus sending the disciples out, after they prayed and received His provision. His final commission compels us to keep going into all the world (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20), which is a calling we must obey every day, right where we are.
- Finish – Jesus calls us to the “uttermost parts of the earth,” signifying the magnitude and scope of our calling. As long as you are breathing, your mission is not complete. “Good enough” isn’t. As Paul said, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
New Day, New Wine, New Wineskins
Every day of our lives, we must reject the “good enough” attitude. With each new day, we enjoy the new wine of His presence and purpose. We must willingly adopt new wineskins to deliver the Good News to the world around us. As we look, pray, receive, go, and finish we will live a life to His glory and someday receive the reward He has prepared for those who keep pressing on as long as they have breath.