Thursday, September 27, 2007


Expectations - anticipated or assumed action or outcome. The belief that certain things should go a certain way. Expectations can be beneficial; they can be the standards we set for ourselves and strive to live up to. Expectations can also be harmful when applied to others in an unrealistic way. We expect certain people to behave a certain way, and when they don't we become disappointed in them. This is inevitable in life, for no one can live up to our expectations always. But what do we do when others fail to live up to our expectations for them? Some turn away - break the relationship; but is this the real solution? What about when we fail to live up to God's expectations (and you better believe He has them. To think God does not have expectations for His followers is to believe in an impersonal, nebulous god; a non-entity)? Does God turn away from us when we fail to live up to His expectations? The answer will bother some people - but the answer is yes.
In the Old Testament, when the people of God failed to live up to the covenant relationship with God, He withdrew His power and protection and the people suffered the consequences of oppression, tribulation and even destruction.
In the New Testament, Jesus made His expectations clear to those who would follow Him, and when they weren't willing to accept them or live up to them, He moved on. He didn't lower His expectations in order to appease the people (rich young ruler, Pharisees, people of Nazareth, man who wanted to bury his father [Jesus said, "let the dead bury the dead", ouch!], even the cripple at the pool [Jesus said, "Do you want to be well? Then get up and walk!"]. Jesus never changed the expectations so people would like Him or follow Him.
But with God in the Old Testament and God in the Flesh, Jesus, in New Testament when the people failed to live up to His expectations, all that was needed to restore the relationship was repentance: "I'm sorry Lord; I blew it. I let You down and I'm sorry. I'm ready to get back on track with You." And His response was/is always, "You're already forgiven. Let it go, don't look back. Let's move forward." (Thank you, Lord, for the cross and You're amazing grace!)
Don't you wish it was like that in our relationships with others? Too often others want us to jump through their hoops before they are willing to forgive (a sign they don't understand grace or true forgiveness). And others, well... it doesn't matter what you do, they'll never let it go. Their catalogue of offenses that they keep track of is just too big for them to let go of. And as more people fail to live up to their expectations the catalogue gets bigger and harder to carry - (unforgiveness is a great burden!)
Life's too short not to live by grace. It's OK to have expectations for yourself and for others, but they should be tempered by grace - the grace that God has given us.