Expectations. We all have them. We expect ourselves to make perfect grades. We expect others to treat us right. We expect God to act on our behalf. Our professors expect things of us. Our churches expect us to serve. We expect ourselves to serve. Our culture expects us to look a certain way. On and on the list goes. Now don’t get me wrong, expectations are not a bad thing. We should have them.
But what happens when these expectations don’t turn out the way we want them to? Are our expectations realistic? Or are we demanding things of ourselves and others that Christ doesn’t expect?
In Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NIV), Moses asks the Israelites,
“What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
Even though this was directed at Israel, I don’t believe the command has changed. Jesus even confirms this in the New Testament. He sums up the law as, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NIV) Yes, we are required to serve, but first we are required to love God with all that we are. When we do this well, then we will love others well. When we give our time to expectations¾to things or people that God hasn’t asked us to commit to, we get tired, burnt out, and frustrated. We are left without energy to do the tasks He has called us to do. Jesus tells us, “. . . My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30, NIV). His tasks are not burdensome. We may get tired, but He is our strength.
In Luke 10:38-42 (NIV), we read about Martha and Mary. The Scripture says, “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made . . .” Did these really have to be made? Was Jesus really concerned about the meal they would have? I don’t think so. In fact, He was God, so He could have created an extravagant meal out of nothing. I think Martha put expectations on herself that Jesus never put on her. When she complains about her sister, Jesus responds, “Mary has chosen what is better . . .”
Our sinful tendency is to try and do everything. At least I do! Saying no is so hard for me. But, we must learn to step back, ask the Lord if this is something He wants us to do, and then be willing to say no, if He asks us too. We can be sure when we say no to something “good” that He will give us all the strength we need to do what is “better.”
Ladies, what expectations have you put on yourselves that Jesus hasn’t required of you?
Oh, Abba, transform and renew our minds so that we may learn your will for our lives. Your will is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NIV) God, there is no one who needs to heed this message more than me!! Give us the strength to say no to things that are not your best!