Each of us has great expectations. When we marry, we have expectations; often greater than perhaps we should imagine. When we find that “perfect” job, we have great expectations to succeed, advance, make a wonderful salary, rise to a prominent position with a company and so on. When our children are born, we have great expectations. We want everything that is good for them, and rightfully so. We want them to be wonderful citizens, kind and loving, respectful. We want them to excel in their academics and go to the best colleges, marry the finest people, and do well in life – be happy. This is normal and part of our characteristics; to want the best.
Our Father also has great expectations. He has them for His children. He expects the best from us as Christians; to be obedient children, kind, loving, forgiving, patient, giving, and righteous. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us, “ For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees were part of the Jews or the Israelites. They were God’s people at this time, His children. They were not living up to the standard or expectation that God had for them as His children. Jesus told the multitudes this. He told them they would have to rise above the behavior demonstrated by them.
How do your children respond when you tell them that they must improve; that their behavior does not fall into line with your expectations as parents? Are they happy with this, or do they often balk, pout, get angry and mumble, “I can’t ever please my parents. They expect too much out of me!” I think we have all seen this display at some time or another. Often they will become rebellious and show out because they have disappointed you. This is very sad. But the same thing happens with God’s children – Christians. We read in the Bible or the preacher or teacher starts talking about improving our lives and becoming more Christ-like and we immediately puff up and respond with that attitude of rebellion. “How dare he! I am doing all that I can. He doesn’t know me. I am so busy now, that I meet myself coming and going!” We are indignant, hurt and humiliated at the thought that we may not be “living up to the standard.” Friends, man does not set the standard; God does. And even when we have done all that we are commanded to do, we are still unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10). Before you become disillusioned, remember this, God’s grace and mercy are there for a reason. All of us will sin and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23). That does not relieve us of striving to be better. Praying without ceasing (in the most literal sense) is an impossibility. But we understand the concept. Our minds are to be in that prayerful state at all times. The same is true for our lives. We must do all that we are able to do and then if we see another opportunity, muster up the strength to do just a little more. We see this attitude in professional athletes. They rise to the occasion when they are losing, and try a bit harder. Our profession/vocation is Christianity (we did profess that when we were baptized into Christ!) (Ephesians 4:1). That is our LIFE. So yes, we have expectations placed upon us by our Lord. Will we rebel and cry, “It’s too hard for me – Father, you expect too much!” or will we wait upon the Lord and allow Him to renew our strength daily as we serve Him with great zeal? (Isaiah 40:30)? Without any expectations we would all wind up doing nothing! Our Lord’s expectations are not grievous (1 John 5:3), but are for our betterment as well as the betterment of others, and His Kingdom. Let us all try to live up to our Father’s expectations and set expectations for our families that are in accordance to His will.
Nancy is the wife of Bill Goring, who serves as a gospel preacher and elder for the Chipman Road church of Christ in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has 4 children, 11 grandchildren and has taught Bible class for over 40 years, speaks at Ladies Day gatherings and has published several books including: Behavior Becoming Holiness: Studies in Titus Chapter 2 and Overcoming our Self-Imposed Prisons.