Expectations, part 2 (The best in myself and in others)

For part 1, click here.

The desire of the righteous ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath. – Prov. 11:23

Some of us are accused of having expectations too high. Others are content with low expectations or even none at all. And they have a point. After all, low expectations are a lot less work. if I have high expectations of myself or of other people, I’m just setting myself up for disappointment, right?

Maybe that’s why a lot of parents shrug their shoulders or look the other way when their kids act badly.  Maybe it’s why so many believers accept lifestyles that conflict with biblical instruction and Jesus’ example. Maybe it’s why people say things like, “That’s just the way she is” and “I can’t help it. I’m only human.”

I wonder what would have happened after Jesus ascended into heaven had He not had the highest of expectations for His disciples. Would they have turned the world upside down? If He had shrugged His shoulders and said, “After all, you’re only human” instead of “Be perfect” would they have responded to the persecution they faced with such grace and integrity? Probably not.

So did He really expect them to be perfect? Does He really expect me to be? And should I expect that of myself and others?

In answering these questions, it’s important to note what Jesus was and was not referring to when He said those words. He wasn’t talking about not making errors in a baseball game or getting a perfect score on the ACT. He wasn’t talking about never making a mistake on a report at work or leaving dinner in the oven too long. He was talking, as usual, about love. This is the expectation of us He reiterated over and over, even making sure we get the point by naming it as the two greatest commands – love God and love people (Mk. 12:30-31).

As believers, our expectations of ourselves and of other believers, then, should match God’s expectations of us – to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others like ourselves.

We have to have high expectations. If we don’t expect ourselves to love God and people, and allow ourselves to treat them rudely, gossip about them, or judge them as unworthy of our time, then we trivialize the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  If we don’t expect other believers to act and speak with love, we underestimate God’s power to change them.

Having high expectations doesn’t mean you’re delusional or have no grasp on reality. If someone spreads rumors about you, for instance, you should probably be cautious about trusting her in the future. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect, or at the very least hope, that next time she will behave differently.

It does mean that we don’t ever settle. Understanding that God does the work (Phil. 2:12-13), and we’re all fighting a battle until the day we die (Rom. 7:21-25), we don’t stop allowing God to transform us as we learn to love like He does. And we can expect that He will.

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