What are expectations? Something you are anticipating; something you presume will be; something you can count on. We expect obedience from our children. We expect a promise to be kept. We expect springtime and harvest, summer and winter. All are legitimate expectations, and there are many more. However, “I really expected better of that individual,” is not a legitimate expectation. God’s Word tells us to “…study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,” I Thess. 3:11. With that verse in mind, there is very little room for us to “expect” anything from our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
We seem to expect others to react or deal with situations as we would. We are quick to judge, because we see it from our perspective and actually have no idea what other circumstances might play into someone else’s decision. “Therefore judge nothing before the time…” (I Cor. 4:5). We would do well to remember Who sees our hearts. “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:10).
Being completely honest here is not easy for me, but when the Lord shows me something in my life that He is very displeased with, I have to deal with the sin. Zechariah 8:17 says “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour;” I would be the first to say “Well I would never do that!” However, in further study of those few words, I could read it this way. I am not to weave, fabricate, plot or contrive harm, mischief or wickedness against my neighbor. Still, someone might say, “But Mrs. Weaver, you would never do that!” Yet, anytime I view a situation from my vantage point, and I start to “pick apart” a decision someone else made, I am doing just that! If I share my views with another person, I am certainly bringing harm to them and I am doing wickedness. That is the way God sees it. My own pride is the culprit here. Do I think myself better or more spiritual? It would seem I have an elevated opinion of myself, and that is a gross error. “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” Rom. 12:3.
If I am constantly questioning other people’s motives and actions, it does not speak well for my walk or fellowship with the Lord. We are called to “…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). I really have no idea how the Lord is leading another of His children, and certainly it is not my concern. I am responsible to follow the Lord’s will for MY life, and to show the fruits of the Spirit, as we are instructed in Galatians 5. Who is to say that I would not make the same choice or decision, were I in their place? Ecclesiastes 9:1 puts it very well: “For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God:”
God’s commands are so very clear. I must make every effort to apply them to my life, daily. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you,” Eph. 4:29,32.
I also run the risk of allowing a brother or sister’s problems to become my own. When I should be reading and meditating and seeking the Lord for what He has for ME, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Oh this would be so good for so and so; why can’t they see this?” The same thing can happen while listening to the preaching. Our minds are roaming all over the auditorium to see if “so and so” is listening and wondering if they are “getting it!” At least for me, when this occurs, I’m not really “getting it.” This whole scenario eventually only causes me to be discouraged and take my eyes off the Lord.
Please understand that I am not saying we should never consider each other’s needs or burdens. We are commanded to “bear one another’s burdens.” But it seems there is a fine line between real concern that we take to the Lord in prayer, versus concluding in our hearts that someone is doing poorly in dealing with an issue. We might “expect” more from them, because of where they appear to be spiritually strong or mature. Excuse me, but how do I know where anyone else is in his/her spiritual life?
Ladies, a very sensitive area is in the realm of “expecting” a certain response with our own families, and especially our husbands. We often have very high expectations for those we love—and maybe with good intentions—but at the same time, we have to be careful that we don’t step out of the boundaries that God has placed within the home. Looking into the “mirror” of God’s Word is the best thing we can do. Quite frankly, I don’t always like what I see! Still, I am thankful for what the Lord shows me. Sometimes, we may have a difficult time admitting to ourselves what He shows us, but over and over, such a “rebuke” has assured me that I am His child, and that He cares for me!
Listen to the instructive words of Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
If you are walking with the Lord and seeking to follow Him, moment by moment, then you will know what He wants of YOU, what you can change, what you cannot change, and how to know the difference. “…they that seek the LORD understand all things.” Prov. 28:5b