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Vol.  9  No. 10 October 2007  Page 17
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Robert JohnsonLiving Up to Expectations

By Robert Johnson

    Certainly it can be hard living up to what others may expect. Expectations can be unrealistic, as they may be based on what a person wants, and not what the other may have the ability to accomplish. There can be unforeseen situations arise that can complicate or prevent one from doing what one wants. Promises can be made that one had no intention of fulfilling. These, along with other variables, can keep expectations from becoming reality.

    Sometimes, however, the expectations are reasonable, possible and needed. The problem isn’t with the expectation as much as it is the one who should be fulfilling it. Such was the case with the church in Corinth, who had promised a gift for the needs of the poorer brethren in Jerusalem. While having the ability to fulfill it, and initially the desire to do it, a year had passed and nothing had been done by the Corinthian brethren to fulfill it. The expectation was realistic, but the completion was delayed. Paul exhorted them, “So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have” (2 Corinthians 8:11).

    Human expectations are one thing, but God’s expectations are another. While we are human and beset with the frailties and problems that come with the flesh, it’s something else to substitute our expectations in place of God’s. God expects those who desire to receive his grace and mercy in Christ to obey in faith to be cleansed of their sins through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 5:9). Humanity changes such expectations to fit its desires, where God is portrayed as saving through whatever means one wishes. God’s expectation is for his people to conform to his image (Ephesians 5:2), but too many change that to live as they want. God expects those who are called by his name to live for him (Galatians 2:20), but how many live for self?

    This is true, not of the world in general, but even of the Lord’s church. How many abandon God’s expectation of living for his glory to live for their own glory? “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). How many reject God’s expectation of using one’s abilities to serve him, only to serve themselves? “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). God expects us to be faithful in our worship of him, but there are always those who find somewhere else to be, something else to do. “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). How many change God’s expectations to their own expectations, and then feel justified in how they live? Not those who love God and seek to please him.

    For too long we have bought in to the world’s philosophy that God’s grace will cover any and every thing. While we desperately need God’s grace, and it is by his grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:5), grace is not a covering for sin (1 Peter 2:16). God expects us to do our part, to offer our best and not to substitute living for the flesh for living in his righteousness (Romans 6:19). Substituting our expectations for God’s leads to only one, certain expectation. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

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