Expectations are a funny thing. We all have them. Sometimes we can live with them; sometimes not. Sometimes the people we know can’t live with our expectations. Sometimes we can’t live with other people’s.
Expectations can be altruistic or selfish. Sometimes we can demand from others that they follow our expectations instead of the world’s. I prefer my moral codes/expectations, as they have been shaped through seeking God through the person of Jesus’ Christ through faith, hope and love. But I don’t expect others to follow me always because my experiences and knowledge are very limited. I rather they follow Jesus’ expectations.
Yes, God has expectations. God gives each of us many choices in the span of our lifetimes. God is not coercive. He doesn’t force of threaten people to get His way. The teachings, wisdom, truth, and example of His Son Jesus Christ show us what God expects from us. That doesn’t mean it is a easy path to follow. We can get confused about what God expects from us. And we can be convinced that God expects certain things from us when He doesn’t. Expectations can be very tricky.
The sisters: Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42), both had different expectations based on their relationships with Jesus. Martha thought Jesus had the same expectations as her concerning her sister Mary when she asked Jesus to get her sister to help with the food preparations. Mary delighted in Jesus’ presence and teaching seemingly ignoring the work that Martha felt ought to be tackled.
Throughout the ages this conflict between these two sisters has confused people thinking that it was a “works vs. learning” conflict, but that is misleading. Martha felt things weren’t fair and that is where we ought to look for direction.
Martha indulging in self-pity, complaining, and in anger asked for judgment and a “supposed” justice from Jesus trying to make her sister Mary help her. That was the worst part. Mary chose the better part. Mary chose joy and that in the presence of Jesus! Mary chose joy; Martha chose self-pity/complaining/judging/anger. That is why Jesus said Mary chose the better part. Everyone knows that good works are important, and also that learning is important. It wasn’t about “work vs. visiting/learning”; both are important. It was about should we have “self-pity/judging/anger” or “joy” bubbling out of our hearts that was at stake.
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to not judge or condemn people. One judges and condemns when one doesn’t look in the mirror and makes sober observations with the light given. Self-pity, complaining, judging, and anger all go together. When they are together, often they are an unhealthy mix, and in such cases, they spring from pride and a sense of unfairness. Mary chose the better part; Jesus said it would not be taken from her. Martha chose the worst part, but Jesus wanted to take it from her if she would allow it. He eventually did!
Look at God’s attitude. He doesn’t have a critical spirit towards his children. By critical spirit I mean one where He is constantly looking for flaws and mistakes to rub into our faces or to attack us with. We should have the attitude that says, “There go I but for the grace of God.” Also, if an unbeliever is not asking for our correction then likely we should not give it to him or her, unless of course, the person is in real danger of gravely hurting or harming someone else. But it needs to be done as gently as possible, without making a big scene out of it, non-judgmentally, and without preaching. If we aren’t invited to give correction, then Jesus said to not throw our pearls before swine lest they trample them and turn around and attack us (Matthew 7).
Yes, there is a place for preaching the Gospel, for pointing our right and wrong; righteousness and wickedness but the recipients need to be teachable and open to it otherwise conflict and persecutions might arise. Atmospheres where there is hostility or potential conflict ought to be diffused and engaged in with love, not with condescending preaching, hatred and self-righteousness judgments. When we take the way of love and are rejected and persecuted then God will use it for His glory and winning the hearts and minds of the lost.
If you want more of this kind of teaching and wisdom check out my books called: Exploring Faith Hope & Love and Exploring Humility and Pride.