Has someone ever placed an expectation on you, assuming that you would be a certain way or do a certain thing? “Oh, you’re so-and-so’s brother/sister, etc. You must be really good at __________.” Or how about this one: “Oh, you make that much! Life must be pretty easy for you.” Or even, “I really would have thought you would have been more __________ than that.” Maybe some of these struck home to you or maybe you can think of other expectations that have been placed on you because of who you are, where you are from, what family you grew up in, what job you have, car you drive, house you live in, or clothes you wear. The list goes on and on, but many of us can think of numerous times where we have been the victim of someone else’s unrealistic expectation of us.
Now, have you ever placed an expectation on someone else? If so, what was it for or about? Was it a fair expectation? We are pretty good about making expectations about quite a bit of things in our lives whether it be about the food we eat, the movies we watch, the places we visit, or even the people closest to us. Usually, our expectations of grandeur fall short of their desired effect because many times our expectations of something or someone may be unfair, unreasonable, unrealistic, and can be downright self-seeking.
We can also see situations in our lives where we are completely blown away by expectations we have that are far too low. Usually, we hear people say, “Wow! I did not expect that!”
In our world of expectations it can seem just as easy to place expectations on God. And in many cases, God doesn’t always match up or measure up to what we think or expect He should be or do for us. But in many cases, God turns our expectations of Him on their head and this is for our benefit. God blows the roof right off of our expectations at times because they are only seeking to serve ourselves or our own agendas or they are far too short of His glorious perspective and plan. We see this over and over again in Scripture. God comes through in ways that were not expected. He shows up in unexpected ways and places, providing in ways we couldn't have imagined. Maybe you can think of times like this in your own life. We can be thankful that God continues to blow away our wildest expectations of Him and shows us His glory, power, and love that is for each of us.
I have always appreciated when someone has the capacity to deliver a concise comment that is dead on and just what is needed in a given situation. Some people have the ability to see things very clearly and always know what to say. I have wanted to be the guy that people quote because of my humorous brilliance showing up exactly at the moment it is needed. I thought it would be nice to have people knowingly nod when my name is spoken because I am a very wise fellow indeed. As I read the previous sentence I need to own the ego problem in it but I can also say I was truly hoping to help people in their time of “wisdom need.”
I want to be like Abraham Lincoln or at least Andy Griffith as I impact my world today. I want to impart words that bring freedom and clarity but at the same time challenge and stretch people. The good news is that God will give me the words that I need to say and He will guide me when to say them. Will I be in tune with God is the real question? If I am willing to offer up to God my sinful tendency for ego gratification I can rest assured in quoting His perfect wisdom. It might seem simplistic but the eternally true wisdom of the ages is available to us each day in the book of Proverbs.
A side note here is that quoting Proverbs to unbelievers in the right way and at the right time may be an opening for them to appreciate the Bible. Don’t be overly surprised to hear your friend say something like, “Cool quote” or “That is really insightful – where did you get that?”
For those of us that do believe God’s Word to be true and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, Proverbs comes to us as a revelation of how to live and operate with wisdom in this often foolish world. We learn about things such as integrity, justice, relationships, staying pure, conflict resolution and the list goes on. Proverbs provides wisdom for God’s people to live out God’s Kingdom in the practical affairs of life. There are many “smart” and “loving” people all around us that are giving their perspective and it might seem practical, helpful and even compassionate but if it contradicts God’s ways it will ultimately be destructive. We need help and God gives it to us in His Word!
Who doesn't need some insight or encouragement to do the right thing from time to time? God knows we all do and that is why He gave us Proverbs. I encourage you to spend some time soaking up God’s wisdom revealed in Proverbs this week.
In Grace and Truth,
There are times when Christians are accused of being a bunch of downers. I have no doubt that there are plenty of times throughout the Church’s history where that was an accurate assessment. But there is another side to it that is often missed by those who don’t understand how it all fits together to bring infinite hope and joy. The passage for this Sunday brings this truth to light. Psalm 51 begins with the following statement.
“Have mercy on me, O God…”
Some people will read that prayer and say, “That is exactly what I’m talking about, what a negative way to start the day and view life!” But I read that opening statement as a foundational need and reality for my life. This brief statement sets my heart in the right place for relating to God and people. In this simple sentence I declare God’s holiness, His relational intimacy to me, His desire to meet my needs and it also removes any reason for me to think I am better than anyone else.
I want to help people understand that I am not being negative when I say “I am a sinful person” or “the world is broken or dark.” All I am doing is being honest and truthful. If I do this rightly and with a winsome countenance I might be able to help someone to see that I am the one that possesses hope and joy that transcends the “downside” of truth. It isn’t with arrogance I claim to possess this “good stuff”; it is with a thankful heart that overflows.
The conclusion to the opening sentence in Psalm 51 is why this is not negative at all. It brings me to a place of confidence and freedom.
“according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”
The love, compassion and forgiveness of God are clearly displayed in Jesus. He is my savior and my friend. I make that bold statement not on my own merit or worthiness. I declare it with assurance because Jesus has claimed me as His friend. He did this because I needed Him to come to me. So, instead of it being a negative to talk about things such as sin, brokenness, fear or my inadequacies, it is actually just the beginning of the sentence that ends with grace, peace, hope and joy.
But to get to all the good stuff we need to own the fact that it comes to us as a gift from God. When I understand my need for mercy I will begin to love God and people the right way. It is like unlocking the mystery of life, for all of eternity but also for the here and now.
Have mercy on me, O God,
Pastor Nick Mundis