“Lower your expectations of earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.”
~ Max Lucado ~
I attended a seminar in 1975 titled “Give Your Expectations to God.” I learned that you can’t be frustrated with people when you don’t expect anything from them. We choose to be irritated and upset with others. Forgive those who fail you; have mercy on those who hurt you. Anger and grief take great amounts of energy. Turn the situation over to God and let Him deal with it. We aren’t perfect. We shouldn’t expect others to be perfect. I was pregnant with my second daughter at the time.
Yesterday morning my daughter (the one I was pregnant with in the 1975 seminar) and I were talking about a commentary she read that said Paul’s thorn in the flesh was possibly a false teacher. While no one can say for sure what it was, that certainly makes sense. Paul called his thorn the messenger of Satan.
This brings me to an incident that occurred this week. A pastor’s wife (who will remain nameless) writes a really good thought provoking blog. In one entry she wrote about legalism. She said legalism is not focusing on the laws (David focused on them)—it’s focusing on tacked-on laws. I gave a comment that said this:
Excellent post. The law is good. It was given to teach us how to serve, worship and please God and how to treat our fellow man. It was not to save, but to measure man’s sin and then lead us to Christ. It reveals the good, holy, just, and perfect nature of God. Paul said in Matthew 5:19 that whosoever does and teaches the Law will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Paul taught that the Law was the Word of God and it never opposed Scripture. Paul’s heated arguments that appear to be directed against the Law were actually against the misuse of the Law by legalists who were putting his Gentile congregations in bondage by teaching that the Law was for salvation.
It makes me angry to hear man’s misinterpretation of God’s law tacked on to Scripture and taught from the pulpit as God’s Word. How saddened God must be to see His children so mislead. We will never get rid of false doctrines in our world. We have to be salt and light amidst them by choosing a balance over the extremes of fleshly pursuit or religious legalism. The worst thing about legalism is it distorts God’s love. God gave us His Word for instruction and encouragement, not as a measuring stick by which He determines how much He will love us. He loved us while we were yet sinners.
The pastor’s wife had to remove the comment–Why? Because it was written by me. Someone in their church accused the pastor’s wife of being legalistic because she associated with me. My crime? Observing Passover; teaching the Hebraic culture of the Bible to understand the Bible better. Anyone that has read anything on my sites or in A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays knows I talk about “works never saving” over and over again on dozens of pages. But rumors fly and now I’m considered a danger for teaching Christ in the Passover. This certainly isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but it still hurts. Some of the emails I get are not kind–they have been downright nasty. My job is to recognize that the person is probably going through a personal battle and pray for them–not get angry and argue. This isn’t heaven–people are not perfect.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s power is best displayed against our human weakness (2 Corinthians 4:7) so that God alone is praised (2 Corinthians 10:17). God does not always remove problems, but He gives us grace and strength in them and through them.
The quote today is a reminder to me to be merciful to everyone. This is hardest when we are trying to serve God and get accused of something else, or when we go out of our way to help or serve someone and they don’t appreciate it. In Luke 6: 32-36 Jesus says to expect nothing from the people we help.
And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, a who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.