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Expectations and Legalism?

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“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.


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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.

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About Robin Sampson

17 comments

  1. I know the crushing feeling of giving all you have to God, opening yourself up and being criticized by “brothers and sisters.” Remembering we are on earth can help. Thanks for a good application.

  2. Dear Robin,

    I loved your post. Especially these parts:God’s power is best displayed against our of 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.
    Thanks for the visit.

    So true. May the Lord bless you this week and always.

    In his endless love,

    Angel (Angel Mama Pearls of Wisdom)

  3. I relate to this part of your post: “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.” Been there, done that, have all sorts of things (not just t-shirts) to show for it! 🙂 I constantly work on this . . . seems to be a lesson I have to learn over and over.

    Great post and hang in there! 🙂

    MY COMMENT

    Its a lesson I learn over and over too. We all default to sin. Thanks for the comment.

    Blessings,
    Robin

  4. Great Post….. you have such a heart for God. Bless you.

  5. Robin,

    I am sorry you were hurt by another Christian. I have been in a similar situation after I wrote an entry that some found controversial.

    Your ministry has been a blessing to me. My husband and I had what I refer to as a representative Passover this year. (I call it representative because I am quite sure it wasn’t kosher. I couldn’t even find a lamb bone and used a stuffed lamb instead. And, my daughter rearranged the order of the Haggadah. She didn’t like that the four questions were asked all at once and then not answered for a long time.)

    My daughter really enjoyed helping me plan this special night… she also learned a lot of Scriptural concepts. My daughter’s brain is damaged because of intrauterine exposure to alcohol. Even as she nears adulthood, my daughter can’t think in abstracts. The physical pictures of Passover taught her spiritual truths about Jesus.

    In fact, I liked your book about Biblical Holidays so much that I even gave away a brand new copy in a contest to honor the one-year anniversary of my blog.

    In Christ’s love ~ Julie

    MY COMMENT

    Julie, What a sweetie you are. Thanks for the kind words. I love your blog and had read the story of your marriage. What a blessing my book helped you daughter. Thank you for sharing it with me. I’m adding you to the blog roll and my blog bridge.

    I didn’t know about the give-away. How did I miss that. 🙂

    Blessings,
    Robin

  6. WOW! Your first paragraph was God speaking directly to me. Let me tell you, I have been hearing Him all morning through everyone’s thoughts on this quote over a situation I am dealing with! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I enjoyed reading your post, and I loved hearing your point of view on Paul’s thorn. YOu are right we never do know. I always guess it was physical because Luke went with Paul everywhere Paul went. But I could be wrong, we don’t know.

    I think we gain a lot of knowledge and insight when studying Hebrew culture and the Passover as well.

    Have a great day.

  8. Your first paragraph hit me right away after a difficult few days, and anger and judgments creeped in, taking joy away. Thank you for sharing and the reminders. 🙂

    Blessings ~ Loni

  9. Rosemarie

    Bless you big time! Finding solace while there are those against you can be challenging, but be encouraged that there are many who have been where you are, and are thriving in God’s goodness. God is able to bring about peace in the midst of any storm while He builds upon our existing character and integrity.

    Read In God’s Perfect Will below. It may be of comfort.
    http://avoicetobeheard.blogspot.com/2007/04/in-gods-perfect-will.html

    Blessings…
    Heavenly Voice

  10. AmberDawn McCall

    Dear Robin:
    I am so sorry to hear of that wound. I understand. I just wanted to encourage you that the gift you are to me, and others like me, I am sure, is worth it. Truly wise “Titus 2” older (than me) women like yourself are rare, and your worth is far above rubies. God has brought you and your teachings into my life at exactly the right time, and you have been a priceless blessing to my family.
    When you stand out and make a difference, you will face opposition, but if the salt lost its saltiness, what good would it be? Thanks for making my life just taste better.
    AD

  11. Robin,

    I am so sorry that happened to you. Be encouraged. You are a mighty woman of God and a blessing to so many of us. Thank you!

  12. Robin, I am so sorry that your comment was deleted, because I think it was a wonderful comment. We cannot please everyone around us, and sometimes we are even criticized by our own. We need to take comfort though that He sees all and hears all.
    I know that some of the churches in my own denomination celebrates parts of Passover during the Holy season…So, I am not sure where the resentment comes from.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this week’s IOW quote.

    Be blessed today and always.

  13. Dear Robin, Thank you for sharing your struggles and being a great example to me. In the past few months, I think I’m actually starting to GET IT that my flesh can’t do anything good enough and that is such a relief. Now I just need to figure out how to abide in the Spirit and hear His voice. You’re writing has been such a gift to me. I’ll never forget the dream I had when I first came across HOW. It just confirmed my belief that HOW is for me and my kids. Last night I had an experience where someone close to me literally verbally blasted my faith and swore and said vile, ugly words about God and me. I was yelled at at swore at for about and hour. All the while I was praying and able to keep my cool, thanks to God and some counseling. Finally I blurted out “In the name of Jesus Christ, I order all angry spirits out” I repeated that and the person just spewed forth more profanities and blasphemies. But the neat part was how the Word of God came to mind Matt 5:11-12. Sincerely, Lisa

  14. Robin, I completely relate to this experience. It really HURTS to be rejected by another Sister in the Lord. It hurts when others misunderstand you and make false assumptions with no effort to bring about peace. I am deeply saddened by the divisions within Christendom today. I suspect the Lord is even less pleased. I look forward to the Kingdom when he brings about real healing and true peace and we are one body worshipping together in mutual love and respect.

  15. I’m glad I read this as it has been encouraging to me. Sometimes it helps just to remember that the trials we go through aren’t strange but common and there are others who have been, and are, there. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Cindy L

    Robin,

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