Mountain Climbers_1The quality of our expectations determines the quality of our action.  A. Godin

Expectations are a reality of life; and everyone wants to know what is expected of them.

As children, we grow up with a deep-seeded desire to know the expectations of our parents; and to meet them. Parents, in turn, desire to know what is expected of them for their children to grow up physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Employees want to know what is expected of them, to give structure to their daily work, and as a guide for future promotion and pay increase. To afford those pay increases, employers want to know what the client expects from the product or service they provide.

Granted, there are those who act as if they want nothing be expected of them. They are deceived in thinking this is possible. Expectations are a reality of life.

And everyone wants to know what is expected of them.

Society has a way of communicating expectations. Customers buy the products and services that meet their expectations. Employers establish standards and operating procedures for their employees. Good parents set the ground rules for their children; and – this is important – help their children understand and operate within the expectations of society.

Expectations are a reality of life; and they are good for us. Knowing them is critical.

It is, therefore, ironic that the human race has an ongoing battle with expectations. There is something about us that causes a discomfort with them. It’s like we want something else, but we don’t know what that something else is.

We need expectations, but we don’t want them – at least not the expectations that someone else would put on us. We prefer to find, or create, our own expectations.

We convince ourselves that what we want is something more; maybe something better. Attempting to put a positive spin on this condition, we use terms like “the human spirit” to describe our feigned desire for greater expectations.

This phrase – the human spirit – is not a bad description of our condition. In fact, it is the base condition of every human being. At its core is a desire to set our own expectations and have everyone else judge us by them.

The Bible calls it by another name: The spirit of rebellion.

Well now; at this point I feel the need to interject a warning and a request: This article is not headed where you are expecting. Please bear with me.

Okay. So, it is important to recognize that the nature in which we are born works against the very thing that empowers us to function normally in a good society. Even redeemed followers of Jesus Christ struggle with this matter of overwhelming expectations.

Take Romans 12 for example. Yes, go ahead and read Romans 12. As you can see, there are plenty of expectations to talk about here. God has set the bar quite high.

For the sake of brevity, let’s focus on verse 3.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

Love without hypocrisy means: Stop saying you love someone – as Jesus Christ loved (i.e., unconditionally and sacrificially – when you are not putting action to your words. Think about that for a minute. Who do you say you love?

Moving on, the word “abhor” means to detest utterly, and to have a horror of; with intention to separate from. The opposite of abhor is “adore”. Anything in between is compromise.

“What is evil” might be subjective to some. However, being honest with ourselves, we know what is evil in our lives. Yes, God has been exceedingly clear with His expectations in this area.

Lastly, another word for “cling” is cleave; like cleaving to your spouse. Both mean “to be firmly fastened together; to glue together”. Again, the vast majority of Jesus Christ’s followers know God’s expectations regarding “what is good”.

Yes, we really do. The difficulty is not our understanding of God’s expectations; it is our response to them. They are simply overwhelming.

Remember: Our God is a loving Father. His expectations (as overwhelming as they may seem) are good for us… if we respond to them correctly.

The Mind Plays Tricks on Us

We know our God is perfectly righteous and just; and we know that His expectations are simply too high for any human to fulfill. Our minds must do something to rationalize the conflict; and there the problem begins. Most of us have a mind that plays tricks on us when faced with such high expectations.

One of these tricks is “suspicion”. For example, your mind might suspect (and communicate to the rest of your person) that this article is suggesting some sort of legalism. Just the thought is distraction enough to divert you from considering the reality of God’s true expectations (and not mine).

Another trick our minds like to play on us is “feigned ignorance”. It sounds something like this: “That cannot mean what it says; it must be a mystery. I don’t know what it means, and God doesn’t expect me to. I will come back to it later.” Consequently, the expectation is never considered.

Another trick our minds like to play is “paradigm lock”. This occurs when our minds refuse to consider contrary or additional truth because it threatens our existing paradigm, or mind set. This trick, fueled by fear and pride, is particularly deceptive. One of the minds strongest assumptions is that it is always right.

The Bible clearly warns us that we should be suspicious of our minds. The fact that our minds must be renewed from conformity with the world proves there is something wrong with them. Why else would we be commanded to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?

Let’s face it: The human mind is a desperately wicked thing!!

The mind is simply ill-equipped to deal with the expectations of God. Therefore, the first thing we must do in responding to God’s expectations is to stop trying to rationalize them.

This is very difficult for those of us that have been raised in this age of reason and humanism. We have been carefully trained and encouraged to rationalize everything.

This second step – breaking away from the spirit of this age – is to humbly admit that our reason is earthly; and as far below God’s thoughts and ways as the earth is below the heavens.

The unrenewed mind cannot be trusted.

Fortunately, there is a better place from which to respond to the overwhelming expectations of God.

Responding from our Heart’s Desire

Our response to God’s seemingly unattainable expectations must begin from the same place that everything with Him begins: From our heart.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

Truly, it would do us good to often consider and confess the power of belief in appropriating the grace of God. By grace we are saved, through faith. Our faith appropriates the grace of God for the greatest of all miracles – our salvation.

It should not surprise us that it is also by grace, through faith, that we are empowered to fulfill every expectation of God.

Love without hypocrisy; abhor what is evil; cling to what is good: The grace to attain such incredible piety is appropriated by our faith that such grace exists for us.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Let me remind you: Faith is not worked up. It is itself, a grace of God. He has given us the ears to hear. He has the word that we need.

The most amazing thing of all: He has given us the life and faith of Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by [the] faith [of] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

It is the faith of the Son that appropriates the grace of the Father. That is the faith we live by; the exceedingly great power of the heart to respond to the expectations of God.

The correct response to the high expectations of God must begin in our heart. God has planted in its depths, the desire to meet His every expectation – to obey every command. He has given us the grace, in the life of His Son, dwelling within us, to accomplish all that He expects.


So, what’s the point here? How does this become more than another collection of truths that you have heard before? Could this be a word that produces newfound faith for your adventures with Jesus Christ?

Let me suggest a test and spiritual exercise. The following passage is one of my favorites in the whole Bible. It contains some declarative statements that are simply unbelievable to our rational minds.

Read this word of God through the desire of your heart to believe it. Begin by confessing that desire and thanking God for it. Ask Him to quiet your rational mind. Pause as you read, allowing the faith in your heart to rise up – to meet the expectations and promises of God.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself [be soft] also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:3-6

Please share your experiences in this exercise. They will encourage and edify others.

Humbly yours and forever His,