Great Expectations

 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” Matthew 11:18-19

 

Last week we peeked briefly into the life of a Pastor’s wife. As stated then, it is difficult for each of us to balance life, hold it all together and meet other’s expectations simultaneously. Perhaps at this very moment you feel like you are performing a juggling act, only there is just one ball in the air because you dropped the other ninety-nine you were trying to juggle. Did you know that you are not alone and others around you are experiencing the same difficulty, including your Pastor’s wife?

 

Growing up my mom spent a lot of time doing the cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, shopping, etcetera. She spent very little time teaching her children to do the same tasks which left us a little inept as young adults. So, as a new bride I was lacking in many areas, especially cooking. Often, my new husband would remark to me, “Grandma Florence didn’t cook it that way, she did it this way.” or he would say, “Grandma Florence was such a good cook and she could get a delicious meal together in thirty minutes after working a long hard day as the head matron at the Brown County Jail.”  Now to my husband’s credit, he was not trying to be mean, spiteful or even compare me to his grandmother, but he was reflecting on the good meals he used to have and was not getting currently. Also, to his credit, I had plenty of time to learn (in which he often encouraged me to do) from my mother before moving away from home. In my mind, I thought I could cook. After all, isn’t a plate of cookies and a few biscuits a full course and healthy meal! To be honest, that really was the extent of my abilities and to those who are wondering, I have seriously improved.

Although my husband was not trying to hurt me, I could not help but feel inadequate. It was hard to measure up to these expectations because I felt that I was so far behind in ability. Due to these feelings of inadequacy, I was frustrated. Sometimes, I would try to meet these expectations and other times, I would just give up. Can you think back to a moment in your life when someone compared you to another? Have you ever felt inadequate? Have you ever felt rejected? Have you ever felt that no matter what you did, it just wasn’t good enough? Did you know that there are times when your Pastor, Pastor’s wife and family feel this way?

If you look at our topic verse, you will find that even Jesus and John the Baptist were rejected and just couldn’t live up to the great expectations placed upon them. They were rejected by the religious crowd – the church goers. John the Baptist was accused of having a devil because he didn’t spend time eating and drinking with them, but then Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard because He did spend time supping with them. It seems that no matter what they did, they could not please anyone. Have you ever felt this way, can you identify with them? Now let’s take a moment to think, how many of us are guilty of also being the accuser – the one hard to please. In the book, The Spiritual Leader, Pastor Paul Chappell gives us a quote on opinions, “Opinions are what we hold. Convictions are what hold us!” In other words, our opinions can change and do change because they are formed on our preferences and not facts, but convictions that determine our behavior and are based on the Word of God should never change because they are based on God’s factual promises.

Of course we know that Christ is the Son of God and was perfect and sinless and John the Baptist was the preacher chosen to prepare the way for Christ’s coming. But do you realize that they had a calling on their lives that God had given them, they had some real convictions based on the Word of God? They did not live their lives based on their or any other man’s opinions, but convictions and the call of God to preach His Word and reach the lost. Do you have the same mind as Christ? Are you living a life based on man’s opinions or are you prioritizing your life by Biblical convictions? Did you know that your Pastor and his wife are trying their best to live a life based on God-given convictions from the Word of God? Do you also know that the moment they begin to make decisions based on their opinions and preferences or your opinions and preferences is the moment that they have left off obeying the Word of God, this is where compromise has snuck into our churches today. The Bible must be the standard for each of our lives.

 

Moses is spoken of in Hebrews 11, a chapter known as the “Hall of Faith,” because of his faith in God and his desire to please the Lord and not himself or the royal family that he was raised with. Moses chose to prioritize his life by the principles of the Word of God. According to Dictionary.com, the word principle is defined as: a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived and the word standard is defined as: something considered by an authority or by general consent as a   basis of comparison; an approved model or a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment:

Now let’s think about that, both words are similar in meaning if you take the time to read each definition listed on the website except this one thing, the word standard is an action based on comparison and judgement whereas the word principle is a set of actions based on a primary and fundamental truth – in this case, the Word of God.

Therefore, you and I can conclude that we should base our opinions, decisions and behaviors not on standards used for judgement and comparison, but on the biblical principles set forth in the Word of God. Isn’t this the point that the Apostle Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, is trying to make when he says in II Corinthians 10:12, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” He is saying here to avoid living by standards, but earlier in I Corinthians 2:5 &13 he gives us a guideline to use when making decisions or assessing those around us, “5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” “13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” This is living by principle, your decsions are not based on man’s wisdom, but are spiritual based on the Bible.

So, how are you doing? Are your decisions, opinions, lifestyle, behaviors, and expectations for yourself based on the Word of God? Are your decisions, opinions, lifestyle, behaviors, and expectations for others based on the Word of God?  My challenge to you today is put aside your standards and pick up biblical principles. Standards – preferences and opinions – will always change but a life based on the principles of the Word of God never will.

If there are those in your life, whether it be yourself or another, that are not meeting expectations, take the time to line those expectations and opinions up to the Bible, comparing spiritual with spiritual. Also, if there is an area in your life that could be improved based on biblical convictions, get that right today. If there is an area in the life of your Pastor, his wife, his family, the church leadership or any other person around you that you have real concerns about and you have “compared spiritual with spiritual,” pray for them about these areas. No one is perfect and we all need prayer, but please don’t be the person who is quick to judge, quick to get offended and quick to “shoot first and ask questions later.” James 5:16 states, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It is not our responsibility to judge, this is God’s responsibility, but it is our responsibility to pray, love, be patient, longsuffering and to have the other fruits of the Spirit manifested in our lives. Placing expectations on yourself or others based on man’s wisdom is a heavy weight that no one can lift and carry for very long, please be gracious and spiritual before passing judgement.

Remember, if you feel inadequate or rejected, Christ knows your pain and He loves you. Secondly, if you are doing your best to live by the Word of God without compromise, God is proud of you, keep going! Lastly, if you are quick to pass judgement, criticize, or hold others (the Pastor, the church, the Pastor’s wife and family, other Christians, etc.) to standards and not biblical principle, I challenge you to get into the Word of God, prayer, and receive the mind of Christ. Pastor Suri has often said, “It is easier to receive grace than it is to give it and those who find it hard to give grace will one day need it themselves.” Your Pastor, his wife and family are doing their best to live out the principles in the Word of God, how about you?

 

Warm Regards,

Brandy Suri

 

& One Day at a Time Devotional,

a ministry of Riverview Baptist Church

 

Written by Jennifer Smith