Recently I was listening to a sermon while I was driving and the pastor said something that caught my attention. The pastor said, "as Christians, we must expect more of ourselves and less of others." At first this phrase seemed a bit egocentric, but as I have been pondering this phrase and what it means the Lord has started to reveal to me what it means to be in the world, but not of the world and how His grace changes everything.
The first part of that phrase is that Christians must expect more of ourselves. The Lord has been using my job recently to show me what this looks like. Many people of the world focus solely on the results, believing that the ends justify the means. As Christians, we are called to be in the world, but not of the world and that means that we care about the means. We know that our actions, not simply the results, are what God is concerned with because those actions show our heart. As I continue to mature in my faith, God is reminding me that this maturity should manifest itself in my expectations for myself, and thus in my actions.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
The second part of that phrase is that “Christians must expect less of others.” While this might sound harsh, the Lord is teaching me that what this means is showing more grace. I have been seeing this in my daily interactions with people. I tend to expect people to do things in a way that I consider sensible, however as most of you have experienced, most people don’t do things your way. Previously my reaction to a situation like this was to become angry or indignant, all the while trying to hide those feelings to show I am a ‘good Christian’. God has showed me that I feel this way because I wrongly place myself as a judge over other people instead of extending grace toward them as God does to me. As I have thought more on this little phrase, God is helping me remember the grace He first gave me so that I can give that grace to other people.
Because God has been gracious enough to pursue me when I was lost and gracious enough to continue pursuing me even when I stumble, I desire to represent Him well. I desire to be in this world, but not of this world. As I continue to focus on His immense grace, I am continually reminded of my need to show this same grace to the people that I witness to. As I look at the phrase now through these lens of grace, I pray that I can continue to expect more of myself and less of others.