What Do You Expect?

As Brian Gale mentioned in the last Editorial, many have made “new-year’s-resolutions.” They imagined what they might be able to achieve and what will be in store for them, and even those comparatively few who focused on what they might be able to do for others, might have wondered what they would get in return. Of course, in most cases, their resolutions are short-lived and soon forgotten, except for their desire of being successful, healthy, wealthy and recognized.
In our Christian walk of life, we should have overcome those idle pursuits, but have we? We should have reached the understanding that our reward will come from God–not man–but have we? It is sometimes easy to forget where our priorities must lie.
Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, had to be reminded of his purpose. He suffered much, and expected something big in return. But when his expectations were not met and instead his sufferings increased, he felt self-pity. Notice God’s admonition to Baruch: “You said, ‘Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest’… Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh… I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” (Jeremiah 45:3-5).
We are to be content with what God gives us, without expecting a great reward in this life. When we live the Christian way of life, our reward WILL be great—but it will be reserved and kept for us in heaven (Matthew 5:12), until Jesus Christ returns; and it is then that He will reward us according to our work (Revelation 22:12). In the meantime, we are to do our Christian duties “in secret,” until the Father who sees in secret will reward us openly—in His due time (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18).
To do only good to those who do good to us, or with the expectation of being rewarded by them, is really selfish conduct. That is why Christ tells us: “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for [or expecting] nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High…” (Luke 6:33-35).
That is the Christian way, but it’s not always easy. It does not make any sense to the unconverted human mind. The carnal reaction is: “If he is not doing me any favors, I will not do anything for him either. If he is not thankful for what I do for him, then I won’t help him again, even if he needs help. That will teach him…”
However, we read that God is kind and merciful even to those who are “unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35-36).
Have you ever wondered why God tells us not to covet or to be envious of others (Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:3; Galatians 5:26)? The answer is, envy destroys us. It is rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30). It is also totally contrary to the love of God (1 Corinthians 13:4). God’s love is the way of giving. Covetousness and envy are the exact opposite. They want to get. And when they do not obtain what they seek or expect, then the ensuing disappointment will lead to wrong conduct.
Envy motivates us to think and do terrible things to others. Joseph’s brothers sold him because of envy (Acts 7:9). The chief priests and elders opposed Christ and plotted against Him to put Him to death because of envy (Matthew 27:1, 18; Mark 15:10). It is no surprise that James tells us: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there” (James 3:16).
We can become envious when we see others obtain favors which we desire for ourselves or for those close to us. Rather than rejoicing when someone else is praised or helped, we may feel ignored, excluded or passed over. We become envious because we expect great things for ourselves—and we expect them from other people. We forget God and His purpose for us. We forget that we must keep a good attitude, no matter what we may experience, because we live for and serve Christ, expecting our reward from Him in His due time (Colossians 3:23-24). That constant and unwavering realization necessitates that God’s mind dwells mightily in us through His Holy Spirit.
When we realize that feelings and attitudes of self-pity, disappointment, self-seeking, covetousness, envy and even anger sneak into our lives, it is high time to take stock. Chances are, we have allowed ourselves to drift away from God, and we are not as close to Him as we ought to be. Then, it is extremely important to get on our knees and to pray to Him for repentance and forgiveness and the renewal of our minds (Ephesians 4:23) through the power of His Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). God has promised that He will honor and answer such a genuine and heartfelt prayer (Luke 11:13)–and “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Remember, “the earnest expectation” of the entire creation eagerly waits for the moment, when the sons of God will be revealed in glory (Romans 8:19). God’s gift to us will be so much greater than anything that any man could possibly bestow on us. Man might disappoint us, but God never will. That should be the quintessence of our right expectations.

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