I have tried to do it all.
I have tried to do it perfectly.
I have tried to wow the world, or at least just my husband.
And every time I come up short.
Expectations are probably the number one struggle in this life for most of us – our own expectations, expectations placed on us from others, floating cultural expectations, made-up expectations. You name it, someone or something expects it.
The difficult reality is that without belief we will not be able to manage all the expectation. This is Biblical fact. Goodness, it’s hard enough to manage expectation even with the hope of Christ.
Paul lays out this reality for the Galatians in Galatians 3:10-14:
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
It is so easy to run from belief in order to be free.
Belief to unbelievers often feels too much like expectation – following rules, making commitments, organized nonsense.
There is expectation in life. Yes, it’s a thing. Without belief, these expectations are my doom. The Greek word for curse in Galatians 3:10 is kataran or a curse, doomed one, due to condemnation.
The curse Paul talks about in Galatians says, yes, I will never measure up to any expectation, not a single one.
Galatians 3:11 says:
Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law…
The irony is that in facing the expectations head on, in looking the law in the eye, living in belief of God, instead of closing our eyes to all the expectation and running away to hide in unbelief, if we just open our eyes, we would see the beautiful Truth of redemption:
In Christ, the law looks a lot less like expectation and a lot more like crucifixion.
Christ Jesus came into the world so that we no longer live under this curse. Those expectations? Every single one – whether they are appropriate, inappropriate, or somewhere wonky in the middle – is intended by God to remind us of freedom.
When someone puts an expectation on me, when I see, hear, or feel an expectation rising up within my soul, now, because the curse has been lifted in Christ’s crucifixion, I respond with freedom.
Freedom to live in Christ, to love in Christ, to carry out my vocations and roles honoring others, serving in His name.
Every single expectation is in my freedom.
Cooking dinner for the seventieth night in a row – freedom in Christ! I do it because I like food, and I love my family, not because I have to.
Talking nicely to someone I don’t like – freedom in Christ! My eternity is secured whether I talk nice or not, but life is better when I do.
Giving time or money – Freedom in Christ! I could keep it all, spend it all, or Ebenezer it all, but something in my heart just won’t, because God gave me people and people matter more.
It’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. Freedom doesn’t look perfect, but it doesn’t cease being freedom. I have it, whether I use it or not, feel it or not.
Today I am praying for that Spirit of Faith and Freedom in you.
…so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Let the Holy Spirit well up. Write it on your wrist, your hand, or wherever you can see it as a reminder. Every time you feel the weight of expectation, of “not enough,” say it out loud:
Freedom in Christ!
And then go about your business. Do what needs to be done in your home, your family, at school, at work, at church, in life, but knowing that curses are for unbelief, expectations are the law- pointing us straight to our freedom in Christ.
He lives! And so I do to. I live in belief, and truth in love, because that’s Him in me, that’s real freedom.
Spirit, speak freedom into our lives. May expectation only point us to Him, every time, to live free and full, and abundantly, eyes wide open, in love, in care, in giving…
Freedom in Christ!
What expectations get to you – at home, at work, in friendship and relationships, at church, as a citizen, anywhere?
How does freedom through Christ Jesus change expectations for the believer?
How can we help one another live in freedom in our vocations and roles, while being faithful to the Word of Truth?