Expectations can cause major havoc in your life. Expecting something in return for a good deed can be a slippery slope that I am not sure any of us want to travel down.
My friend, Donna (let’s just call her Donna even though we all know that really isn’t her name), has a beautiful heart. She will do just about anything for anyone. Last month, she spent weeks caring for her elderly mother. She does this with ease and poise. It is a gift given to her from God. Anyway, when she returned home she was telling me about her experience and couldn’t stop complaining about her siblings. While she was visiting her mother from out of state her siblings were nowhere to be found. They never helped or stopped by. They never offered support. Most important to Donna, her siblings never even came to see her. Now this sounds awful, I know, but Donna somehow had come to the expectation that her going to see her Mom and care for her, would entitle her to visits and support from her siblings. Her siblings who were exhausted from all the help they had already given their mom saw Donna’s visit as a much needed vacation. Donna’s expectation was wrong, and it caused her a lot of grief. She was there to help her mother. She wasn’t there for any other reason, so she shouldn’t expect more.
Another friend of mine, Susie, just celebrated a milestone birthday. Her husband took her out to a great dinner and a movie. When they arrived home, their kids met them at the door and celebrated with a cake. Susie was upset because she had given her husband a huge surprise party a couple of years before for his milestone birthday. Why hadn’t he done that for her? She was upset by his small token of a present for her birthday. After all she took weeks to plan his event and make it perfect. Yet, Susie’s husband saw his small token as a great present. He works long hours, their kids are teenagers and are never around, and Susie loves spending time as a family. He thought this was better than a party, but Susie expected more. Susie expected a birthday bash.
Can you see where I am going with this expectation thing? When we do things for the wrong reasons then our expectations are high. When we do things out of love and humility then our expectations disappear.
When God asked us to serve one another, He wasn’t asking us to add in a few expectations for that service. Imagine what people would have “owed” Jesus for his healings, his forgiveness, and his miracles. Imagine what we would “owe” Jesus for his parables, his lessons, and his wisdom.
So why do we think that we are allowed to have something “owed” to us? Why do we think that we are “owed” anything?
I often hear that people give gifts and expect thank you cards in return. In fact I see it all the time in “Dear Abby” columns. I gave so and so a wedding gift, and they didn’t even thank me for it. Yes, it would be nice to have a thank you, but is that why you gave the gift? I know what you all are going to say – but how do I know they got it? My response is if you gave it for the right reasons, then it won’t matter if you get the credit for the gift actually being received. Sorry, it just doesn’t.
When we give of our time, talent or money, we don’t earn the right to see how it is used. God gets that right, not us. When we spend years dedicating our life to others, we don’t earn the right to see the fruits of our labor – God does. When we do service from the heart, for all the right reasons, we should feel blessed for the opportunity. We shouldn’t expect anything from it. We should instead praise God for the opportunity to touch others, and remember that we are blessed that we don’t “owe” Christ for giving us the ultimate present – eternal life gifted to us through His brutal beating and death on a cross; which by the way he received for our sinfulness.