The concept of expectations is integral to human life, shaping our attitudes, perspectives, and actions. But what does the Bible, the guiding beacon of Christianity, say about expectations? This article aims to explore this topic deeply, drawing from various perspectives offered in both the Old and New Testaments.
Understanding the Concept of Expectations in Christianity
Before delving into detailed perspectives, a clear understanding of expectations in the context of Christianity is important. The term ‘expectations’ refers to the anticipated future outcomes or events based on specific current circumstances or actions.
Expectations in Christianity go beyond mere wishes or desires. They are deeply rooted in faith and hope, forming a foundation for believers to navigate their lives in alignment with God’s will.
Biblical Definition of Expectations
The Bible does not explicitly define ‘expectations’, however, the concept is woven throughout its teachings. Expectations, in a biblical sense, often relate to faith and the hope believers have in God’s promises.
Take the example of Abraham, known as the father of faith. Through faith, Abraham ‘expected’ that he would become the father of many nations, as God had promised. Such an expectation was not just a wish, but an assurance based on his unwavering faith in God’s words.
Similarly, the Israelites in the Old Testament had expectations of being delivered from bondage in Egypt and entering the promised land. These expectations were not mere fantasies, but a firm belief in God’s faithfulness and His ability to fulfill His promises.
The Role of Expectations in Christian Life
Expectations play a major role in guiding the behavior and attitudes of Christians. They provide a roadmap for living a life in alignment with God’s will, forming a foundation for hope and faith.
When Christians have expectations, they are not simply setting personal goals or ambitions. Their expectations are deeply intertwined with God’s plan and purpose for their lives. It is in these expectations that believers find the motivation and strength to persevere through challenges and trials.
However, managing expectations in the Christian life is not always easy. It often involves a delicate balance between worldly desires and surrendering personal expectations to conform to God’s will. This navigation requires humility, trust, and a willingness to let go of our own plans in favor of God’s perfect plan.
Furthermore, expectations in Christianity are not limited to individual aspirations. They also extend to the collective body of believers, the Church. Christians have the expectation that the Church will grow and flourish, spreading the message of God’s love and salvation to all nations.
Ultimately, expectations in Christianity are not about controlling outcomes or manipulating circumstances. They are about placing our trust in God and His promises, knowing that He is faithful and will fulfill His plans for our lives. In this understanding, expectations become a source of hope, strength, and perseverance in the Christian journey.
Biblical Perspectives on Expectations
A comprehensive understanding of expectations within a biblical context requires an exploration of both, the Old and New Testaments.
Old Testament Views on Expectations
The Old Testament outlines many expectations God had from His people and how they responded. Take, for instance, the Israelites’ expectations of a promised land. This land of milk and honey was not just an idle desire; rather, it was an expectation based on a promise from God Himself.
As the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness, their expectations were tested through a period of waiting. This waiting period was not just a test of patience, but also a test of faith. It was during this time that doubts began to creep into the hearts and minds of the people. They questioned whether God would truly fulfill His promise and deliver them to the land He had promised.
This struggle and complexity inherent in the process of waiting for expected outcomes in our faith journey is something that resonates with believers even today. We often find ourselves in a similar position, waiting for God to fulfill His promises in our lives. It is during these times of waiting that our faith is tested and our expectations are challenged.
However, despite the doubts and struggles, the Israelites eventually reached the promised land. Their expectations were not in vain, as God proved faithful to His promise. This serves as a reminder to us that even when our expectations are tested, we can trust in God’s faithfulness and His ability to fulfill His promises.
New Testament Insights on Expectations
The New Testament brings a new perspective on expectations, found within the teachings of Jesus Christ. Expectations are not eliminated, but rather repurposed to focus on the Kingdom of God rather than this world.
Jesus taught his disciples and followers to shift their expectations from earthly desires and material riches to spiritual ones. He emphasized the importance of seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all other things would be added unto them.
This shift in expectations prompts us to align our desires with God’s will and to seek His Kingdom above all else. It is a reminder that our ultimate expectation should be for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This prayer request, commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer, encapsulates the shift in expectations that Jesus taught.
By redirecting our expectations towards spiritual growth, righteousness, and the advancement of God’s Kingdom, we can find fulfillment and purpose in our lives. We can trust that God will provide for our needs as we prioritize His will above our own desires.
In conclusion, the biblical perspectives on expectations found in both the Old and New Testaments provide valuable insights into the nature of expectations in our faith journey. They remind us of the importance of trusting in God’s faithfulness, even in times of waiting and doubt. They also challenge us to shift our expectations from earthly desires to spiritual ones, aligning our desires with God’s will and seeking His Kingdom above all else. May we continually seek to understand and apply these biblical perspectives in our lives, as we navigate the complexities of expectations in our faith journey.
Expectations in the Life of Biblical Characters
The lives of Biblical characters provide us with valuable lessons about managing and aligning our expectations in a biblical way.
Expectations in the Life of Abraham
Abraham, the father of nations, embodies having complete trust in God’s promises.
Despite his age and circumstances, he held on to God’s promise with expecting faith. Although his situation seemed hopeless from a human perspective, his faith in God’s promise of a child in his old age led him to experience a miraculous fulfillment of that expectation.
Expectations in the Life of Moses
Moses, chosen for the great task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, had to manage both his personal and a nation’s expectations. Despite facing myriad challenges, his trust in God led the people towards the fulfillment of their expected promise.
His leadership demonstrates an ardent trust in God’s promise, serving as a reminder that while world-based expectations may fail, God’s promises never will.
Expectations in the Life of Paul
Paul provides a key example of having the right perspective on expectations, especially in the face of adversity. Despite suffering for the sake of the Gospel, he considered these light and momentary afflictions compared to the glory that awaited him.
His letters to the early churches revolve around the theme of expecting and hoping for the return of Jesus Christ, demonstrating that our ultimate expectation as believers should be rooted in this heavenward focus.
How Jesus Christ Handled Expectations
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, offers invaluable insights into managing expectations.
Expectations of Jesus as the Messiah
As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus had to manage the expectations of an entire nation who hoped for a physical king. Instead, He led them towards an understanding of a spiritual kingdom, whereby people could experience true freedom and rest.
The life and teachings of Jesus imply an essential shift in perspective – from transient worldly expectations to everlasting heavenly ones.
Jesus’ Teachings on Expectations
Jesus not only managed expectations placed upon Him but also taught His followers about expectations. His parables often involved a consequent reward or judgment, thus tying human behaviors to expectations of future outcomes.
A striking lesson from His teachings is the parable of the talents where each servant was held accountable according to their abilities. This conveys that God’s expectations from us are rooted in patience, faithfulness, and the responsible use of our God-given talents.
Practical Lessons on Managing Expectations
The Bible offers practical wisdom on managing and setting expectations, highlighting the importance of aligning them with God’s will.
The Balance Between Faith and Expectations
The Bible teaches that our expectations should stem from our faith in God’s promises. Faith and expectations function together; faith gives birth to expectations, and fulfilled expectations reinforce faith.
This delicate balance serves as a cycle in our spiritual journey, a continual process of trusting God, expecting results in His timing, and seeing His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
Dealing with Unmet Expectations: A Biblical Approach
What happens when expectations are not met? Biblical teachings advise us to handle such situations with a balanced approach, reminding us that God sees the bigger picture that we often don’t.
Centric to this is the belief that our expectations need to be flexible and open to God’s alterations. When our personal expectations align with God’s plan, peace and contentment are found, even when circumstances don’t unfold as initially expected.
Thus, the understanding of biblical expectations goes beyond merely wishing for a certain outcome. It requires active engagement with God’s word, a steadfast faith in His promises, and a humble acceptance of His divine will over our human desires.
When we view our life through the lens of faith, surrendering our expectations to God’s sovereign will, we can navigate our journeys with grace, resilience, and an enduring hope that anchors our soul.