There are many reasons why we dread the Christmas season. Such reasons have already been mentioned in this series with another one being expectations. Getting together with family could very well include family members sharing their expectations with you:
- “Are you really still at that job? You need to work at ___.
- “Are you and ___ still dating? When are you going to pop the question?”
- “You’re looking a little chunky there. You should go on a diet.”
Hopefully, your expectations aren’t that blunt, but we all face them in one way or another, either placing them on ourselves or having them placed on us.
The difference between proper and negative expectations is all in the motive.
I went to a high school that, at that time, was prestigious for basketball. When I was in Jr. High, the varsity team was state runner up back to back years. They were insanely good. When I got to high school, I had never experienced a culture such as that. It was more than just a winning culture. “You will be great. You will fight. You will train. You will run faster, hustle more and be more aggressive than anyone who we suit up against. We may not be the most athletic but we will work the hardest, run the most and work them out of the gym. They will get pressed the entire game and they will break.” The culture of that school was very aggressive and hard nosed. If there’s a loose ball on the floor, forget the floor burns you will receive; you will sacrifice your body for the ball. If winning means running through a brick wall, you do it with no questions asked.
I’m not like that. I am much quicker to call my mom when I’m sick than I am to be aggressive and fight for a rebound. There was a lot of tension during my high school years athletically because the expectations that were being put on me weren’t being met.
Then there are good motives. When I was a (VERY) immature teenager, my dad never faltered. He never failed to tell me, lovingly yet factually, that I need to be relentless in my pursuit to honor the Lord. “When you do something, do it 100%”, “Never let someone question your work ethic,” “Do whatever it takes to do the job well and, when you get credit for it, point to the Lord.”
That’s something I can get behind.
Our reading this morning talks about positive and negative motives. Proverbs references expectations made by the flesh. As much as we would consider certain family members to be wicked, Solomon is telling us to trust in the Lord and live by his expectations which are laid out in Philippians 3. Expectations from the spirit will captivate you about God! As a follower of Christ, think of your heavenly future! Now THAT is proper motivation. Do whatever you can to share this hope throughout this holiday season!