What is Grace
We need to be led by grace rather than by expectation starting today!
It has been quoted over and over again when discussing the question, What is grace? that “grace is receiving from GOD what we don’t deserve.” This is correct. But for us human beings, there is a practical element which goes beyond this.
Grace is behaving toward others with an attitude of acceptance rather than expectation.
What is Expectation
Expectation is demanding, hoping for, or assuming something will happen in a particular way. Expectation influences our attitude and our behaviour toward others, as we “expect” another person to behave in a particular way. When someone does not behave as we expect, we can take it as a personal slight — and if we do, our behaviour turns to attack the other person or to withdraw; both are responses of offence. When we take offence, whether overtly expressed or internalised, we are demonstrating the opposite of grace. Although the root may be out of genuine pain, offence is ungodly, unhealthy, and unproductive. (Note: the offence may be triggered by past incidents or pain which has nothing to do with the present or with the person from whom you are offended. This signals a need for inner healing, something we all need from time to time, and can receive from the healer: the Holy Spirit and with prayer counselling.)
Opportunity for Grace
Consider your birthday and someone you thought would think of you did not call or send a card. Offence whispers, “you aren’t loved” or “they are selfish, unthoughtful” or “they should have remembered your birthday”. But grace shrugs it off, or acknowledges your disappointment but recognises the other person didn’t know or didn’t remember or that they have other matters of greater importance… and even, thinks, “I hope they’re okay:)”.
Consider the other drivers on the road… we except them to signal, we expect them to give way according to the rules. What happens when they do not? There is a lot of road rage, purely because others do not drive the way we expect them too. On the one hand, of course the expectations are reasonable because those are the rules of the road. BUT if we are personally offended, if we act with hostility, are judgemental or accusatory, this is not going to change the situation nor is it going to produce good fruit from us. Instead, we need to learn to be gracious, not to allow the mistake to affect us personally, emotionally. Lately, I’ve been saying aloud when bad driving is in front of me, “Maybe the other driver is running late; maybe she just needs to learn better driving; maybe he needs prayer…” These responses are gracious.
Grief and Disappointment
Our lives are full of grief when we have high expectations from others who don’t measure up. This is the nub of what I’ll address in this post:
We need to be led by grace rather than expectation if we are going to live in forgiveness, love and mutual respect.
When we are expectant toward a certain outcome or behaviour from others, it means we will easily be disappointed. People simply cannot measure up to our expectations. Some people who begin to follow Jesus end up walking away, because they perceive He hasn’t measured up… when it is actually the body of Christ: the church folk who haven’t measured up. How tragic.
And when we expect, we do not actually receive but take when someone does give of themselves to us. We take what we are owed, rather than receive what we are offered. If you reflect on this, I believe you’ll see there is a big difference.
It is vital that we, the body of believers in Christ, stop expecting from others, because it blocks love. It blocks ministry. It blocks the family from growing together.
Love one another
Read John 15 — the abide chapter.
How can we abide in Him if we are cross with one another?
How can we love one another if we take offence?
Why be led by Grace rather than Expectation
We all must be led by thoughts of grace toward one another to root out condemnation and criticism. We must be honest toward one another if we feel wounded, but not let that wound take root toward a heart of bitterness (which comes from pain turned outward). We need to walk in grace and forgiveness rather than protection and suspicion. This sows mutual love, acceptance and honours GOD.
How to be led by Grace rather than Expectations
If you have a tendency to put aside your own needs for others, then this word of grace does not apply to you. But if you tend to suppress your needs and walk in sorrow because others don’t pay attention to you, or if you tend to get angry at others who disappoint you and hold a grudge, then you need to start to choose grace. This will allow you to overcome your own expectations and disappointments.
Can you begin to recognise that some people just won’t measure up to your hopes? It’s good to be aware of this… and then to let go. Let GOD meet your needs, allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you who mourn, look ahead and not behind, to see what life will unfold.
Meeting your expectations is not something others owe you. It may be a weakness in them or a mismatch between you; don’t take it personally. Perhaps you can help them to understand that you’re disappointed, or that they might benefit if they learned how to interact in a more responsible manner. But don’t shun them. Don’t allow your heart to be hardened. Allow grace to penetrate your attitude all the time. Choose to accept others as you hope to be accepted, as GOD has accepted you. And forgive.
It’s time we choose grace as GOD has chosen grace for us. It’s time.
As Paul learned from Jesus, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9a), so let us walk in grace toward others and accept theirs toward us.
Every blessing and with much prayer, Amen.