Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Led by Grace rather than Expectation

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.

Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

No need to take Offence: character development series

Offence in the life of a follower of Jesus

It seems to me that the most significant consideration regarding offence is not what has been done to us, whether real or imagined, but rather, what our relationship is with Jesus BECAUSE the deeper is our relationship with Jesus, the more able we are to rise above offence and the less we are able to be offended. Was Jesus ever personally offended? Are we following Jesus? Have we asked to be transformed into His likeness? Then how is there room for us to take offence?

What is offence?

What IS offence? By offence I mean the perception that a personal attack has been made toward us and we respond in a hostile way. It is a form of elevation of myself over another person “who has offended me”, whereby I am judging their behaviour, attitude or word toward me as being beneath me. The reality may well be that the person has been offensive, but we always have a choice as to how we react or respond to their action. How I respond reveals my character just as much as how they have acted or spoken reveals theirs.

Once I was offended

There was an occasion as a young Believer when I had a marginally heated discussion with another about baptism. I’d not been immersed but christened as a baby. I took exception to the other person’s suggestion that I ought to be baptised, but later that evening I asked the LORD, “Why did I respond so such hostility?” The inner conviction I felt was, “Because you need to be baptised.” I began to study and soon learned baptism was about full immersion and what Jesus did which pleased the Father.

Ignorance or misunderstanding are often the root of our offence, I think.

Healthy response to the offender

“Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1) — leave the offence at the foot of the cross, leave it to GOD to teach the “offender”. Show grace! They may not deserve it, but none of us deserves salvation. Are we not grateful for the grace shown to us by GOD by sending His son?

“Do not look at the speck in your brothers eye and miss the plank in your own.” (Matthew 7:3)

To take offence is to turn a wound into a weapon. Instead, allow the pain to be expressed and then let it go, rather than turn it into judgement, hatred, unjust anger or distain.

You may say “I am justified!” No. You may be wise to remove yourself from the toxic relationship but you do not have the right to sin against another person, for any reason.

Distinguish between their misconduct, even abuse, and your response. Rise above. You do not harm them by showing offence. Rather, you harm yourself and your relationship with GOD.

Offence is hostility and unforgiveness toward someone for a perceived wrong they have done. Leave it to GOD, the perfector of our faith and our person. In this, we rise above the situation and leave the devil and his devices to their self destruction.

Reflections and Poetry

A fuller extent to Salvation: a reflection

I’m learning I can ignore the cries of my heart… because I’m learning to ignore the Old Man’s Cries.

Everything I’ve ever lived has been to contemplate, reflect, document, heal and grow from experience; most growth has come from hurtful experiences that, over time, have been overcome. But now I’m uncovering what it’s like to live truly embracing the reality and extent of Salvation.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Living in the New Man means those Old Man experiences and responses are flesh and can simply be ignored. The old man is who we were before Jesus came into our lives; the old man was dead in sin and is still dead. A dead man feels no pain.

This new man is alive in Christ. This new life is not difficult, but it is very new to me.

It is freeing. And yet, I can’t help wondering… is this right? Healthy? Ah, but that wonderment comes from the old man thinking, doesn’t it… it comes from questioning the reality and extent of what Jesus offers.

All of my past experience and insight has said we must face and address pain, and forgive, heal, and grow past it. To ignore it is so different.

But the New Man isn’t affected by insult or injury, is (s)he? Because (s)he is living in the reality of Jesus.

Is this right? It sure is new.

As I experience disappointment through this new perspective, I sense myself turning my back on the negative thought or emotion, and ignoring it. I’m not denying it, but rather, I’m simply not giving it any consideration. It doesn’t affect me because it can only affect the old man, the flesh, the part of me that is sinful and doesn’t want to let go of injustice or hurt.

The new man is capable of so much. Like walking on water, (s)he glides across offence and injustice, knowing God is the God of peace and justice.

As I live in the new man, I find I am much more open to a new perspective on my relationships and interactions. The old man – the flesh – chooses offence; the new man isn’t offended.

I’m also thinking  about the roles we place ourselves in – such as spouse, parent, child, sibling, employer, employee, congregation member, congregation leader, friend. I’m discovering that there is so much that we assume is correct in how we relate with one another, and I find I’m questioning everything now. I’m in the process of becoming more liberated and more accepting – I think. I hope so.

The journey continues, and is more exciting, and surprising with each passing season.