I’m just going to be totally honest—when I do nice things for the people in my relationships, I low-key expect them to reciprocate and do something nice for me. I even expect to have that kind of relationship with God. I can’t tell you how many times when I didn’t get what I wanted in my life, and I internally blamed God for it. If there’s no milk left in the house, “Why me, God??? What did I ever do to deserve this???” I’m kidding of course, but seriously though. Have you ever questioned God when things didn’t go your way? Or maybe, you felt Him calling you to do something you didn’t want to do? As humans, it’s in our sinful natures to expect the world to revolve around our own needs and ourselves. But as we carry these thoughts into our schools, our workplaces, it obstructs growth in our relationships. We are constantly taking and taking and taking, and when we give it’s with selfish hearts. So how do we begin to release these expectations?
1) Find contentment.
According to a past sermon by Howard, “the secret to life isn’t success, it’s contentment.” I know I quote this sermon all the time, but I think it’s applicable to every facet of life and it’s really what I need to learn. We, as humans, are always wanting more. We so often get so caught up in all the success and objects and other things that we want, we neglect the fact that we have everything we need. BUT, like I said, it’s in our nature to want more. Luckily, finding contentment has everything to do with Jesus, not ourselves. Finding contentment means understanding that our God, all-powerful and all-loving, provides us with everything we need—not everything we WANT, everything we need. We can find contentment knowing that He provides these things for us, not necessarily in the ways we expect.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:10-13).
2) Find joy.
I wrote a whole post dedicated to joy during the FOTS series, but joy has everything to do with contentment and expectation. The root of greed and expectation, I think, is malcontentment. We have little holes in our heart that we constantly try to fill with things like success, objects, people, or things that we think will make us happy. But, happiness is fleeting. When we fill our hearts with these things, we are just running in circles. Luckily, God offers us a better option: JOY!!! While happiness requires us constantly chasing after it, joy isn’t a choice—it’s an explosion. God provides us with an inner joy that springs from the internal understanding that we believe in an all-powerful God. Unlike happiness, God provides this joy in our spiritual journey through His mercy and salvation, and our joy is complete in Him and not in our own decisions.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:6-8).
3) Be a better LOVEr
“Being a better LOVEr” was also a past sermon by Howard (love you, please sponsor me). Basically in this sermon, Howard taught us that when we develop relationships with God (partially by finding contentment and joy in Him), we are more equipped to resist the internal temptations to let our expectations and greed infiltrate our relationships. Instead, we can more easily channel God’s love for us into our relationships with others and love more selflessly and with less expectation.
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
When we become so wrapped up in ourselves, we often start to let this mentality rule our lives and our relationships. But we walk with Him, He begins to give us the contentment and joy that allows us to become better LOVErs. Throughout this week, I encourage us all to meditate on what we want and what we need. The next time you don’t get what you want or you become fully focused on it, start to meditate on God’s wants for you instead.
God bless and sleep easy, fam.