We’ve been thinking a bit about expectations this week. Now, when our expectations fail to be met, we have a couple of less than optimal options;
1. Slide toward despair and anger. A passive response to not getting what we hoped for.
2. Find new ways to get what we expect or want (and, if necessary, justify our actions in case others think we are selfish).
On this second point, my pastor preached last Sunday on Judges 18 (The tribe of Dan looking for a reason to take a land not offered them by God). He listed several ways (tongue in cheek) we can become good syncretists (having the appearance of Christianity but operating on unbiblical principles). They are worth repeating as we may find that we actively seek to justify willful behavior so that we get what we want. I don’t have his list in front of me so I’m going on memory here:
1. Start going after what you want but then on the way ask God if he’s going to bless what you are doing
2. When you get an answer, be sure to read any ambiguity as supporting your own interests. Don’t consider that the person telling you that God is favoring you might be off his rocker (the priest was not following the Law because he was allowing Micah to have idols as well).
3. When you see that you can be successful at grabbing something not yours, assume that success means that God is in it. Assume might makes right.
4. If a better deal comes along (the priest or seeming success of Micah and his idols), assume the better deal is a good idea and grab all you can.
My pastor did a better job with these and I’m not doing justice here to his creativity but I do find that it is so easy for me to justify my expectations, find ways to fulfill them–even if I know God is not in it. Some examples I see from others:
1. Justifying rage towards children because they are rebellious
2. Justifying sexual sin because God wants me to be happy
3. Justifying overeating/undereating because celebration is good/too many people overindulge
4. Justifying withholding love because others aren’t doing their fair share