Do You Have Different Expectations of Others Than God Does?

different-expectations-than-god-pride

Everyone who calls upon the name of Christ must be held to the biblical expectations the Lord has for us. This is important for us to remember when we feel tempted to hold members of the body to different standards which are outside God’s Word.

In a recent class I attend on Titus the leader pointed out something that I had never considered. In Titus 1:5-9, Paul tells Titus to appoint elders in every city and he reminds Titus of the qualifications a man must meet before he is appointed as an elder. 

What does Paul say are the qualifications for an elder’s wife? 

There aren’t any listed. 

This seeming omission brought up a good discussion. We all fill in the blanks when it comes to our elders’ and deacons’ wives. Sadly, we fill in the blanks for everyone in the church, placing unbiblical expectations on the body. 

This is when we need to dive into the truths of Scripture and see what God says. Flip through the pages and you’ll not find “an elder’s wife is to be …” anywhere. What you will find are dozens and dozens of passages on how a Christ follower is to live. All Christians are called to a high standard of character; God’s character. “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) is a calling that should make us all drop to our knees. 

We place unbiblical expectations on others because of our pride. Pride is that nasty, invasive weed that pops up everywhere. Like the weed, we must get at the root of pride, dig it out and create an environment that is not conducive for it to flourish. 

Pride can only be tamed when we fill our minds and hearts with God’s truth.

Know What God Requires of Believers

If I feel another church member should be doing something or acting a certain way, I need to ask myself if that’s a standard I hold myself to. But most importantly, does God hold me to that standard?

What are the biblical expectations we can rightly place on believers in the church?

The New Testament is filled with demands on our character. Here are a few passages that we can use to check our own behavior and hearts.

Produce Sweet, Fragrant Fruit

Galatians 5:22-26 is a great start.  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
— Galatians 5:22-26

Upon regeneration, we are filled with Holy Spirit. He dwells within believers all day, every day. The fruit of His presence is that we will show all the listed characteristics. 

I love that Paul encourages us with a challenge: If we live by the Spirit (and we do if we are one with Christ), let us also walk by the Spirit. 

As you observe your leaders’ wives and fellow church members’ conduct, these are biblical standards to hold one another to. Are they walking by the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit? Are you?

What are the qualifications of an elder’s wife? She is to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. 

What standard is every church member held accountable to? They are to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. 

The last part of that passage is also equally important. Never are we to forget what great sinners we are and the great gift we have received through forgiveness of our sins. Let us not boast over anything we do. Maintain peace within the body. Give thanks continuously for all that you have, leaving no room for envy.

Do Good. Choose Good. 

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
— 1 Peter 3:8-12

When you read 1 Peter in its entirety you cannot escape the fact that over and over Peter encourages his readers to do good under all circumstances. Why? Because by keeping our behavior excellent among the world we may silence the ignorance of foolish men and as they observe our good deeds they may glorify God at Christ’s return (1 Peter 2:12, 15).

The first letter of Peter is so rich in encouragement. Step-by-step, Peter lays out how we as Christians should behave as citizens, workers and spouses. And he even sums it all up for us! Even in 64 AD Christians liked bullet point sermons! 

The list in 3:8-9 is by no means easy to follow. No command that calls us to deny our flesh is. However, as imitators of Christ we have no excuse not to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit. And when someone verbally attacks our character or family our response should be a blessing. 

Read the verses again…No matter how hard it is to live up to the standards God has set for us, He has His eyes on us and His ears ready to attend to our prayers. He did not leave us to become Christ-like on our own! We could never do it. Christ left us a perfect example, and the Spirit lovingly guides, convicts, and intercedes for us. 

How should your elders’ wives respond to criticism and heavy trials? With a harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble spirit. Keeping her tongue from evil, speaking no deceit, turning away from evil, and blessing those who attack. 

How should all the members of Christ’s church behave? With a harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble spirit. Keeping their tongue from evil, speaking no deceit, turning away from evil, and blessing those who attack.

Serve One Another. Rejoice In Serving!

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
— 1 Peter 4:8-11

Peter nears the end of his first letter with a profound preposition: Above all.  Like the Christians in Asia Minor living in a dominantly pagan culture, we must keep fervent in our love for one another. Why was this of great importance to Peter? 

The church of Christ is a family. Have you noticed how easily fights occur within your family unit? Add in a major life stress and the tension escalates. It’s only when we choose to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and be quick to overlook and forgive sins that we can live in harmony. 

Be hospitable without complaint. When I led the ladies of my church in the study of 1 Peter this command came with a strong gut-punch. Without complaint.  Why should we be hospitable without complaint? I think we can see the answer in v. 11: so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. We serve, we love, we teach for the glory of God. Everything we do is to serve Christ and we are to do it with joy. 

Are the elders’ and deacons’ wives in your church fervently loving, being hospitable and serving by the strength of God, bringing glory to Him? 

Are you? 

This is the standard for all who follow Christ.

God’s Word pierces our hearts with conviction but His Word is also a healing balm and a source of great encouragement. It is hard to look at the standard God has set for us when we are acutely aware of our sinful nature. Through the Holy Spirit and our commitment to denying our flesh we all can live in a manner worthy of Christ. 

 Everyone who calls upon the name of Christ must be held to the biblical expectations the Lord has for us. This is important for us to remember when we feel tempted to hold members of the body to different standards which are outside God’s Word.