“Do you think, asks the Sovereign LORD, that I like to see wicked people die?
Of course not!
I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”
Ezekiel 18:23 NLT
Before I got married my parents told me that the best piece of advice they could pass along to me and my soon-to-be was do not have expectations. Since that day, as often as possible, I’ve tried to be extremely aware of my expectations. Expectations are Assumption’s even more lethal cousin. They are SO SNEAKY! (Seriously. Ninja-grade sneaky.) I can’t even tell you how many avoidable arguments or challenges I have tripped over because I held onto expectations that I didn’t even realize I had. Expectations (according to Merriam-Webster) are:
: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
: a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be
I know reading that doesn’t exactly make you want to run and hide but most of the world’s most dangerous things are in stealth-mode. Most of the time, expectations seem common sense to the one thinking them but are “nonsense” to everyone else. Then the fight becomes about whose sense it is superior and why you are OWED the thing/expression/action that was expected. I’ve let expectations infiltrate my relationships with my kids, my husband, my friends and my family. My parents were right – they can be messy at best and toxic at worst.
So, what’s the alternative?
In Ezekiel 18, God shows us how he deals with the world not understanding his common sense. He does it by patiently, clearly and calmly having a conversation with his children. They were twisting the words of an old proverb to shift blame off of themselves and onto their parents and grandparents. In this situation, I would probably have a hard time not losing my cool. God, however, is the epitome of cool and he deals with it in 3 simple steps:
- Remove the object of contention. “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD you will not say this proverb anymore in Israel.” (Ez. 18:3) If something causes you to sin, cut it out. God got rid of the temptation to shift blame and misinterpret his word.
- Give a clear, patient explanation of the NEW way. How to do his will (with examples!!) and what the consequences will be if they do (or don’t) do it.
- Include evidence of deep love for the person you are talking with. Verse 23 “Do you think, asks the Sovereign LORD, that I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” And, verse 32 “I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!“
Basically, the message I’m getting loud and clear from God for our relationships with eachother:
Let’s stop having
and instead focus on
Dear Lord, thank you for being our perfect Father and never holding us to unspoken expectations. You are so patient with us. Please help us model our lives after you and your examples of love in the Bible. Help us remember that YOU alone are our hope and you care for us well beyond our wildest expectations. Amen.
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