“23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.
24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”
(James 1:23-24 NLT)
Ever get strong negative reactions to unfulfilled expectations of others? willingness to self examine or point the finger inwards to self, may result in surprising, but redemptive results as I personally discovered.
Caution: This is likely to convict, challenge or cause you to break out in sweat!!
Have you ever reacted furiously or angrily when people have not fulfilled your expectations of them. I have a few times and the last time, the Lord ministered to me profoundly in a manner for which I am eternally grateful. You see, if you regularly react furiously or angrily when people do not fulfill your expectations of them, then it is time to sit back and think: why do I often have these emotions well up in me, what is wrong with me? It is as if there is a persona foreign to you within who is triggered negatively when your expectations are not met.
There could be many reasons why you behave in this manner, one being that these people have always given you the impression that they want to meet your needs and another one is that you have a subconscious deep-set belief that they are the gender who have to do this or that particular thing so that if they do not, you become like the untamed devouring Rottweiler in your thoughts and woe be to them if those thoughts translate into action!
Whatever you think that they owe you or humanity that propels you to want them to meet these expectations, the basic truth is that they owe you or humanity nothing at all. Anyone who is in Christ should know that it is against the will of God to impose unreasonable expectations on others, but we at times fall short of this truth. Spouses have certain expectations of one another which we all understand are normal and it is normal to have some expectations of immediate family members, close friends, a courting partner and work colleagues. Expectations of one another are the essence of relationships and parties in contractual agreements.
However if even in those relationships as in our casual ones there are recurring feelings of anger or contention when we feel let down, rather than always pointing of the finger outwards and blaming others, as Christians if we honestly point the finger towards ourselves for a change, we will be surprised but relieved at what we will discover. The problem may not be from the other person at all or not entirely, as the saying goes “there is no smoke without fire”.
If we choose to humble ourselves by examining our hearts before the LORD, God’s grace will abound for His grace responds to our humility. God’s grace results in the conviction of the Holy Spirit which we are ready to receive when we set out pointing the finger inward. It is not a deliberate attempt to blame ourselves for such things, it is simply a self examination exercise which is good for the soul. In this place, we are enlightened to the hidden and presumptuous sins that only God can reveal to us when we seek him sincerely.
David who became the king of Israel engaged in the self examination exercise regularly if not he would not have prayed as follows: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:12-14)
If we are honest with ourselves we can easily be honest before God in prayer and therefore receive answers to our prayers. In my personal situation, during worship in church a couple of days after the incident happened, I was thinking “although I thought what I expected was reasonable, perhaps my reactions over the course of time meant I did not handle the person’s failure to comply very well”. I then sensed strongly the LORD was saying the following in response “actually Deborah, your emotional reaction and at times your utterances in this incident and similar ones in the past reveal
1. Self-idolatry (Controlling)
3. Self dependence
It was like a great knock on my head to hear that. Initially I was shocked and wondered whether it was God speaking to me. But I knew deep within that those words were true. In relation to that particular incident and similar ones in the past, the LORD began to give me further insight then and some time after church how these three flawed characteristics can manifest in a Christian’s life to varying degrees.
1. Self-idolatry (Controlling)
I sensed the LORD saying “You were not vocalising it plainly to others but the message your unreasonable emotional reactions conveyed is the following in words “each time I desire something and ask you, I want you to comply or do as I say. If you do not then I will not be happy with you and it will adversely affect my relationship with you”. Although you don’t realise it consciously, you are seeking to be elevated and therefore worshipped. You say you worship me, but in that situation, you are seeking others to ascribe worship to you!
The LORD showed me that in such situations, “most people at the receiving end (victims) react by either
a) becoming fearful and do what you want so as to live in peace with you or appease you to make you happy.
b) doing as you request but increasingly resent you with every fibre of their being because they discern that their obedience to your will is the only way they can receive your approval or live in peace with you.
c) shunning you permanently because they immediately become offended and want nothing to do with you.”
I sensed the following explanation from the LORD “This is when you have expectations of people and they do not fulfill them, and you find that your reactions are recurrently rage-filled or filled with disappointment. Your reactions reveal a deep-set feeling of being let down and even rejected so that you decide to have nothing to do with them. Such a reaction means that you place unreasonably great weight on their response as if your life depends on it. You make those people idols as well as whatever it is they failed to do”.
3.Self dependent “I always want my own way” syndrome
The tendency to be a self idolater /controller of people and situations as well an idolater in varying degrees even as a Christian, is basically a product of the fundamental “I always want my way” syndrome of the adamic sin or carnal nature. A truly committed or born again Christian does not deliberately scheme to act in any of these ways, but while they are being perfected in the sanctification process of gracious Father God, the old nature under the control of Satan (formerly called Lucifer) at times manifests. The source of this “I always want my own way” syndrome is Satan.This is why it is important to have a lifestyle of self examination as King David so as to honestly acknowledge one’s sins and seek God for cleansing from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
A key scripture which expresses God’s desire that we refrain from being self dependent and rather to depend on him always is Proverbs 3:5-8 (NIV):
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
After God rebuked me and got me thinking about all the aforementioned, there was no sense of condemnation but I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit and a profound feeling of being loved by Father to the extent that he would not only highlight the sinful nature that was so hidden, but he would include some teaching as well. He revealed to redeem and I accepted what he showed me about my sinful nature which led me to ask for forgiveness. Together we had nipped that flaw in my nature in the bud and I had received much teaching as well!
I am currently very conscious that no one has to do what I require of them even if they promise me they will. If they do not meet my expectations and disappoint me, I have developed the fruit of self control in relation to my emotions, rather than let my emotions run wild and let my mouth be an outlet of ungodly expression, I have learnt to quickly vocalise to myself the decision I choose to take which is to forgive them. I then quickly ask the Lord to heal my emotions from the disappointment or any anguish caused.
Doing this quickly really helps to prevent a welling up in me of negative emotions; exaggerated, violent reactions often have little to do with the situation in hand but more to do with unresolved past similar offenses, the emotions of which are triggered by the similar situation in hand. When we know our weaknesses, we must choose to partner with God in the right way to be free from temptation to sin so that we remain overcomers in Christ (Romans 8:37). I am not yet perfected, but I am getting there with God’s daily help.
When we study the life of King David, we note that he had cultivated the lifestyle of sustaining intimacy with God. Being quick to ensure his heart condition was right before God was key to his success at remaining the Apple of God’s eye. He was quick to forgive (i.e. Saul) and quick to repent, for instance in relation to his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband (Psalm 51).
Exposure of sin is lethal to satan’s kingdom only if the redeemed respond in the right manner because they are cleansed from all unrighteousness connected with that sin so that satan no longer has a foothold in their lives.
Following that incident which brought about this ministration, I recalled how I used to regularly and fervently pray for God to renew my mind (Romans 12:1-3) and also for the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), and for my heart issues but then I grew complacent and only did so very sparingly, while I prayed often for other things in my life and for others. I praise God that He used that incident to remind me that one of the worst things a Christian can do is to stop praying regularly and fervently for protection of their heart, renewal of mind, fruit of the Spirit and Spiritual gifts as well as what they are struggling with.We must not take God’s grace and protection for granted, Satan as a devouring lion does us no favours and is always ready to pounce at every given opportunity!
Thank you LORD that you reveal to redeem!
“Plain Speaking & Counsel” Series : Blunt, to the point narrative (not mincing words so to speak!) & counsel relating to a moral matter or subject requiring our attention as children of God. Click for
PLAIN SPEAKING & COUNSEL I : The question of failures/affliction – is it always the fault of the devil, me or both?
PLAIN SPEAKING & COUNSEL II: The question of friendships; Acquaintance, close/inner circle friend or none of the above!
©Deborah E. Nyamekye 19/03/2016