Last night I had the privilege of hearing Julie Ziglar Norman, daughter of Zig Ziglar, share her testimony at the Women’s Care Center of Rhea County banquet. At one point she shared a story about a poor grade she received in school for a speech she gave to her class. When she asked the teacher why she received a low mark, her teacher explained,
Julie, I know who your father is. I expected better from you!
That story got me thinking about our Heavenly Father, and the expectations upon those of us who believe, and are thus given the right to be called His sons and daughters (John 1:12).
And yet, unlike Julie Ziglar Norman’s teacher, it’s rare these days to have someone in our life who calls us up and out of status quo Christianity. It’s rare that we expect much out of ourselves, too, even though we claim to be children of the King.
Paul had great expectations for those who would follow Jesus. He urged Christians to live lives worthy of the calling they have received (Eph. 4:1). He insisted that he was leaving the past behind and pressing on towards the prize ahead, that upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12-14). Paul expected big things.
Jesus, too. It was Jesus who said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). In a world where no one expects much from us anymore, and we expect little from ourselves, these words of Christ get twisted to mean all sorts of things. And yet the truth remains: Jesus expected great things from us. In fact, he trusted us to such a degree that he ascended to heaven, leaving 11 men behind to continue the mission for which he gave his life. Jesus expected they could do it.
Of course, we don’t do it alone. Any good that comes from us is not because of our natural ability but because of who our Father is and His grace at work within and through us. And our Father will not expect out of us that which He is not willing or able to provide a way for us to achieve.
In this way He is unlike our earthly fathers. As a dad of 5, I expect some things from my children. Some of them good, I hope, but not all. Sometimes my motivation for expecting certain things is not good (like when I want them to be quiet just because I don’t want to be disturbed). My expectations are often selfish. This is because I’m sinful, like all earthly fathers. But our Heavenly Father is not like me (thank God!). His motives are always pure and I can trust that His expectations are grounded in love, and my living up to them is always for my good.
However, the extent to which we believe our Father expects great things from us is, without question, the same extent to which we will live worthy of such a calling. If you don’t truly believe that Jesus gave his life to “save us from our sins” (Matt. 1:21), to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), and to “set the captives free” (Luke 4:18), then most likely you will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know very well what that is like, living for years under the descriptor, “Addict,” rather than the truth, a sinner saved by grace.
I had more faith in the power of my sin than I did in Jesus Christ who overcame the world (John 16:33).
Do you know who your Father is? He is expecting great things from you. Today, I encourage you to look to Him rather than your sin. Run to the cross and there you will find the power to resist temptation and grow in righteousness. Our Father expects great things from you and I. Let’s press on towards the prize!