Have you felt exhausted by the burden of expectations? Perhaps a good friend expects you to always be there for her, so you stay up too late or talk for too long because you’re afraid of saying “no.” Or maybe you’re the one your church or mission organization always calls when they need a favor, or the one your children know will always say “yes,” or the one who is secretly proud of the fact that you can’t remember the last time you got a full 8 hours of sleep.
The world champions achievement and accomplishment to the point of exhaustion, because the world sees life on this earth as all there is. However, we see a completely different picture in God’s Word. Recently, I was convicted by today’s verse when I realized that I was living for the approval of people and the world. What made it sneaky was that I was busy doing good things for good people, but I was doing them out of pride and in the hope that people would accept me. I would make “healthy” meals because I wanted my housemates to approve of my diet. I would work hard at school in order to get good grades and live up to the expectation that people had of me as a straight-A student. I felt guilty sleeping in because everyone thinks of me as an early riser and I don’t want to upset their ideas of me.
Going against people’s expectations feels scary and makes me worry I will not be accepted. People might accept me now, but what if my actions change? Will they still accept me, or will my lack of living up to my perception of their standards lessen their opinion of me?
Galatians 1 speaks to the heart of the issue of expectations and acceptance by reminding us that we are not living for the acceptance of others, but we are living from a place of secure acceptance and inheritance. Our acceptance in Christ’s Kingdom does not fluctuate based on any external deeds, and we cannot get un-accepted into God’s family (1 John 3:1).
Once we begin to grasp this and live each day from a heart-space of being fully accepted, we just might find that others accept us as well. When we feel weary or hurt, we can run to Jesus as fully accepted daughters, instead of trying to hide from God in the fear that He hasn’t accepted us. So today, let’s live boldly for Jesus, not working to meet the requirements of others, but living for the Kingdom of God.
What is one area of life where you’ve been saying “yes” to win acceptance? How can you surrender this area to God, and be faithful to Him instead of working to win the approval of others?