Lowering the Bar

Read: Philippians 1:12-30

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (v. 21)

Expectation is a regular part of life. While we know a new day is not promised, it’s likely most of us get up in the morning expecting to have a day much like the last. We might anticipate heading to school or work, caring for our young children or aging parents, or enjoying some flexibility in retirement.

The problem with expectations is when we use them as a weapon to hurt ourselves or those around us. We probably all know at least one person whom we would label a “perfectionist.” Perhaps even the person who looks back at us in the mirror. Too often a perfectionist’s expectations are not just lofty, they are unreasonable. They can cause the bearer of those expectations to miss out on great gifts in life—fun, freedom, joy, and gratitude. And they can wreck relationships.

So what do we do with too-high expectations? Lay them at the feet of the Savior. Perfectionism? Exchange it for grace; grace for self and grace for others. Perfection came as a babe and died on the cross for us in the person of Jesus. He raised the bar of grace for us so we can lower our personal bar of expectation.

As Paul reminds us in our key verse, our dying to self results in more fully living the life God intended for us. May we lean into the fact that it’s not all up to us. It never was. It never will be. Praise the Lord! —Joy Petroelje

As you pray, ask God to help you release expectations, and embrace his peace.

About the Author

Joy Petroelje is the director of a nonprofit human services organization. She and her husband Steve have three sons and live near Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to family time and her work in nonprofit administration, Joy enjoys reading, writing, and running.

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