By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
All the lofty goals and great expectations that we seek to accomplish can become overwhelming. We feel guilt, regret, and degradation for oneself when we cannot meet our own expectations. Most of us become frustrated, resentful, and angry when others get in the way and keep us from doing what we see is best for everyone. Many of us struggle with anxiety, worry, and stress because of circumstances outside of our control. Eventually, a few of us simply give up, depress, and isolate ourselves, so we feel exhausted and empty. However, Christians do not need to live this way.
Christians can make goals, plan to do great things, and never meet those personal expectations. Who set those expectations? We do not determine God’s love for us by us accomplishing personal goals offered to Him. Christ can accomplish great things through each person without them setting the goals and giving exhaustive effort to change what they cannot control.
People want their spouses to change for the better, and they want their children to live life in a more sensible way. However, they can never do enough to earn their constant love and admiration. Mature Christians can see that they can do little to affect change except to live a simple life in Jesus Christ and let Christ affect others through them.
No one has greater control or influence over another than Jesus Christ. He is the one person in history who has changed the world and continues to change the world. Most of us want to change everything around us and yet we refuse to make the one simple change that changes everything. Give yourself as a living sacrifice to Christ and be renewed in your mind (Rom 12:1–2).
As the apostle Paul resolved to honor Christ in life or death, Paul declared, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). For Paul, to live in the flesh meant fruitful labor to do what is best for others by living for Christ (Phil 1:20–26). Therefore, the apostle had decided earlier in life no longer to live for himself because he was crucified with Christ. Paul professed, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Instead of overbearing yourself with various expectations, just live a simple life devoted to Jesus Christ and let Christ work great things through you. The best path for each person is to live a life that is Christ getting to know Christ and becoming more and more like Him. Trials and temptations were never go away, but every person can draw closer to Jesus Christ. The faithful live having learned from Christ “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:20–24).