This evening I was able to have a deep conversation with a few people that I dearly love. The conversation came around to expectations that we have for ourselves and for each other. Many of us admitted to having anxiety and sadness about how we have not lived up to our potential. This of course is a favorite topic of mine, due to it being how I see myself.
I oftentimes catch myself in mid-wish. Silently thinking to myself how if I had taken the right instead of left, gone straight instead of turning around, or done such and such better. A part of me desires to correct the things that I did wrong. But, like the bell that has been rung, we cannot undo the past. Although I am certain that God is capable of rewinding the clock if He so chooses, I am not sure that is His will for any of us. Like the sound when the bell is rung, so it is with my past experience shaping me to who I am today.
It is human nature to desire to be perfect. But in our fallen state and in a fallen world we lack the ability to do so. Sometimes the one thing we desire more than our own perfection is perfection in those around us. Knowing our own limitations (even if we don't care to admit them) we still have an unreasonable desire to not be troubled with the failure of those around us, especially those closest to us. You will see those expectations in almost every relationship: husband/wife, parent/child, employer/employee, friend/friend, etc.
This is the crux of what Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7. How often it is quoted. "Judge not lest ye be judged." Oh how we love to say that, and especially when we are the ones being judged. Jesus never commanded us not to judge or not to have high expectations of one another. On the contrary, He said "Be prefect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Oh what a standard and a goal. One that we can desire after and strive for, but ultimately one that is completely out of our grasp. That is why Jesus came to die. So what does He mean by that? To not judge but to also be perfect.
A man is on a journey through a forest that is overgrown and dangerous. He is making bad progress and he slips down into deep pit. He struggles to jump out, to climb out, to dig out, but with everything he tries he sinks deeper into the pit. He yells out, he can hear people talking and walking by, but it seems that nobody cares. He finally gives up and decides he is better off dead and begins to regret ever starting his journey. Just then from up above he hears someone at the top of the pit. The man looks up and sees a friend. He cries out for help. His friend waves at him and jumps down into the pit. The man looks at his friend and says, "Why did you jump down here you fool? We are both going to die now." The friend smiles big, places a reassuring hand on his shoulder, and says, "Do not worry, I've been down here before. I know the way out."
What Jesus meant was that we are to use our shortcomings to soften ourselves to our brothers and sisters. He gave Himself for us and he expects each of us to treat each other accordingly.