Everyone has expectations of us. Employers have expectations of their employees. Teachers have expectations of their students. Citizens have expectations of their government. Spouses have expectations of each other. Parents have expectations of their children. What about God? Does God have expectations for us?
The Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:25) records an incident where a man asked Jesus, “What do I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, “What are God’s expectations of me?”
It sounds like the man was asking, “What is the minimum I must do to go to heaven?” When I read this question it reminds me of questions I have heard some students ask like, “What do I need to do to get a B?” It feels like they mean to ask, “What is the minimum needed to do to get by.” Don’t we all think that way from time to time? We may ask inwardly, “What must I do for my kids to turn out all right” or “What must I do for my marriage to survive?” or “What must I do to keep my job?”
Sometimes when we are having a hard time meeting the expectations of someone we throw up our hands and ask, “What do you want from me? What do you expect?” especially if we want to do the minimum and move on.
I think the man who asked this question of Jesus only wanted to do the minimum required to get into heaven because he already new the answer to his question (Luke 10:27) as evidenced when he quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He knew what God expected of him.
God expects us to love Him. But how much does He expect? He expects us to love Him with all of our heart so we are not allowed to store bitterness, anger or unforgiveness in our heart (Psalm 4:4). He expects us to love him with our soul, the essence of our being, and the immaterial part of our life. He expects us to love Him with our strength or our aptitude and power. So, when we go to school or work we work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). He expects us to love Him with our mind so we must love God with our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5b), and our attention. God expects us to love Him with all that we are.
How do you know if you love God? If you love God, you will love people. This man who questioned Jesus knew that God expected him to love people. But how many people and what kind of people did God expect him to love?
Again, he only wanted to do the minimum so he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He should have asked, “How do I love my neighbor?” Jesus answered his question and the one he should have asked by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. Since Jesus ended this story with the command, “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37) we would do well to examine the story.
First, Jesus answered the question, “Who is our neighbor?” Our neighbor is the person who brings problems upon themselves. This person traveled down a dangerous road alone and fell among robbers (Luke 10:27), just like many had probably warned him about. Our neighbor is also the one for whom there appears to be little hope (Luke 10:30b), this man is referred to as “half dead.”
Then the story took a turn. The people most like the fallen man refused to help him. They would not even get close to him (Luke 10:31-31). The person least like the man, a Samaritan, is the one that actually helped him. Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews, yet this man helped when no one else would. Jesus conveyed to His questionnaire that even his enemy was his neighbor. Therefore, even his enemies (Matthew 5:44).
How do we love other people?
Then Jesus told the man how to love other people. The Samaritan went to the fallen man and when he was exposed to his situation “he had compassion” (Luke 10:33) for him. But this was real compassion, which always will move a person to take action. The Samaritan man performed specific acts that were helpful (Luke 10:34), and even spent around four days of his wages (Luke 10:35) to help the man. What a difference he made in a life of a person who had previously been an enemy. So what does God expect of us?
Love God and love other people (even our enemies). It sounds pretty simple, but if we really apply it on a daily bases it will change the activity our life and the lives of those around us.