Welcome! This is part 3 in my 3 part series on dealing with ungrateful people.
Part of leading other’s to Christ is sacrificing your false expectations. You have to be willing give up your need for results, for personal gratification and short term ego strokes.
“I will continue to love you as long as you show progress” is not unconditional love. How many times have you backslid or reverted to old behaviors or sins? Your backsliding did not altar God’s love for you. He continued to pursue you with kindness.
There are promises in the Bible, “If this, then that”, that are conditional but God’s love is never conditional. Are you willing to give up whatever your idea of results are in order to love others better?
Humans can get their feeling hurt and because of that many withdraw from any chance of getting hurt which makes loving ungrateful people difficult. Ungrateful people will hurt your feelings over and over again if you tie your need for reciprocation to their responses.
Making people who do not know Christ your personal project is a bad idea. First, no one wants to be your project, your guinea pig. Second, it never works out the way you think.
I’ve seen this in ministry volunteers. If they are not feeling the gratitude of the people they serve, they bail because they are not being gratified. If you only volunteered to be gratified, that’s a bad reason to volunteer, especially in Youth Ministry.
We need egos. We need egos for the confidence to lead well and, according Forbes,
It’s not possible to fully eliminate your ego, nor should you try to. The ego serves important purposes, and when used correctly, can help you build confidence in yourself. Learning to keep your ego in check can also transform your relationships for the better.- Forbes 3 Keys To Keeping Your Ego In Check, Melody Wilding, LMSW
What psychologists call the ego the Bible refers to as “the flesh”. The flesh, our natural inclination to build ourselves up and make ourselves the center of attention is what needs to be tamed and nailed to the cross so that we don’t make loving others about us
Let’s continue our study of Luke 6:34-36 and deal with curbing our expectations so we can love others better.
Let’s continue our study of Luke 6:34-36
What would loving people look like if you had no expectations?
Empathy is a powerful tool in reducing false expectations of others. Empathy means we look at our enemies and wonder,
“why are they like this?”
“Why is hate eating at their heart?”
“What kind of day/life must they be having?”
Jesus showed empathy when he looked at those who whipped him, beat him and cursed him and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
They do know means “They do not see, they are not aware”
This act of grace is immediately followed by them dividing up his clothes. Scripture says Jesus could have called legions of angels to his side to aid him at any moment (Matthew 26:53), I would not have blamed him.
How can we be empathetic to those who do not know Christ?
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. Philippians 3:18-20
This is why we can be empathetic towards those who do not know Christ. Our destinations are different. Their destiny is destruction while our citizenship is in heaven.
Let me offer my take on two Gary Vaynerchuk quotes,
“Expectations are the enemy of giving” (modified)
Putting limits on what and how much you give to others only hurts you. When you give in the offering, do expect God to give back to you in the same exact way with the same amount you gave? It would be foolish to do so. What if God wanted to give you more? What if God wanted to give you something different? Would you receive it or demand your expectations be met?
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20
“Expectations make us vulnerable”
Vulnerable to what? Disappointment and discouragement. Your expectations of others, in light of what you think others “deserve” or what you think you deserve from them is a dead end. In a perfect world, everyone says thank you and is reciprocal of our time, talent and gifts. But, it’s not a perfect world and it is never a 1 to 1 scenario. I don’t believe anyone gets back what they think they deserve. There is always a, “Well, I gave more” attitude that leads to giving less the next time because your expectations weren’t met.
We can and should hope (have faith), but expectations, immediate physical or emotional gratification should not be our barometer for doing the right thing because doing the right thing is always the right thing.
What if you decide to do the right thing without expecting anything back?
Then your reward will be great,
The word reward means: Pay, your wages, your salary. Your recompense will be great.
If the wages of sin is death then the wages of righteousness is life.
you will be sons of the Most High;
Who you were associated with, Jewish culture, was a big deal. Lineage, The begats of the Old Testament, The first 17 verses of Matthew 1 are all to show where everyone stood, culturally. The Pharisees were fond of saying to Jesus, “We are the children of Abraham”. They wanted him to know their standing but Jesus trumps that by saying “you will be sons of the Most High”.
for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked
Wicked means ungrateful, ungracious, unpleasing, malicious, slothful. Are you excited yet? God is asking you to act towards others as God has acted towards you.
These are the people you disagree with morally, politically, biblically and spiritually and they may share your table this Thanksgiving or work in the cubicle next to you. Like the lawyers who questioned Jesus about “who is my neighbor” you may ask, “What do you mean by be kind?”
Kind means useful (serviceable, productive); well-fitted (well-resourced). In other words, God is kind on a practical level and that is the path we must take. There is no wiggle room. Kind is kind.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same?… Matthew 5:43-46
Sun. Rain. The wicked and the righteous have equal access to these practical kindnesses. If there were a righteous farmer next to a wicked farmer, there are many Christians who would like the righteous to get all the rain and sun and a bountiful crop and the wicked get none and their crops fail so they could point and say, “See! This is what you are missing.” This is not how God works.
God’s grace, like rain and sunshine, are available to all, even the wicked, with the hope that they will recognize God’s kindness.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.…
Showing compassionate, experiencing deep pity (lamentation), is what God does for people who live in opposition towards Him. How do you respond to those you know who don’t like you let alone oppose you?
Do you know who we were before coming to Christ…the ungrateful and the wicked.
Aren’t you glad God wasn’t expecting a thank you or made his love conditional on your ability to be grateful? This should be your posture with those who are your adversaries, your enemies and even those who just don’t like you.
Love, without expectation, is the purest picture of grace and it’s what drew us to the Father and will draw those around you to Him as well.
“Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
– Romans 2:4
Kindness without expectation will win the lost, the ungrateful and the wicked.