So what did you expect?

If you want to get real about your motivations, examine your expectations.

That’s right, your expectations reveal what your true motivations are. For example, if you serve someone but don’t receive the thanks or accolades for doing so you thought you would receive, and find yourself pouting because of this, your motivation wasn’t altruistic service.

If you give, but you don’t receive the same or more back any time soon, and find yourself thinking God owes you something, your “giving” wasn’t to give, but a manipulation to “get.”

If you express love to someone who responds with anger or malice, and you find yourself regretting even speaking to them, your motivation was more likely a desire to receive love rather than to give love.

If we limit our kindness, generosity, friendship, selflessness, service, and love only to those we believe will respond with reciprocity, we’re seeking those things for ourselves more than we are giving them selflessly.

By saddling our actions with expectations of others, we muddy the purity of our best motivations.

What to do?

Try acting without expecting. Do your thing from the most pure motivation possible, and let people do their own thing with their own responses. And if you don’t like their response, don’t let that stop you from doing right, doing good, and doing it with the selfless kindness of Christ.

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In
that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends
rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect,” Matthew 5:43-48.

“Obviously, I’m not trying
to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my
goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
Galatians 1:10.

(One final word: having expectations isn’t, of itself, a bad thing. For example, we should expect of our brothers and sisters in Christ what God expects of us. What is usually the problem is the kind of expectations we have, the motive for them, and not clearly communicating our expectations from the start.)