Intro: Expectations can be tough to balance in this uncertain world. Where is it safe to place our highest hopes? Sometimes when we have expectations for people, we find it necessary to lower our hopes a bit. Otherwise, we are constantly disappointed. We can certainly have high expectations for God, because He is all-powerful, all-knowing, always present, and totally trustworthy. God will never fail us. However, we must remember God’s thoughts about righteousness are not our thoughts and God’s righteous ways may or may not be our choice of acting righteous. Yet, it is always right to rest our faith in God’s work of salvation in Christ and live obediently to his Word. God is “able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Eph. 4:20). We may have to adjust our expectations of people, but faith in Christ is essential to please God—our Rewarder (Heb 11:6).
In our passage today, the Apostle Paul responds to Israel’s expectations. Many Jews rejected Jesus, because he did not meet their expectation of who and what the Messiah might be and do. Because God had given them the law, it was the Jew’s expectation that trying to obey the law in their human strength was the way to be right with God. Whereas, the Gentiles came to God believing the righteousness of Jesus alone made them right with God. This act of faith may not make sense to our natural minds, but Scripture reveals believing in Christ and asking for his righteousness to be manifest through our lives is the Truth.
It appears Jesus has not met the expectations of many in our present culture, either. Christ’s standard for righteous living is very different from the world’s standard of living. In fact, many people seem to be offended by the standard Jesus uses for his children. He calls his sons and daughters to a posture of humility and obedience to the Word while the world demands its own way. Christ fulfills the goal and purpose of the law—to show us our sinful natures, as well as bring us the power to follow his Word and example. This is the believer’s responsibility. The Holy Spirit is our Helper.
Romans 9:30-10:4 (NLT) Israel’s Unbelief
30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,
“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall.But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
10 Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.
Prayer: Father, I pray for the people of Israel to be saved; to grow in their understanding of the truth and salvation that you make available in Messiah. As well, I pray for this sinful world to believe in Christ and be made righteous before it is too late. I place my trust in you and your plans for righteousness in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.