We played the flute and you did not dance...
How high are your expectations? If they are not met, are you disappointed? Angry? Do you lash back or hold a grudge? Or on the other hand, have you ever met someone who expected more from you than you could give? It's human nature to want things to go our way in life. But sometimes we carry that too far. Part of it comes down to how "me" focused we are.
Years ago, I used to play mind games, trying to figure out what was meant behind what people said. I would wonder, for instance, why a pastor could pass me in the hall and not look my way and say hello. (We put high expectations on pastors, don't we? This seems so petty now.) I later learned that he tends to be very focused and sometimes overlooks people around him. I also learned that people who are "me" focused (as I tended to be when I played these games) can be far less forgiving of others. Would I have ignored that person? Of course not! So when I am ignored in return, I judge my neighbor rather than loving them.
Now, many years later, I have a whole new perspective on such expectations of other people. She passed me in the hall and didn't notice me? She was probably thinking about other things. And I probably do the same thing without realizing it. No big deal.
Of course, often the expectations of others are far greater than this minor example, leading to all sorts of misunderstandings and accusations. And there are times we can do our best to keep peace with all men, but some people are never satisfied with our attempts. They expect far more than we can give. Some of that stems from only seeing their own life problems, and not acknowledging that other people have hurts and pain and heartache too. When my problems are about to overwhelm me, all I have to do is talk to any one of my friends and realize they've got trouble in their lives that is often far worse than my own. So we cut people some slack. We forgive without expectations.
I like what Jesus said when talking to the Pharisees one day. He could be very forthright, and in this case, his tone even seems sarcastic when addressing their high demands and judgmental attitudes. He said:
"To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.'
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by all her children." (Luke 7:31-35)
The sad thing is, adults today can still act like children, expecting, judging, accusing and then wondering why people don't acknowledge them when they pass them in the hall. They hurt others by their own high demands and "me" focus. It's a plight that can affect us all.