If you lived in Jesus' day you would have been subject to the authority, and judgement, of the religious leaders of the day. They watched what you were doing, what you were wearing, what you weren't doing. They would look at your actions in order to determine your righteousness. Jesus came onto the scene and added to their system. True, people will know you are pursuing righteousness by the actions that they see, BUT you can't always tell a person's heart by what they are doing.
When I first became a stay at home mom I thought I knew exactly the expectations I was to get in line with; keep the house clean, put good meals on the table, meet your husband's needs and have the children magazine cover ready at all times. I quickly came to understand what those expectations were getting me into in terms of work. How quickly I grew weary of cleaning, cooking and keeping up appearances. It amazes me how short the time span was in which I stopped caring if my house and my family met people's standards.
This past week I began going to the gym, and I'll confess I'm a bit of a people watcher. There are two women at the gym that I am particularly drawn to. Both of them could be described by total strangers as "out of shape". They walk on the treadmills and they walk hard. The kind of walking that makes you sweat, makes it hard to breathe. While I notice them I wonder what got them to the gym. Several easy answers pop into my head and all of them have to do with meeting people's expectations of how they should look.
I remember watching some episodes of Oprah where a few families who appeared to "have it all" came clean about how little they actually have and how unhappy they truly are.
Appearances can be deceiving.
That girl with a body-to-die for who is actually dying for it.
That homeless man, begging on the corner every day, who is actually worth millions.
That mom at every event, always volunteering, constantly surrounded by people, who is the loneliest person on the planet.
Appearances can be deceiving.
I lost track of the families on Oprah, but I believe they journeyed internally to figure out why the sought after so much stuff. They had to get to the heart of the issue and purge away the excess to find true happiness.
I'm convinced those two ladies will still be at the gym walking just as hard six months from now. I'm convinced because of the determination on their faces and how hard they are working. They have to be operating from a deeper motivation than looking like Ms. Hollywood.
I've come to accept and embrace that the expectations I tried to live up to when I first became a SAHM will lead to nothing but fatigue and unhappiness. Now my expectations have to do with eternity, and that is much more fulfilling than temporarily appearing right.
I don't think people will ever stop being like the religious leaders in Jesus' day. There will always be a set of criteria by which people judge each other. But, for those of us who want to live a pure life of true righteousness there is only one set of expectations that matter.
And while we may be able to keep up appearances in front of man, God sees right through them. Appearances can be deceiving but the heart shines a light on the true motives for why we do what we do.