All the lofty goals and great expectations that individuals seek to accomplish can become overwhelming. People feel guilt, regret, and degradation of oneself when they cannot meet their own expectations. Most become frustrated, resentful, and angry when others get in the way and keep them from accomplishing what they see is best for everyone. Many struggle with anxiety, worry, and stress because of circumstances outside of one’s personal control. Eventually, a few simply give up, depress, and isolate themselves, so they feel exhausted and empty. However, Christians do not need to live this way.
Christians can plan to do great things and never meet those personal expectations. Who set those expectations? No one determines God’s love for oneself by accomplishing personal goals offered to God. Christ can accomplish great things through each person without them setting the goals and giving exhaustive effort to change what they cannot control.
Many want their spouses to change for the better, and they want their children to live life in a more sensible way. However, they can never do enough to earn constant love and admiration from family and friends — not that they love for this reason. Mature Christians can see that they can do little to affect change except to live a simple life in Jesus Christ and let Christ affect others through them.
No one has greater control or influence over another than Jesus Christ. He is the one person in history who has changed the world and continues to change the world. Most want to change everything around them and yet refuse to make the one simple change that changes everything. The faithful give themselves as a living sacrifice to Christ and transformed by the renewal of the mind (Rom 12:1–2).
As the apostle Paul resolved to honor Christ in life or death, Paul declared, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21 ESV). For Paul, to live in the flesh meant fruitful labor to do what is best for others by living for Christ (Phil 1:20–26). Therefore, the apostle had decided earlier in life no longer to live for himself. Paul professed, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Instead of overburdening oneself with various expectations, the believer should live a simple life devoted to Jesus Christ and let Christ work great things through oneself. The best path for each person is to live a life getting to know Christ and becoming more and more like Him. Trials and temptations will never go away, but every person can draw closer to Jesus. The faithful live having learned from Christ “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:20–24).