Back in the day, when visitors came to the Houmas Plantation, they sometimes stayed for weeks. They often stayed for months. It was a big place (300,000 acres) and it was a busy place (producing 20,000,000 pounds of sugar each year).
To get to the plantation, travelers braved brutal people and brutal challenges: the turbulent Mississippi, swamps filled with gators, outlaws, poisonous snakes, impenetrable undergrowth and mosquitos carrying a deadly Yellow Fever virus. Some died trying to make the trip. There were settlers, pioneers and merchants among them. They were slaves, refugees, wholesalers and traders.
Most visitors expected something upon arrival.
Some hoped for a little food, shelter and rest. Others expected to stay with the family in the main house. They assumed they would dine at their table, drink their rum, smoke their cigars and be treated as part of the owner's family.
It's easy to see why expectations developed. You can imagine the expectations you would have if you were arriving at this incredible plantation after a long, grueling journey.
It's almost Christmas. People are on their way and they're bringing their expectations with them.
The question isn't whether travelers will arrive at our place with expectations. The question is what we expect when they get here.
A. I don't expect every newcomer to arrive valuing me and my expectations more than they value themselves and their expectations.
- Some guests show you respect from the moment they arrive. Some don't.
- Some appreciate your generosity. From the moment they arrive, they show their gratitude.
- Some get to your place knowing it's your place. They value you. They treat your stuff like it's not their stuff. Others don't. They treat your stuff like it's their stuff. Keep this in mind because people live according to their values; that means your stuff will soon look like their stuff.
- Some care about your beliefs, customs and traditions. Some expect you to cater to theirs.
- Some newcomers pitch-in and help. Some don't.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 - When we were with you, we gave you this rule: “Anyone who refuses to work should not eat.”
B. I'm compelled by the love of Christ, I won't withhold love until I receive love.
Luke 6:32-35 - If you love those who love you, what pay can you expect from that? Sinners also love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what pay can you expect from that? Sinners also do good to those who do good to them. If you let people use your things and expect to get something back, what pay can you expect from that? Even sinners let sinners use things and they expect to get something back. But love those who hate you. Do good to them. Let them use your things and do not expect something back. Your reward will be much. You will be the children of the Most High. He is kind to those who are not thankful and to those who are full of sin.
C. I'll live right. I'll stop and T.H.I.N.K. before I speak.
Is what I'm about to say, True, Helpful, Important, Necessary and Kind?
Isaiah 33:15-16 - The answer’s simple: Live right, speak the truth, despise exploitation, refuse bribes, reject violence, avoid evil amusements. This is how you raise your standard of living! A safe and stable way to live. A nourishing, satisfying way to live.
D. I expect the burden of my responsibilities to increase as I help others, because caring for others doesn't mean I care less for my own family.
1 Timothy 5:8 - But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
E. I don't expect newcomers to set the tone for my faith. I expect to worship GOD... no matter who shows up.
I know my daily practices impact my personal faith.
Will we observe a Sabbath Day? Will we remove our hats and bow our heads before each and every meal as we thank GOD for our many blessings? Will we go to church and worship GOD with his gathered church? Will we read the Bible? Generosity? Kindness? Is it OK to happily curse, blaspheme GOD and use vulgar language in the presence of my wife or children?
I don't expect newcomers to determine my practice for Christian living. I do expect that we respect each other and honor GOD when we're together.
Leviticus 19:3 - Each of you must show great respect for your mother and father, and you must always observe my Sabbath days of rest. I am the Lord your God.
F. I expect a consequence from the influx of people heading our way. Newcomers always change culture if they don't embrace it.
They're on their way.
What are you expecting?
1 Corinthians 9:19-21 - Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ.